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The Sunflower

REVIEW: ‘INSANO’ is an hour of okay hip hop/trap with underlying gems

Photo courtesy of Republic Records

Rapper Kid Cudi started the new year with his ninth studio album, “INSANO,” which ventures on an hour of hip hop/trap mix, spanning across 21 tracks. After listening to all of them and sitting on the album for a bit, I’ve got a few things to say about an experience that can only be described as tasteful.

The hip hop and trap mash that Cudi goes for on this album is executed to a fruitful degree, starting with the opening track “OFTEN, I HAVE THESE DREAMZ.” After about a 45-second intro, where Cudi and guest vocalist DJ Drama introduce themselves and the album, the hip hop/trap comes and it sticks its landing. Cudi and DJ Drama execute their lines with a reserved spice in their rap voices. 

Unfortunately, the next handful of songs until about the midpoint of the album sound incredibly similar to one another. Listening back to back, it feels like there is almost no variety; however, each track has something unique to offer under individual examination.

On the second and third tracks, “KEEP BOUNCIN’” and “GET OFF ME,” the vocal executions in the chorus sound similar. The difference is that “KEEP BOUNCIN’” has a more airy expression while “GET OFF ME” is sung in a lower, commanding tone. Additionally, “WOW” (featuring A$AP Rocky) has a beautifully sung chorus in a breathtaking ambiance. It makes me feel as if I am losing breath alongside Cudi. 

“ELECTROWAVEBABY” has a short yet punchy bassline topped with keyboard work sounding like a zen-filled whistle. This song really feels like I was riding an electric wave. 

Most of the outright variety that was lacking in the first half is in the second half. In fact, it starts with the most standout song on the entire album. “AT THE PARTY” (featuring Pharrell Williams and Travis Scott)  is not only a single, but stands out from most of the album. I think this is because the instrumentation is more drawn out and takes a backseat. It really allows Williams to come in with the intro and outro choruses and for Cudi’s and Scott’s choruses to land. The laidback execution (compared to most of the other songs on the album) allows the song to stick out. 

Two of my favorite songs are back-to-back. “TORTURED” and “X & CUD” (featuring XXXTENACION) really exemplify how incredible the more underrated tracks are. “TORTURED” talks about Cudi giving his life to inner demons and drugs because it is all he has ever known, and it’s so comfortable here. While the trap beat sounds like what has been previously heard on the album, Cudi’s delivery makes this song stand out to me. He sounds lost and accepting of his current position. The song is an amazing listen, but it can hit a bit too close to home for some listeners.

“X & CUD” (featuring (XXXTENACION), where Cudi sampled the late XXXTENACION’s song “Orlando,” feels like a conversation between X and Cudi about mental health and death. It’s a track that is supposed to directly follow “TORTURED.” The most standout aspect of “X & CUD” is Cudi’s outro verse. Cudi comes in with a delightful fire, as if he’s admonishing himself for feeling down and assuring the listener that he will be okay.

The album ends with “HIT THE STREETZ IN MY NIKES,” which has one of the best flowing choruses in the whole album. The trap beat and autotune that Cudi uses mesh well together. It leads into a 20-second outro that takes an enthralling amount of time to close the album, but before it does, it hits me with one last word that fades out: “INSANO!” It’s a song that does its diligence of being a solid closer. 

This album is a mostly captivating listening experience from front to back. It may take a couple of listens or individual track listens to fully capture the longevity of the album, but once past the more lackluster tracks in the first half, “INSANO” will hold you in place.  

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About the Contributor
Tyler Guthrie
Tyler Guthrie, Former columnist
Tyler Guthrie was a columnist with The Sunflower. Guthrie uses he/him pronouns.

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