Melodic, emotive, introspective, & "weird" is the status quo for rap in 2017, but when Kid Cudi burst onto the scene, it was a different landscape. His style inspired established artists like Kanye West (808s & Heartbreak) then, and some of the biggest names in hip-hop now —Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, ASAP Rocky, etc...—cite the lonely ranger as an influence. Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin' is Cudder's 6th full-length, and at 19 tracks long, it's another body of work that requires complete immersion from the listener. His honest musings about love, depression, drugs, and relationships are laid bare on leftfield beats courtesy of usual collaborators Plain Pat, Mike Dean, and others, and Cudi's experimental and unhinged approach to hip-hop is once again something that fans can really sink their teeth in to. Check out "Frequency," the calm-but-bumping opener that sets the tone, of "By Design" featuring Andre 3000. "Baptized In Fire" w/ Travis Scott is another highlight, and Pharrell's touch on "Surfin'" also stands out. Other picks: "Flight At First Sight/Advanced," "Swim In The Light," "Rose Golden," and "ILLusions."
reviewed by rei kwondo 12/2017