Kid Cudi's "Passion, Pain, & Demon Slayin'" Has Atmosphere, But Lacks Material

Kid Cudi has been tearing up the scene for years now, and he's rolling into the new year with a new album to support. Passion, Pain, & Demon Slayin' is Cudi's sixth record, and while it has solid vibes, it lacks something to keep the flow going.

Let's start off with what it does have going for it. The beginning quarter of the record really introduces the record powerfully. 'Frequency' opens the record, wobbly synths and Cudi's nonchalant flow pairing together to create a wonderfully chill atmosphere to sit back and vibe to, with 'Swim In The Light' following up in much the same way. The instrumental starts to take precedence over all else in 'Releaser,' the pretty elements to the sonic soundscape really adding a lot of texture to the track.

Chill vibes continue through with 'All In,' but at this point the album begins to sound a bit monotonous. In this song's case, it saves itself by percussion adding some drive and energy at the end, paired with nice melodies soaring above them. The arpeggiating synths of 'ILLusion' also add some flavor to the record, saving it from a real crash. The first indication of something going awry is 'By Design.' The instrumental is all well and good, but the lyrics and flow (and André 3000) just don't fit well with the context of the track. The last good track on the record's front half if 'Rose Golden' featuring Willow Smith. It's wonderful instrumental is paired with sweet harmonies and very relatable lyrics to a wide range of individuals. It's a success story set to retrospective lyrics - that's guaranteed success.

You then enter the core of the record, and things fall apart. It's not this album becomes a cluttered mess; in fact, it's quite the contrary: the record becomes far too central. The run of 'Does It' to 'Kitchen' really doesn't do the record any justice - it's just a repetitive vibe that, at that point of the record, it simply just over done and monotonous. These are solid songs that keep the momentum rolling, but far too slowly. On a record like this, this can't happen. They need something to elevate them just a tiny bit so that there could be some form of energy, or even life, in these tracks. It really kills the flow of the record.

The ending of the record picks it up a bit. 'Cosmic Warrior' has a pulsing bass and sparkly synth that create a spacey vibe (as the title would suggest), giving a new sound to the record that immediately grabs your ears. The melodies also ring really sweetly and mysteriously above the constantly shifting drama of the instrumental. This track is diverse and action packed, really giving one last hope for the record to perk up. 'Surfin'' closes the record off, Pharrell providing vocals and production to the track - the groovy bassline and punchy trumpets simply couldn't be done by anyone else. It's a strong, optimistic, and energetic note to end the record on.

Kid Cudi's Passion, Pain, & Demon Slayin' has atmosphere, but lacks material where it really needs it. The album's beginning and end are very captivating, but the core is just boring. It's a trap several hip-hop artists have been falling into lately. The bad tracks are sandwiched between the good - it's a shame that there can't be a consistently strong flow of tracks throughout. Cudi has it in him to make great material, but Passion, Pain, & Demon Slayin' just doesn't feel like it hit the mark.

Favorite Tracks: Cosmic Warrior, Rose Golden, Surfin'

Least Favorite Tracks: Does It through Kitchen

Rating: 65 / 100

Buy or listen to Passion, Pain, & Demon Slayin' here: