[25 March 2014]
Once you’ve got a few successful releases under your belt and you’ve established yourself as an artist, you’ll be given the green light to create whatever you want without questioning. If any other rapper released Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon it would come as a surprise, but at this point, this is exactly the album we’ve come to expect from Kid Cudi. Meant to bridge the gap between the second and third chapters of the Man on the Moon series, Satellite Flight is an album with a lot of ambition that lacks in execution. While Cudi nails the cinematic vibe that he was going for, it’s not in a new enough way to make Satellite Flight particularly interesting.
Cudi is no stranger to experimentation, but this is left-field even by his standards. Satellite Flight brings back memories of 2012’s WZRD project, and much like WZRD, it’s hit or miss. Cudi has some great ideas, but too often he fails to focus in and fully capitalize on them. The majority of the ten tracks on Satellite Flight are bland, forgettable, and simply too long. As he showed on Indicud, Kid Cudi has been working to rely less on other producers and take his music entirely into his own hands, producing or co-producing every song once again on Satellite Flight. His production is evolving, and if he can continue to improve it will make carrying out his own visions possible. The problem is he simply isn’t there yet. Some of his beats still feel bland and incomplete, and they aren’t up to par with the beats he was receiving from other producers on previous projects.
The instrumental tracks feel fairly lifeless, and when Kid Cudi comes in to sing (which is basically all he’s doing on this album) it feels like Kid Cudi on auto-pilot. The result is, of course, an album that would be totally passable if not for the fact that there is one track alone that makes Satellite Flight worth the price of admission. “Balmain Jeans” is remarkably beautiful, smooth, addicting, and ethereal, and those adjectives hardly do it justice. It’s an early front-runner for Song of the Year and it goes to show what a Kid Cudi creation can result in when all the pieces fall into place.
“Balmain Jeans” is the clear highlight of the album. It makes up for an otherwise forgettable listening experience, which is a pretty big accomplishment. “Going To the Ceremony” and “Too Bad I Have To Destroy You Now” don’t reach that same level of excellence, but they’re two other tracks worth mentioning. Aside from these three songs, there’s little reason to listen to Satellite Flight. Only the biggest of Kid Cudi fans will be able to squeeze much enjoyment out of the remaining seven tracks here. Satellite Flight fulfills Cudi’s contract under Republic, allowing him to renegotiate his deal, which is something he has been trying to do for a while now. It’s a smart strategic move by Cudi, but his art suffered as a result. It doesn’t excuse Cudi for a lackluster release, but this bit of news should at least restore some confidence that Man on the Moon III will sound more like the polished Cudi we’ve previously seen and less like the chaotic misstep that is Satellite Flight.