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Tunes Review – WZRD

You got to hand it to these guys—WZRD is a pretty decent name for a rock band.

Made up of magic mushroom-inspired rapper Kid Cudi and producer Dot da Genius, WZRD is an album of psychedelic thrash and grungy riffs made by two hip hop luminaries as an ode to their Cleveland rock city.

For fans of Cudi’s molasses flow and spacey hip-hop, you may be surprised. WZRD is an album made up of not a single rap, with Kudi preferring to croon his way over guitar, bass and drums that Cudi and Dot da Genius recorded themselves.

But don’t worry; WZRD is nowhere near as jarring of a hard rock project by a popular rapper as Lil’ Wayne’s Rebirth. Instead, WZRD seems to be an album made by two guys who truly love the rock music of the 90s and just happened to find careers in the hip-hop world.

Originally planning to record the album in one of the best studios they could afford, the pair regrouped wherever they could to put together WZRD, with the majority of the tracks being recorded on their tour bus and at Kid Cudi’s home. The result is a truly grungy-sounding record (which only becomes more clear when you open up the album and find Cudi in the liner notes wearing a cut-off jean jacket like an early 90s Bruce Dickinson).

But that doesn’t mean this album is just straight ahead hard rock. “Dream Machine” is an intergalactic love song recorded in part with Australian psych rockers Empire of the Sun and recalls MGMT or Phil Collins. Then there are moments a hell of a lot darker on the record, like Cudi’s cover of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”, a haunting folk tune that emerged in the early 1900s and has been performed by Leadbelly and Nirvana. Thankfully, Cudi retains the song’s original nightmarish quality.

Critics will likely dismiss this album as being too off the wall, but there is something charming about Cudi and Dot da Genius being able pull off this kind of album so flawlessly.

But hey, 66,000 people can’t be wrong: the album debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top 200.

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