Published Dec 14, 2020In October 2016, Kid Cudi had hit rock bottom. He checked himself into rehab and shared a heartbreaking letter on Facebook in which he described himself as a "damaged human swimming in a pool of emotions." Four years later, the man who was once "on the pursuit of happiness" before going to hell and back on the road to mental clarity has seemingly found the peace he needed — making Man on the Moon III: The Chosen's hour-long journey that much more fruitful and impactful.
While he's released numerous projects over the years, Kid Cudi's Man on the Moon series stands as his most revered work. The first two instalments were released a year apart (The End of Day in 2009 and The Legend of Mr. Rager in 2010), but a little over a decade has lapsed leading up to this third and final instalment. It couldn't have come at a better time.
Sitting at 18 songs and produced by a cast that includes long-time collaborators like Dot da Genius, Plain Pat and Mike Dean, Cudi crafts a body of work that plays poignantly, even you're not fully immersed in his back catalog.
Much like its predecessors, Man on the Moon III is separated into acts, with a narrative that finds Cudi falling into old habits and facing his demons, but also persevering and reflecting. Cudi sparkles in the first two acts, from going full Mr. Rager on the Dot da Genius-helmed "She Knows This" to his menacing flow on "Heaven on Earth" — over a beat that sounds like a trap-tinged music box. He also holds his own on project outlier "Show Out," featuring the late Pop Smoke and UK MC Skepta.
While satisfying, the most endearing and powerful standout moments appear in the third and fourth acts. "The Void" sees Cudi lamenting on his struggles with mental health and the lengths he goes to avoid falling into the dark hole of depression that remains at his heels. The song's outro is rather touching, as he croons a heartfelt "thank you" to everyone who's stayed in his corner throughout his tribulations.
The final two-song sequence of "4 da Kidz" and "Lord Knows" has Cudder reassuring the youth who connect with his story that they aren't alone while revelling in his blessings, seemingly content with his current state.
Kid Cudi has made his real-life struggles with depression and drugs a running focus of his catalog, and in the process, helped a legion of die-hard fans get through some of the most challenging moments of their lives. Man on the Moon III proves that even the most harrowing stories can end on a bright note. (Republic)