Yeezy Season is here, and it’s going strong. Kanye West has released his newest project, a collaboration between him and Kid Cudi called Kids See Ghosts.
The project has been a long time coming, and like last week’s “ye” and Pusha T’s “DAYTONA,” the album was produced in the mountains of Wyoming and is short, sweet and full of focused, dense, laser sharp production from West.
Cudi and West have been constant collaborators, with Cudi appearing on every West album since “808’s and Heartbreak.” Despite suffering a bit of a rift during 2016, the two quickly reconciled.
Both have a history of mental illness problems, and both sought out and receive help in 2016, West for drug addiction and bipolar disorder while Cudi received treatment for depression and suicidal thoughts.
This makes it easy to see why a big theme of “KIDS SEE GHOSTS” is recovery and moving forward. These are two men who have had some tough times and are using their music as a tool to help themselves and potentially others that face the same issues they did.
So let’s go track by track through “KIDS SEE GHOSTS.”
The album starts off with a bang with “Feel the Love.” This is an awesome song that starts with a beautiful hook from Cudi, a great guest verse from Pusha T, but what puts this one over the top is West making a bunch of gun noises during the first minute. I’ve never heard him do something like that before and he channels his inner Desiigner for that part.
Later the noises become part of the beat, and it’s funny hearing them with Cudi singing about love in the background. This was a great way to open the album and it might be my favorite track off it.
Next we get “Fire” which was produced by Andre 3000. The beat keeps the song in constant motion, and West and Cudi rap about some of their various failures, and their choice to ignore the people that keep bringing them up. It’s a nice short song.
Then we get “4th Dimension” which impresses me just by the sample alone. West uses a Christmas song released by Louis Prima in the 1930s and makes it into the backbone of the song, to great results. This song is a banger, and the sample contrasts so well with the beats to make it seem like a struggle. Also, don’t forget the creepy laugh that starts in the middle of the track.
Following this is “Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2).” This is a beautiful song that picks up right where “Ghost Town” from “ye” ended. It continues the theme of letting things go and freeing yourself, but in this one there is no “I feel kinda free.” It’s full on freedom, and is made more angelic by Ty Dolla Sign and a men’s chorus singing some wonderful harmonies. Listening to this one just feels cathartic.
The next song is “Reborn,” and it might be the centerpiece of the album. This is a Cudi led song where he talks about beating his demons in 2016 and moving forward past his problems. West’s verse follows in that same vein, with him being very candid about the controversy surrounding his comments on TMZ and the disastrous end to the Saint Pablo tour.
Much like the previous song, “Reborn” is cathartic to listen to and sounds like a new, healthier beginning for both men. I just hope it comes to fruition.
Then we get the title track. “Kids See Ghosts” is an awesome song, with a fast paced beat and some good verses from West and Cudi. Cudi focuses on denouncing his detractors, and West raps about some of the pressures of fame and the stiff competition he faces in younger rap artists. This is a four minute song but it flies by, and the hook provided by Mos Def helps curate the spooky mood of the track.
The album ends with “Cudi Montage.” This is one of the stronger pieces in the album, with an unreleased Kurt Cobain song “Burn the Rain,” being sampled. West drops a heart-wrenching verse about gang violence and the vicious cycle that leads to and perpetuates it.
The hook of the song is Cudi and Mr. Hudson urging the listener to “stay strong.” It’s a very candid and heartfelt way to close out the album, and ends it on a high note.
All in all, “KIDS SEE GHOSTS” is a fantastic album that utilizes the strengths of both West and Cudi. These two talented creative artists put together something special. Like the other West albums from this month, it is short, with only seven songs and a 23 minute runtime.
It can be both a blessing and a curse, as the short time eliminates unnecessary filler, but it also means every track counts and has to be worthwhile. This is where I think “ye” fell short.
I think this accomplished that balance, and the only gripe I have with “KIDS SEE GHOSTS” is the fact that I want more. But since West and Cudi actually gave a name to their group, could that be a sign of more to come from them as a tandem? I certainly hope so.
Rating: 5 I FEEL FREEEEEEEEEs out of 5