Playing off the guitar-based energy of "Man On the Moon, Vol. II: The Legend of Mr. Rager," such as "Erase Me," "WZRD" (Feb. 28) features Cudi and Genius taking a number of creative leaps of faith. It's a record built on heavy riffage, dark, schizophrenic production, and Cudi's signature soul searching. The rock influences on this project are also more pronounced than Cudi's former.
"One thing I love about Pink Floyd," Cudi said, "is how the instrumentals take you to a whole other place." The artist/actor also mentioned that the Pixies, Nirvana, and Electric Light Orchestra were heavy influences on the album's soundscapes. At a time when many indie rock/alternative musicians are dabbling in hip-hop, majority of "WZRD" could pass for Cudi fronting Sleigh Bells, filtered through the urban rock aesthetic of The Neptunes.
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For an artist known for his inner demons, portrayed lyrically in his storytelling, the guitar has had a calming effect on the 28 yr. old Cleveland native. "I woke up one morning and realized I love playing the guitar; it's therapeutic for me. So I called Dot Da Genius and said I wanted to make a rock band."
"He picked up an instrument on a whim and made an album out of it, " Dot Da Genius said. Genius continued to explain that Cudi would sometimes make up guitar riffs with his mouth before transferring them to instruments.
Since arriving with "Man on the Moon: The End of Day" in 2009, Cudi has been no stranger to genre-hopping collaborations. His major label debut featured production from the indie-approved electronic duo Ratatat and its 2010 follow-up sampled vocals from critically acclaimed indie-folk act St. Vincent. In 2011, he contributed vocals, guitar, and production to Travis Barker's, of Blink-182, debut solo record, "Give the Drummer Some." Last month, he appeared on Steve Aoki's album "Wonderland."
Still, "WZRD" isn't a total departure from Cudi's past. The album favors programmed drums to maintain a self-described "hip-hop feel," and much of the record's personality should be familiar to Cudi fans: "It's not that different; the message and subject matter are still the same."
Close to the end of the live Q&A portion of the listening, Cudi seemed to have grown agitated as a few in attendance engaged in their own conservations. "I'm not a fucking substitute teacher. I'm not the principal of a school," Cudi said. According to Hip-Hop Wired, Cudi spoke on his irritation. "When two individuals who are putting their life out there through song, and they ask for your attention, you [the listeners] give it to them," Cudi said. "You came here for a purpose... to hear our music. So fucking listen to it because we're trying to educate you on what we're doing... it's as simple as that!"