Kid Cudi Insano

Kid Cudi Channels Travis Scott on ‘Insano’

Kid Cudi’s 21-track-long effort is disastrously dull, vague, and full of clichés from his media library of sounds and the genre in general.

Kid Cudi
Wicked Awesome / Republic
12 January 2024

In the far, far September of 2022, during the month when Entergalactic was released, Kid Cudi told Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s podcast, when discussing the so-called “Kid Cudi stuff”, that he wanted “to put it on the back burner” and “chill out with that”. Well, that’s not a big surprise, considering the significance of the movie industry for every musician and Kid Cudi’s intensive involvement in recent years with projects like John Woo’s Silent Night, his own directorial debut Teddy, and others. It’s even surprising how he managed to produce quite a cinematic release.

Firstly, now every fan can take a deep exhale, a big sigh, as Marika Hackman recommends on her eponymous album, because in May of 2023, less than a year after that interview with Zane, Kid Cudi confirmed that he doesn’t plan to retire from the game just yet. Secondly, let’s admit that he still has already done enough for the industry, releasing nine full-length projects in 21 years (remember this number), and against such a wide background, Insano sounds fresh enough. Kid Cudi’s music was part of many listeners’ lives as they grew up, but it’s hard to highlight any particularly memorable release from him in a long time. All those years, he was just in the field, doing trendy stuff without great expectations, and this album is no exception.

On Insano, Kid Cudi does his usual cosmic, moonish, entergalactic stuff in a relaxed, low-key manner, not aiming to make something iconic. Here and there, we can hear some Astroworld-esque melodies (“Most Ain’t Dennis”) by way of a cloned… not Tyrone, as you might think, but Travis Scott (not without his own help, of course). From track to track, nostalgic throwbacks show up, echoing his most daring hooks from Man on the Moon I to Man on the Moon III (see, he was thinking in the cinematic paradigm of sequels even back then), which, as we remember, were also sometimes quite Travis Scott-ish. Kid Cudi is a clever and hardworking musician, but if you ever need to describe his music in just three words, two of them would probably be “Travis Scott”.

In other words, he doesn’t invent trends and doesn’t even depict the zeitgeist, like it once was with Kids See Ghosts. Still, Kid Cudi masterfully adapts to modern movements and assimilates music innovations so well that sometimes it’s hard to understand whether we’re dealing with very good fast food or highbrow cuisine. Sometimes, it results in hits like “Wow”. Sometimes he delivers sonic diversity with nuanced vignettes like the sampling of horns in a very St. Vincent-ish way on “A Tale of a Knight”. However, most of the time, this 21-track-long effort (remember the number?) is disastrously dull, vague, and full of clichés from Kid Cudi’s media library of sounds and the genre in general. As for the hundred millionth revival of XXXTentacion, I’d rather remain generally silent.

If on Man on the Moon III, there was at least a pretty surprising feat with Phoebe Bridgers or even the dumb lo-fi anti-folk attempt “Elsie’s Baby Boy (Flashback)”, and on Entergalactic every ballad enjoyer could find the tender and catastrophically atmospheric “Maybe So” with a lot of other moody stuff, the only uncommon and really memorable tune here is “ElectroWaveBaby” because of the smart and hilariously cheesy Ace of Base interpolation. This lack of individuality is perfectly reflected by the abstract Kandinsky-esque cover art of Insano, which doesn’t evoke strong emotions or intricate associations and doesn’t attempt to be notable in any way. Similarly, the contents of the album do not provide deep intellectual nourishment. 

This record is easy to listen to, forget, and confuse with something else. If you ever need to describe it in just three words, you already know two of them. Don’t mention it!

RATING 6 / 10