After Kid Cudi stopped smoking weed and decided to make a rock album, critics and fans began to question whether his music would ever be as successful as his early releases. However, when he announced that he was working on his newest album, Indicud, which he stated would be his “version of [Dr. Dre’s] The Chronic 2001,” speculation began that he had parted ways with sobriety and would begin rapping again. The speculations were confirmed when the first single, “Just What I Am,” was released. Featuring Cudi’s signature hazy, stoner production, the track is primarily about smoking marijuana with the words, “I need smoke, I need to smoke,” repeated through the hook. It was obvious that the Cudi that fans had grown to love was back.
Shortly before Indicud’s April 16th release Kid Cudi announced his departure from Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music. He stated that he was leaving the label to focus on other ideas and work with other people. The track list for Indicud revealed that none of his former label mates would be featured on the album, but that he had enlisted many new collaborators, including new stars, A$AP Rocky on “Brothers,” also featuring King Chip, and Kendrick Lamar on “Solo Dolo, Part II,” two of the strongest tracks on the album. While some expected guests like Kanye are missed, Cudi continues his habit of working with Indie acts like MGMT and St. Vincent on the track “Red Eye” where he features Haim. The song is also the only one not produced entirely by Kid Cudi, with guest production from Hit-Boy. The most unexpected artist on the record is Michael Bolton, singing the hook on “Afterwards (Bring Yo Friends)” another track featuring King Chip.
“Beez,” featuring RZA of the Wu Tang Clan, finds Cudi stepping into a producer role rather than the primary vocalist on the song, only rapping two lines, including, “Stings bitch, bzzzz.” Similarly, on “Solo Dolo, Part II,” Cudi only raps during one verse, while Kendrick takes care of vocals on the hook and the rest of the verses. Like Dre on 2001, he is the curator and mind behind a collection of songs rather than the star of all of them. His approach makes him the true artist and songwriter and gives him complete control of the result. Because of this, the album is unified and sonically consistent in a way that most hip-hop records could never be.
Like his previous records, Cudi’s lyrics are personal and introspective while still including traditional rap star tropes. Even when discussing topics like drugs or explicit after parties, his stories focus on the internal struggles and misplaced feelings during those situations. His ability to make stories relatable despite his fame and status has kept him relevant, even after making an album that didn’t attract the same reaction.
Indicud proves that Kid Cudi has a distinct niche, but he does it so well that it could never be considered a rut in his career. His ability to cultivate unique ideas within a genre that is typically filled with various versions of the same thing is a testament to the creative power of the substance that spawned stoner rap. Although he thought expanding his music into a completely different genre would be a good idea, the fact is Kid Cudi is better when he’s rapping. And when he’s smoking weed.