KiD CuDi has been on a pursuit of happiness his entire career, and maybe most of his 30-year-old life. Perhaps someone who’s followed him and set memories to his music, like myself, would even say that his darkest hours painted some of his most vibrant tracks. And while most normal people would agree that it’s hard to call yourself a good person when you say things like, “well, maybe some people are just meant to be unhappy,” I ponder the idea as I try to listen to CuDi’s new music.

It may not be a golden rule, but it’s certainly a good bet that darker music has the ability to stir people unlike any other type. We’ve seen artists like Portishead, The Weeknd (when he was relevant), and a post-808s Kanye make a living off of this. KiD CuDi joins an eccentric cast of artists with an uncanny ability to make pain sound so good that they’ve waged successful careers within a pretty crowded market.

As one of those weird people who actually still cares about lyrics, I’d still say that I love the production value and atmosphere that darker vibes deploy the most. Those stark, spacey vocals. Those ethereal synths that we float on. The name London Grammar comes to mind, but I don’t want to forget that I’m supposed to be talking about CuDi here.

Maybe that’s the problem though: he’s buried beneath a sea of artists who are outdoing him at his niche.

These new cats get it. It’s not about hip-hop or alternative or whatever. It’s about music that showcases the more unsettling shades of being a person, and CuDi’s recent effort is confused and empty. By the time I reached “Troubled Boy,” I was still waiting for the album to begin.

At some point in his career, it’s clear that Scott Mescudi (the person) was met with the challenge of how he could mature into a functioning adult while also pedaling the chain-smoking, reckless kid from Cleveland (the artist) that his fans wanted to hear. Maybe it’s when this happened:

Kid-Cudi-No-Marijuana

Again, it would be morbid of me to suggest that CuDi’s creative compass has suffered from his sobriety, and that sonically, he’s better off drugged out. But it sure does suck that CuDi’s “growth” had to come at the expense of his mojo. You know, that day when your favorite artist forgets about you. Most of the time it’s because they’re too busy at the bank, and while KiD CuDi might not be looking at Jay Z numbers, he is starring in Need for Speed (March 14) alongside Aaron Paul and, of course, he’s also playing the role of Ari Gold’s new assistant in the much anticipated Entourage movie.

kid-cudi-entourage-movie

Maybe he’s distracted, but that only makes self assured statements about Satellite Flight being his “best work to date” even more annoying, especially when you consider that he said the same exact thing about his second most recent album, Indicud. To think for one minute that CuDi has progressed musically since then is almost laughable to me.

That being said, I actually liked Indicud. Sure, it was all over the placeconsidering Cudder’s previous work hinged highly on a sort of comic book storytellingbut it was a zealous album that never found him more present and alive.

Satellite Flight sounds like something you make after too much celebration. I liked “Balmain Jeans” for about 40 seconds, but otherwise the project does nothing for me. For the first time, I listened to a KiD CuDi project and felt like an earthling. The Moon Man metaphor just seems out of reach now, although CuDi does seem to be falling fast. It’s blighting to say as a fan, but for as much as music has been KiD CuDi’s most potent drug, he’s finally numbing some of his listeners with it and putting them to sleep instead.

On that note, I wasn’t surprised to read in Complex that CuDi recorded most of this album sober. I mean, I’m glad he’s finally in a good place, but…you know. I’ve accepted the thought as an evil I can’t shake. My only hope is that Scott does better on the big screen.