Kid Cudi "INSANO (NITRO MEGA)" Review

BYWyatt Westlake2.1K Views
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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 13: Kid Cudi attends The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

"INSANO (NITRO MEGA)" is ultimately nothing groundbreaking, but serves its purpose for an artist that has constantly pushed himself musically.

Kid Cudi said in his 2021 documentary, A Man Named Scott that he no longer desires “to make any more dark records.” His 2020 album, Man On The Moon III: The Chosen, closed his iconic saga that introduced his unconventional style and emotionally transparent lyricism. Early in his career, fans connected to Cudi through songs that saw him in his most desolate state. Man On the Moon III concluded this chapter in his musical journey, but it also signified the start of something new. Lately, Kid Cudi has tapped into other aspects of his musical skill set. His Entergalactic album chronicled the love story of his star-studded animated film of the same name. 

After all these years, it seems that Kid Cudi does not have anything to prove to his core fanbase. Last month, he unleashed INSANO, his latest studio album that saw him simply enjoying himself, freely experimenting with his sound. More rap-oriented than any previous project, Cudi traded his catchy melodies and irresistible hums for fast flows. A more upbeat and modern album is a natural progression for Kid Cudi considering his newfound lighter approach to music. While INSANO consisted of high-energy production, it was not varied enough to sustain its lengthy runtime. For such a long album, the announcement of a deluxe felt like an overwhelming amount of material in such a short amount of time. However, Kid Cudi’s latest offering, INSANO (NITRO MEGA), acts more as a sequel than a deluxe.

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INSANO (NITRO MEGA) Is An Entirely New Album

Originally announced as a deluxe, Kid Cudi later clarified that INSANO (NITRO MEGA) is a completely new album. Acting as a spiritual successor to INSANO, its sequel contains entirely new material along with some surprises for Cudi’s day-one fans. Also included is “Electrowavebaby 2.0,” a Steve Aoki remix that reimagines the song from INSANO as a big room house banger. It brings a brand new lively energy to the original song despite feeling out of place on the album. INSANO was adventurous in its own way, but Aoki’s contributions to a house remix and a trap song with members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony speak to the wide range of NITRO MEGA that its predecessor ultimately lacked. This album continues the carefree and vibrant nature of INSANO but with more musical variety throughout the tracklist. 

Much like on Man On The Moon III and Entergalactic, Kid Cudi rapped over modern trap with auto-tuned ad-libs on INSANO. NITRO MEGA continues the bouncy trap production but with more musical variety. The album includes Fast House, Jersey Club, and slower melodic tracks. The diverse tracklist makes it an entertaining listen that is unique from its precursor, but it is nothing particularly innovative or outstanding for Kid Cudi. 

Where Kid Cudi’s Latest Offering Impresses and Underwhelms

The music on INSANO (NITRO MEGA) is good for the most part with Kid Cudi at peace emotionally and creatively. There is a solid mix between uptempo trap beats and laidback songs reminiscent of Man On The Moon III. NITRO MEGA includes some of the slow melodies that were mostly missing from the original, which are some of the album’s standout moments. Tracks like “Diamonds Lights Fast Cars” and “All My Life” bring the best out of Cudi vocally while “Round N Round” with Lil Yachty is one of its most generic moments.

The bursts of energy on NITRO MEGA also contribute to its dynamic tracklist. “Human Made” opens the album on a high note with an incredible beat produced by Dot Da Genius. Cudi sounds amazing on this track, switching between flows and singing a soft melody in the chorus. Songs like “Animate” also impress as Cudi flexes his illustrious career and carefree attitude. Where NITRO MEGA underwhelms is when the trap songs sound almost identical to much of INSANO. “Crash Test Cudi,” “Ill What I Bleed,” “Moon Man Shit,” and “Superboy” serve as reminders of where INSANO fell flat. However, these tracks would certainly punch harder if Kid Cudi had not released a 21-track album just a month earlier. As a standalone project, this album certainly has its highlights and its shortcomings.

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INSANO (NITRO MEGA) Encompasses The Best and Worst Eras Of Kid Cudi

INSANO (NITRO MEGA) is clearly intended for day-one Kid Cudi fans. Glimpses of the old Cudi are dispersed throughout the INSANO sound. It encompasses the best and worst eras of Kid Cudi. There is the melodic creativity of the first two Man On the Moon albums and the lively confidence of Indicud and Man On the Moon III. Unfortunately, the album’s lowest moments like “Willis” also contain his most cringeworthy vocal performances reminiscent of WZRD and Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven. In fact, “Rocket (2011)” is a previously unreleased track from the WZRD sessions. It satisfies diehard fans that have demanded the song for over a decade. Still, it disconnects from the rest of the album. 

Another fan favorite that sees an official release on INSANO (NITRO MEGA) is “Dose of Dopeness (2007).” This track restores the feeling of Man On The Moon Kid Cudi as a beautifully written song. It is a standout moment on the album, but it also sits awkwardly within the tracklist considering Kid Cudi’s deliberate musical progression. The inclusion of both “Rocket (2011)” and “Dose Of Dopeness (2007)” act as a time capsule for his core fanbase, highlighting his musical peaks and valleys. 

Exciting & Familiar Collaborations

INSANO branched out with its guest features. It included many of the artists inspired by Kid Cudi, such as Travis Scott, Lil Yachty, and Young Thug. Except for Pharrell and Lil Wayne, the overall aesthetic and features of younger artists feel intentionally modern. The familiar collaborations on INSANO (NITRO MEGA) on the other hand appear to be catered to Cudi's core fans. Frequent collaborator Chip Tha Ripper returns to his old alias for two songs, and the aforementioned Steve Aoki tracks add to their working relationship. The features from Layzie and Krayzie Bone are an organic Cleveland connection. Additionally, Cudi and Pusha T’s reconnection recalls the GOOD Music days. It was good to see him branching out on INSANO, but he has significantly better chemistry with most of the collaborators on NITRO MEGA. 

Overall, Kid Cudi’s latest offering plays more smoothly than its predecessor because of its eclectic tracklist, though it has its blemishes. In one way, it jumps all over the place, but it is also a well-rounded and enjoyable listen. Lyrically, it is not anything extraordinary, but it makes its point as a fun project dedicated to Cudi’s day-one supporters. INSANO (NITRO MEGA) is ultimately nothing groundbreaking. However, it serves its purpose for an artist who has constantly pushed himself musically. Kid Cudi is still very much in a creative zone, churning out a whopping 39 songs already this year with more new material on the way. It speaks to his artistic evolution and his personal growth.

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About The Author
Wyatt Westlake is a writer from Somerville, MA. He has been writing about hip hop, RnB, and beyond for almost a decade, joining the HNHH team in 2023. Majoring in Communication Studies, he is currently finishing his BA at Temple University. Wyatt is also a radio presenter, hosting his own shows and curating eclectic playlists since 2019. An avid concert-goer, one all-time moment for him was when Dave brought him onstage to perform “Thiago Silva” in front of a sold-out crowd.