CudYe Reborn ?
Reborn is a track demonstrating the collaborative genius of Kanye West and Kid Cudi or KIDS SEE GHOSTS (KSG) on their self-titled album. They have continuously succeeded in producing melodic music that speaks sonically to the new generation. Their creative kinship ignores convention by innovating and arguably broadening the boundaries of what is considered Rap music today. Their collaborations on 808s & Heartbreak pretty much laid the foundation for today’s ‘alternative’ rap.
Reborn is the 5th track and it elevates the album to new heights. It is a celebration of a fruitful relationship between the two artists and their awareness of composition and each other. Again they have shifted the tectonics of rap through the production of this awe-inspiring track.
Firstly, the track title is ‘Reborn’. This concept is prevalent in theology and belongs to an archetype in the arts. Here KSG are revealing themselves, their rebirth was not without tribulation both artists have struggled significantly with mental health. Transformation through tribulation is particularly appealing to the underdog, it reminds us that our current predicaments are not permanent.
The chorus opens the song and it is not far from a cry of salvation. Elation rises from within, thanks to the near choral sermon sung by Kid Cudi. His vocals hold a rawness that speaks. Cudi sings as if he is prophesising, every word spiritual in communicating its truth. Listening to this song you will find your eyes closed, close to prayer. It makes us realise that we have come so far because we keep moving forward despite (insert your affliction here). It encourages us to stop and celebrate our perseverance.
Kid Cudi is what honesty sounds like and he manages to produce real emotional content through his vulnerability. On this track, Kanye definitely shares the strength of vulnerability. He sounds humbled in his verse. Kanye raps with the enunciation of colloquial speech. In fact, he sounds near tired as if his efforts to lobotomise himself for us to understand his views are in vain. He is not regretful nor apologetic because he chooses honesty “what an awesome thing, engulfed in shame”. This is a powerful line in his verse explaining that once we lose the sense of shame we can be reborn. Kanye is a superb lyricist he uses metaphor, homophones and lyrics riddled with paradox to highlight both the debilitating and supernatural powers of having bi-polar disorder. Throughout his verse we find that Kanye subscribes to the “refined by fire” discourse, he wants “all the pain” he views it as the precondition to grow and to be reborn. Kanye is moving forward reminding us that we do not have to be the same person we were last week or even yesterday.
Kid Cudi’s verse is not as lyrically mystifying but his lethargic and textured sounds take us to a place of struggle. His lyrics are more of a mantra as he repeats “peace is something that starts with me” twice within his short verse. The simplicity of this line is perhaps the most powerful on the entire track. If we were ever lost on this sonic journey he points us in the right direction. No one is as absent of bravado and willing to share themselves as much as Cudi. He admits defeat unlike many rappers who claim to be immune to such natural occurrences. Not only do we relate to his struggle we cling onto it.
After Cudi’s verse, we experience more than ten seconds of vocal absence from 3:50-4:02. This is a moment of introspection for both Kid Cudi and us. These few moments are especially emotive, the absence of vocals force us to confront ourselves. The first time you hear this song you may feel sadness in the silence because it removes the protective mechanism of vocals, here we confront our truths. Judging by Kid Cudi’s adlibs post silence we realise that the struggles will continue, but so will we.
Together they have created a beautiful track weighted in honesty that has managed to capture our internal experiences – enriching our ears, souls and minds.
Written by Monique McPherson