Kid Cudi's latest album has flown under the radar because of its release right before Christmas, but it is definitely worth revisiting.
Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin' is full of experimental production, moody tracks and, most importantly, the return of Kid Cudi the rapper.
The atmospheric, R&B Cudi is definitely still here but, for the first time in years, he's back with some rap-heavy tracks like Baptized in Fire (featuring Travis Scott) and Distant Fantasies, allowing him to really say something with the kind of fire he's been missing.
But while Cudi frames his verses within these other-worldly and grandiose tracks, he's not really saying too much. Where others are making huge statements with their music, Cudi simply takes us back down the same road lined largely with his personal demons.
That said, the production's stepped up a notch on this album, perhaps because Cudi's finally let other producers - including Dot da Genius, Mike Dean, Mike Will Made It, Anthony Kilhoffer and Plain Pat - into the fold rather than taking it all on himself like he has done for years now.
He's also got help from Pharrell Williams, Andre 3000, Travis Scott and Willow Smith, who all feature on the album, meaning there are some cool new elements to PP&DS, but perhaps not enough to break through the sameness of the rest of it.
The album drags on. There are a handful of tracks which sound so similar, Cudi could have done away with them and made it a 12-track release instead of the 19 tracks it holds.
But the silver lining is when tracks like Frequency, By Design, Flight at First Sight, Wounds and Surfin' come along, they really stand out.
Kid Cudi, Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin'
Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin'
Well worth a listen for the hidden gems.