Reviewed & Written by: Ron Grant
Cudi continues to distance himself from Hip Hop as much as possible for more challenging musical waters that include spacey techno, industrial and electronica-inspired production and rock-influenced moments of musical mayhem. The title track is the arguably the best example. It’s a dreamy, almost druggy and eye-widening ride through the sky with Cudi as the pilot leading into the mechanical cyborg leanings of “Copernicus Landing”. The ironic thing about Satellite Flight is that many of the instrumentals are some of the best and most engaging moments on the album, with the aforementioned “Copernicus Landing” and “Return Of the Moon Man” proving that point. Both tracks will inevitably intoxicate listeners and cause them to forget that they’re mere mortals walking the earth.
“Balmain Jeans” is straight up bedroom music, propped up by the Raphael Saadiq’s classic, neo soul wail. It’s undoubtedly the captivating, otherworldly highlight of the album in which Cudi’s music reaches new heights that previously had eluded him. Satellite Flight contains lots of pounding drums, epic horns, sometimes indistinguishably mumbled lyrics, plenty of Cudi’s signature drawn-out and desperate hums, dense production, emotional guitar licks, experimental instrumentals and moments where the listener won’t quite know what to make of the music as a whole.
It’s an album that’s extremely spacey and atmospheric, almost to the point of being distant and aloof. And that seems to be exactly the way Cudi wants it: he doesn’t want you to be comfortable or secure in what you’re listening to. He wants you to be challenged, confused, perplexed and knocked off your center, and he’s nearly perfected his ability to do so. But drawbacks exist. Though the brevity allows Cudi to get the point of Satellite Flight across without unnecessarily drawing the project out, listeners will be left wanting a lot more of his lyrics and crooning, especially on a brilliant moment like “In My Dreams 2015” that’s far too short. And though “Internal Bleeding” isn’t a bad song, it’s over the top with the voice inflections, indeterminable lyrics and slightly phony paranoia.
However, the things that trip the album up are few and far between. Leaving Satellite Flight on a disturbing mark with “Troubled Boy”, Cudi wraps the project in a neatly paranoid little package as only he can: attention-seeking and perplexing as ever in his muddled, bleak genius. Thanks to Kid Cudi, Satellite Flight is probably the closest many of us will get to take a trip to outer space in 2014.