Kid Cudi’s sophomore album, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, is a follow up and sequel to Kid Cudi’s first album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day. Like his first album, The Legend of Mr. Rager, is a conceptual album, with a five acts that involve an overall narrative. Interestingly, this story can be seen as much looser than his previous album with the omission of any narration; This leads the Legend of Mr. Rager to therefore be open to the interpretation of its listeners. Although Man on the Moon II has garnered mixed reviews since its release in 2010, in my opinion, the story of Mr. Rager is one of the most interesting and engaging narratives in Hip Hop music. Cudi’s nact for crafting albums is again put on the forefront, along with his use of detail and polish that quickly become apparent as we dive back into the mind of Kid Cudi.
As a note, Instead of simply touching on each song and aspect of the album, the purpose of this analysis is to look into the actual Legend of Mr. Rager, who that is, and how his story is seamlessly incorporated into the album.
Firstly, to explain who or what Mr. Rager is, it’s vital to understand where he seemingly appears within the album. While the first three acts of Man on the Moon II; The World Im Ruling, A Stronger Trip, and Party On, seem to be disconnected from Mr. Rager, the seeds that are planted throughout these acts being to show as the album’s narrative unfolds. The first half of the album act as an introduction to Cudi, who again plays the role as the hero of the story within his dreams and mind, but this time around, everything is much more grounded in reality. The intro song, Scott Mescudi vs. The World, makes obvious parallels to the character Scott Pilgrim, and tells of Cudi as a young hero who is dealing with the struggles of life, along with fighting off his own demons.
The third act of the album, Party On, can be seen as the drugged out and introspective Cudi many fans have come to be familiar with. Cudi demonstrates a level of confidence and swagger that he does not normally portray. Tracks like Mojo So Dope, Ashin’ Kusher, and Wild’n Cuz I’m Young, show off Cudi as begins to dip further into drugs and giving less of a fuck about other’s opinions.
The last song of the act, The Mood, it’s the most compelling however as is the catalyst for the rise of Mr. Rager. The first sound aside from the instrumental the listener is met with is a wicked, evil, and insane sounding laugh that is heard throughout the track. With this, Cudi talks about and uses cocaine within the song, which leads him to “ the mood.” This song sets the stage for Cudi’s appropriately titled fourth act, The Transformation. The next song, MANIAC, being to explore a much darker and disturbing part of Cudi’s psyche. This track is accompanied by the eerie repetition of St. Vincent’s vocals:
The next song following this descent into Cudi’s madness seems to fully revel Mr. Rager and his true nature becomes clear in the self-titled song, Mr. Rager. It is at this point, the rager is brought to light for the listener.
Like other persona’s such as Tyler the Creator’s, Wolf Haley, or Eminem’s Slim Shady, Mr. Rager can be seen as Kid Cudi’s alter-ego when/after he uses cocaine. Within the context of the album, Mr. Rager remained dormant within Cudi until he gave into temptation within the song, The Mood. After, Mr. Rager was released within Cudi, his darker side began to form and the songs MANIAC and Mr. Rager, followed. This point is driven home with the track, These Worries, as the most telling tracks on the album.
These Worries, with its chorus by Mary J. Blige, can be seen as a regular song on the surface, but once one takes notice of its smaller details, the climax can be seen clearly. Before each verse, Cudi, starts by snorting a line of cocaine in the song, which can be clearly heard right before he begins the verse. The first words from Cudi, or Mr. Rager, declare, “The Crazy, The Wizard…” Equally, the same sequence of events take place on the second verse, but the first lines Cudi declares this time are “The Rager, The Menace…” and at these point the listener “witnesses” first-hand Cudi’s transformation outright. Cudi begins to rap lines about abusing alcohol, high-fiving sinners, and seeing the devil which almost contradict his initial positive and uplifting vibe at the beginning of the album. The Rager, is the self-loathing, destructive, violent, and swagger filled Cudi that slowly crept onto the album. He is the crazy. He is the menace; To himself and others. Worst of all, Mr. Rager is not simply an antagonist to Cudi’s hero, he is Cudi himself.
By the end, Cudi himself realizes he has become his own worst enemy. The “lionhearted” hero from the first album becomes mixed with the thoughts from the Rager and then show how Cudi was transformed himself into his own villain. Man on the Moon II not only serves as a sequel to the story of Cudi as a hero, but also demonstrates how he began to deal with situations and dilemmas out of his dreams and in his own mind. The Legend of Mr. Rager serves as a reminder than even Cudi, the hero of his own story, can quickly become his own villain if he does not uphold the same values and lessons he learned from his past journey.
While Man on the Moon: The End of Day, serves as a coming of age story, it’s sequel, Legend of Mr. Rager, uses that platform to dive into much darker and more mature content as it twists the ideals of a hero and flips them on their head. But just as any hero, Cudi seems to prevail, but in a much different way. Since there is no overt villain to defeat, Cudi himself becomes trapped within his mind. He is in a “prison” but he is happy where he is at. As with Cudi’s first album, the listener again experiences a full arc of growth and a change in Cudi’s character after his “run-in” with Mr. Rager: instead of running away from his problems, Cudi stays within his mind to face the good, along with the bad, ready to accept them both and waiting to see where it takes him next, and that is the Legend of Mr. Rager.