Great Albums You May Have Missed: “Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’”


Ashley Hawkins

Kid Cudi’s “Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’” arrived in 2016 to little fanfare, but “Flight at First Sight/Advanced” is one of many hidden gems on the album.

Brooks Coleman, Staff Reporter

The following article features an album containing explicit content.

Kid Cudi’s raw 2015 rock album “Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven” indicated one thing: Scott Mescudi was not in a very good place.

“SB2H,” while not by any means a very good album, offered a pretty startling look into Kid Cudi’s psyche at the time. Cudi talks about feeling broken at length on the album, helping the LP to paint a pretty convincing portrait of a man on the edge. 

However, “SB2H” was (justifiably) widely panned by critics, making it the latest in a series of Cudi albums that garnered tepid reactions. Because of this, not many people really paid attention to his 2016 follow-up, “Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’,” especially due to its marathon of a runtime, lasting one hour and 27 minutes. 

This is pretty unfortunate because “Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’” or “PPDS” is absolutely worth your while.

Cudi once again teams up with Dot da Genius on “PPDS,” who produced the “Man on the Moon” album trilogy as well as their 2013 collaboration “WZRD.” However, Cudi and Dot depart from their usual intergalactic production style, instead incorporating wind flutes, steel drums, and heavy synths to create a sinister yet tropical sound.

The album opens with “Frequency,” a perfect intro for what you’re about to hear. Cudi repeatedly invites the listener to “tune on in to the frequency” on the track, which is pretty accurate for an album that seems to operate on a different wavelength than others. The heavy incorporation of wind flutes and ominous synths makes for a mysterious and effective entrance into the world of “PPDS.”

“PPDS” is an album where Cudi seems to take time to find himself. After the tumultuous time in Cudi’s life that produced “SB2H,” Cudi sounds freer on this album: free to experiment, free to take risks, free to whisper an entire song, as he did on “Releaser.” 

That creative freedom produces some brilliant tracks, the best of which is “By Design.” This one highlights a rare André 3000 feature, which is utilized perfectly — 3 Stacks has a noticeable contribution to the song, but he doesn’t completely dominate it.  The key to “By Design” is balance — every element of the song, from 3000’s verse to Cudi’s hook to the great production, works in perfect harmony.

Another highlight is the Pharrell-assisted “Flight at First Sight/Advanced,” a two-parted love song with a beat switch halfway through. The song is exotic, and Cudi does just enough to make the track catchy without being annoying. 

The record closes perfectly with another Pharrell collaboration, “Surfin’.” This was released as the lead single for “PPDS,” and its message of finding your own path instead of following others is really fitting to end the journey that the album embarks on. Cudi implies that he has overcome the myriad of problems he was faced with at the time, instead choosing to “surf his own wave.”

This album is not without its faults. It can be a slog to get through at times if you’re sitting down to listen to the whole album all the way through. Some of its songs, namely “The Guide” and “Dance 4 Eternity,” are really weird and border on uncomfortable to listen to.

However, these missteps are few and far between. For the most part, “PPDS” offers an exotic and freeing listen, a fresh new chapter in the twisting and turning career path of Scott Mescudi. Even though this album has 19 songs, just about all of them hit the mark, which is impressive considering the length of this album. 

If you’ve overlooked this album in the past, I don’t really blame you. But I encourage you to sit down and give “Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’” a chance because this album has something for everyone.