Writer: Kyle Wheelock
This here is “Kids See Ghosts,” the self-titled debut album by Kids See Ghosts, a duo consisting of Kanye West and Kid Cudi. We’re in the middle of this string of Kanye West produced “mini” albums, which started with Pusha T’s “Daytona,” and was continued with Kanye’s own “Ye,” last week. We can still expect upcoming projects from Nas and Teyana Taylor.
With Kanye producing so many albums in a short time frame, I was worried about the overall quality of these projects, despite his less than 10 song plan. And yes, “Daytona” was a really good album and I still enjoy it, but “Ye” was…a mixed bag, to put it nicely. Before this album here, Kanye was 1-2 on this run he’s embarked on so I didn’t know what to expect going into “Kids See Ghosts.” Then I heard the live stream and I was underwhelmed. Kanye’s antics were finally wearing on me and the first listen didn’t go well, at all.
Enter the studio version and it’s like night and day, the mixing is unbelievably better than “Ye”’s was. Instrumentally, everything sounds clear and in the right place. The production sounds much more full and complete than on the stream, and it makes such a difference when you listen to a Kanye project since he hasn’t really offered anything lyrically worthwhile since “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” (or even “Yeezus,” if you wanted to argue). The first song, “Feel the Love,” has some major “Yeezus” vibes, both in its production and in Kanye’s erratic uh, verse? Adlibs? I honestly don’t know what he’s doing here, but it’s wild and very jarring. I liked Yeezus, but it took a while to grow on me, and since that’s what this song reminds me of, it might do the same so I won’t write it off just yet. Kid Cudi on this song sounds great, as he comes in strong on the chorus and really fits with the beat.
In fact, Cudi shines a lot on the tracks where he’s prominently featured. It’s a duo but I get the impression that they’re just taking turns dominating the track’s here; one track will sound more like Kid Cudi ft. Kanye, and the next will be Kanye ft. Cudi, and it feels like (to me, anyway) we’re getting a lot more of the latter here on this album. We haven’t heard from Cudi since 2016’s “Passion, Pain, & Demon Slayin’,” an album that I really REALLY liked when it came out, so personally, I was hoping to hear more from Cudi on this. Tracks like “Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2),” “Reborn,” and, “Fire,” all showcase the best of just about every Kid Cudi and Kanye collab we’ve gotten. The beats vary from angry and energized to psychedelic (which is a huge swing considering this is another 7 track album) and they prove to be the perfect playing ground for the dynamic duo.
Having been frequent collaborators for roughly 10 years now, Cudi and Kanye have an incredible chemistry, they two are mutual fans of each other’s’ work and they bring the best out of each other when they hit the studio together like on this project. Kanye’s production sets the tone beautifully with a mix of samples, be it from an old 1936 Christmas single or a Kurt Cobain home recording, the man’s creativity is matched by only a few producers in the world. Kanye is incredibly talented when he really gets in his bag. “Daytona” sounded great, “Ye,” while I don’t care for it, still has its Kanye highlights production-wise, and “Kids See Ghosts,” is no different. Sonically, this is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, the sound selection is perfect on every single song, the mixing is as on point as you can get, the samples are used in such creative ways, and the percussion always morphs into what it needs to be from track to track
If it sounds like I’m gushing over this album, I am, and it deserves it. I love this thing top to bottom (which admittedly isn’t a lot because it’s only 7 songs but still) and am happy to declare that Mr. West is 2-3 on these Wyoming albums. Kid Cudi, while underutilized just a bit, in my opinion, is in peak form here, with strong and melodic performances track after track. And Kanye…is Kanye. His production work is flawless, his personality is just as erratic and his verses can be clever and funny at times (but not without flaws, he’s not exactly a top MC) which is always great to hear. As a whole, this album is great and I’m excited to hear more of Kanye has in the vault for Nas and especially for Teyana Taylor.
TL;DR This thing is great, listen immediately (unless you’ve, “cancelled,” Kanye)
Highlights: It’s 7 songs, the whole thing is a highlight