WZRD, rapper-singer Kid Cudi's rock-inspired collaboration with producer Dot da Genius, sounds a lot like the bedroom recordings of the "lonely stoner" from Cudi's 2009 hit, "Day 'N' Nite." Whether he's witlessly observing that "most people are pussies" or literally mumbling his lyrics, he hardly seems to care that someone might overhear him. A potentially punky moment, the "blah blah blah" blurt that kicks off "Love Hard," seems a statement of purpose. Meanwhile, the rudimentary guitar, starchy beats and formless synths just sound rough, never fun or spontaneous.
Where PM Dawn’s soft spoken routine was shunned to no end in the early ’90s, recent times have given rise to a subculture allowing today’s generation to comfortably identify with artists straying from rap’s hyper-masculinity and chauvinism. A primary example of this burgeoning alternative perspective has been Kid Cudi, (Drake and projects like Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak to boot) as he has offered his innermost turmoil to the world despite the openness leaving his art subject to harsh backlash. WZRD is Cudi’s third release, a creative offering fusing his standard sensitivity and introspection with the Rock production stylings of frequent collaborator Dot Da Genius.
Even if Run-D.M.C. designed the perfect blueprint some 25 years earlier, music labeled "rock-rap" had produced so many awful moments that when Kid Cudi's rock project WZRD arrived in 2012, open ears were hard to find. Pre-judged as some kind of emo-Nickelback cash-in or cred-builder with "Day 'n' Nite" producer Dot da Genius along for the ride, WZRD, the album, is sort of emo, sort of dream pop, and surely an indulgent effort that surprises with its chemistry and willingness to follow the music.
Emo-rapper Kid Cudi went on an angry Twitter rampage recently because he believes his label is under-promoting his new alt-rock duo project, WZRD. But despite the label's apparent lack of confidence, the self-titled debut has actually had a pretty good first week on the charts. Just don't expect the good sales to last once people actually hear the thing.
Artists from the hip-hop world dropping in on the alternative rock scene has not been a successful strategy. Yet, here we are, another prominent name attempting to do what others have failed at. Kid Cudi and producer Dot da Genius have come together under the moniker WZRD to break that barrier and come up with a great rappers’ rock album. While Cudi would seem to be a more logical choice than others that have attempted to fit that highly specific role, the album lacks both a strong voice and an energetic punch, instead meandering in rock archetypes.