Will Kid Cudi ever find true happiness? That dilemma lies at the crux of Indicud, an album that the mercurial rapper has claimed in interviews is more “positive” than his lonely stoner adventures of yore, but which simply trades inert depression for defiant, defensive “King Wizard” triumphalism. Its cover art displays a maelstrom of fire bracketed by an ornately designed frame, a synthesis of high-art aspirations and uncontrollable fury suitable for the Lord of the Sad and Lonely.
But the real question here is whether you should care at all. It has been over four years since Cudi transfixed a mainstream audience with “Day ‘N Nite” and “Pursuit of Happiness,” the two droll, goofily trippy singles from his debut album, 2009’s Man on the Moon: The End of Day. The second installment in his ad-hoc Man on the Moon series, the following year’s The Legend of Mr. Rager, was actually much better than its predecessor, but it lacked those charming breakout hits. (Last year’s insufferably lugubrious WZRD project is best left unexplored here.) Kid Cudi may claim to love being a cult artist, but he knows that cult artists are in frequent peril of slipping into irrelevance. He aims to avoid that irrelevance by raging against it.