Kid Cudi, "Man on the Moon: The End of Day"
Kid Cudi's debut album, "Man on the Moon: The End of Day," is anything but a traditional hip-hop recording. It's more along the lines of pop fare, with narration by labelmate Common. Cudi describes inner struggles on the song "Mr. Solo Dolo," and he follows up with dark lyrical content on "Day 'N' Nite." The Kanye West-produced "Sky Might Fall" finds Kid Cudi rapping in a whispered voice, harmonizing over his own rhymes, while the Illfonics' Matt Friedman provides an infectious dance track with "Enter Galactic." Electronic gems continue with two Ratatat collaborations, the guitar-piercing "Alive" and uplifting "Pursuit of Happiness." (The latter also features MGMT.) The rapper's delivery is confident in a poetic and artful way, channeled through a theatrical set of songs, including a timely sample of Lady GaGa's "Poker Face" on the cut "Make Her Say." -Michael Menachem