It’s rare that you come across an album title, fitting it’s content as well as Kid Cudi’s sixth studio album ‘Passion, Pain and Demon Slayin’’. Details of Cudi’s newest record have been trickling through since March, when he released the single ‘Frequency’. Since then, close followers of the rapper were given the tiniest of titbits of information via snapchat and social media.
The album, like much of Cudi’s back catalogue, is extremely leftfield and often marries clashing elements together. He’s never been afraid to take a punt at genres and styles that don’t automatically fit into his perceived sound. His foray into punk-rock (‘Speedin’ Bullet to Heaven’) for example, was met with a poor response; but it’s certainly heartening so see that Cudi is really up for trying anything musically. You have to at least respect him for that.
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‘Passion Pain and Demon Slayin’’ is a return to a more familiar sound for Cudi. He’s back to rapping and has recruited a star-studded cast of features and producers specially for the occasion. Names include, Pharrell Williams, Willow Smith and Andre 3000 to name a few.
‘All In’, drops in near the beginning of the album, and is produced by the now infamous Atlanta native Mike Will Made This. The track nods and bops along with sometimes bongo lead percussion. Like many of the songs on ‘Passion Pain and Demon Slayin’’, a lot of the work is done by Cudi’s vocals and the drums here. The album is varied in terms of its sonics; including elements of classical music (see ‘Kitchen’ and ‘Does It’) as well as the jaunty broken synth chords that have become a regular guest stars in Cudi’s music (‘Swim The Light’).
The album’s title has particular poignancy when you consider that Cudi checked himself into rehab in October. He has spoken in length about his mental health problems, which have been both caused by his swift rise to fame, and were lurking prior to it. Rap is a powerful medium of expression. Whether the objective is abrasive boastfulness or an outpouring of grief, the rap landscape is so expansive now, and many artists have found their sound and niche as of late (J Cole, Childish Gambino, Chance The Rapper). Cudi’s lyrics cut right through you, revealing his constant painful battle with depression. “You can try and numb the pain, but it will never go away”- he proclaims in the intro of ‘Swim In The Light’. There are many points in the album that seem hopeless in this way, and it is easy to see a lot of autobiographical elements in Cudi’s words.
‘Passion Pain and Demon Slayin’ has a groove to it. It is staggeringly heartbreaking, and opens up Cudi’s most inner thoughts and hurts for the listener. Kid Cudi is a true role model for an industry that often has a warped vision of mental health, and this album, as much as it is a cry for help, should perhaps be seen as the opening of a new dialogue that can only benefit those suffering from mental illness.