Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager

As Drake and Kanye West have demonstrated, there's room in hip-hop for melancholic MCs who upend the self-congratulation that dominates the genre. The problem with Kid Cudi is that, since his hypnotic breakout single, "Day 'N' Nite," he's grown rote in his self-pity and flat as a singer: "These worries are heavy, they rest on my shoulders," he repeats in his hypomelodic baritone on "These Worries." "The darkness, yeah, I'd like to marry it," goes a line from "Maniac." His second album features dramatic, breathtakingly stark production by Emile and Plain Pat ("Wild'n Cuz I'm Young," riddled with sonar-style beeps, kills), but where Cudi fancies himself a deep downer, too often he's kind of a bore.

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