Good things come in 12 inch packages. Delivering limited edition pressings of new and classic albums directly to your doorstep, Vinyl Me, Please operates under a simple philosophy: The Album Lives! With a carefully curated catalog of new and hard to find releases, the subscription service is more than just a record club, it’s a lifestyle choice for folks who wish Record Store Day could happen every month … in their living room.
Here’s how it works. You send Vinyl Me, Please some of your hard-earned money (a 3-month membership will set you back about $119) and they send you one carefully selected album they feel is Essential to any record collection. Yes, it really is as easy as it sounds. You even get FREE SHIPPING. Each custom pressing (often on colored vinyl!) also comes with killer extras like original artwork, informative booklets, or even a recipe for a companion cocktail.
You’ll have membership privileges in the VMP store too, which means you can grab a copy of previous VMP selections from the archives – including their slick February reissue of The Strokes’ sophomore album Room on Fire – not to mention a slate of super-limited releases pressed exclusively for Vinyl Me, Please. The store is open, and Team VMP are dropping fresh new selections to their stock every single week. Do not miss out.
Word to the wise, while the store is open to the public, most of the more covet-worthy stock is only available to subscribers. Members are privy to reduced “Members Pricing” as well, so joining the club definitely has its rewards. If you’re peckish about relinquishing control of your record collection to complete strangers, know that VMP’s Swaps Program is in full effect. That means you can flip any VMP pick you’re not interested in for a past AOM selection that’s a little more your speed (including picks from the Classics and Rap/Hip Hop tracks). My advice? Don’t overthink it. Do yourself a favor and sign up today.
So what choice wax did VMP drop into the March box? Nothing short of a modern hip hop masterwork from the one, the only Kid Cudi.
For The Love Of Music, Please DO NOT BEND (or how I learned to stop worrying love VMP’s best hip hop Essentials pick yet)
Alright, some of you are likely aware that I went through a period of swapping pretty much every hip hop Essentials selection VMP threw my way for while. There are a lot of reasons for that, but mostly I’m just choosy as all hell about which hip hop releases I actually want in my collection. Yes, that list is quite short, and mostly consists of instrumental hip hop albums these days. Thankfully, Team VMP got me back in the beats game with last year’s immaculate vinyl reissue of Outkast’s Stankonia. And yeah, they got me again with this month’s selection Man on the Moon: The End of the Day by Kid Cudi.
Now, by no means am I here to claim I’m a Kid Cudi super fan. To be honest, he’s someone I’ve only been casually aware of over the years. That casual awareness did actually begin with the release of his first Man on the Moon album though, which boasted contributions from both MGMT and Ratatat, whom I was very into back in 2009. Likewise, I was absolutely over the moon (all puns intended) for the album’s cover art, which is as legitimate a work of art as any album from any genre has ever featured. But for some odd reason I still can’t quite fathom, I kind of just listened to the tracks featuring the aforementioned bands and went on my way back then.
Having finally spun the album all the way through, I now comprehend exactly how much egg is on my face over that decision, ’cause as much as it pleases me to report that the Ratatat heavy “Alive (Nightmare)” and the MGMT fronting “Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare)” still rip, I’m just as happy to report the rest of the album fully effing bangs too. And as of this writing, I’m absolutely hailing it as Vinyl Me, Please’s best hip hop Essentials selection to date.
Merely labeling Man on the Moon a “rap” or “hip hop” record is almost insultingly reductive to what Kid Cudi achieves on the album, however. And to be fair, the album doesn’t exactly bang in the traditional sense of the word. Yes, there are beats and rhymes aplenty to be found in Man on the Moon‘s 15 tracks, but the album is more of a musical smorgasbord fusing elements of rock, funk, R&B, psychedelia, and lo-fi electronica to build an atmospheric yet intensely melodic piece of abstract mood pop. It’s also a full-blown concept album told in five distinct acts that finds Common narrating a tale of a lonely kid with dreams of making it big and Cudi himself neither rapping or exactly singing as he details the emotional minutiae and pop culture callbacks of adventure at hand.
In terms of emotional textures, Man on the Moon: The End of the Day frequently uses it’s dexterous sonic backdrop to explore heady themes of isolation, loneliness, and soul-crushing anxiety, but just as frequently presents sunnier pop-tinged tones that bright the mood of the heavier tracks even as they cast a light-filled shadow over them. If it feels like I’m talking more a bout literature than a hip hop album here, it’s because there’s enough pathos, narrative, and artistic ambition at play on this album than most novels dare aspire to. That this story comes rife with infectious grooves and killer hooks would seem just a welcome bonus … if, of course, those elements didn’t function as a vital storytelling technique.
As it is, I’m officially kicking myself now for not diving into the marvelously murky waters of Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon: The End of the Day back when it hit. But hey, it’s here now, and this low-key masterpiece is set to get some serious play in my house. I’m sure it will in yours too if you give it the chance.
I’ve said it a million times before, but a great cover not only serves as legitimate art, but also an artistic representation of what you might hear on the album within. And yeah, this stunner of a cover from Bill Sienkiewicz (yes that Bill Sienkiewicz) could not better represent the vibrant, heady, often sullen sonic energy captured on Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon. Ditto for Sienkiewicz’s back cover art.
Make sure you get a gander at the foil-stamped VMP tag in the corner forever hailing Man on the Moon an Essential to every record collection on planet Earth.
I’ve technically already taken the album out of its re-sealable outer sleeve, but before we move along, we’re gonna circle back to the hype sticker adorning it, because there’s some pretty information on it detailing why this pressing of Man on the Moon is the pressing of Man on the Moon. And yes, as far as credentials go, these make the album the very definition of Essential.
Now, you may or may not know, but the folks at Vinyl Me, Please have had a running sticker contest for the past several months asking subscribers to submit their designs with the possibility that said designs may end up in every members’ monthly delivery. And that contest has been every bit as fun as it sounds. March’s delicious winner comes from Joel Rockey, and it’s pretty damn groovy if I don’t say so myself.
Once you’ve digested that slick little sticker, you’ll want to check out the VMP obi-strip cradling the spine of your record as it’s also got some vital stats about the album, like its catalogue number in the Vinyl Me, Please Essentials vaults. This is indeed Essentials pick #99, and rumor has it Vinyl Me, Please is cooking up something big for #100.
There’s also a few choice words about why the folks at Vinyl Me, Please selected Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon as March’s Essentials pick.
As you might remember, every Essentials pick usually comes with a recipe for a companion cocktail. It seems Mr. Cudi isn’t much for adult beverages, so he instead chose to offer up the recipe for Escape Velocity for any and everyone looking to leave orbit. Feel free to take that concept however you like, and rest assured that the math probably checks out here.
Now, one of the true joys of every Essentials pick is the album-inspired artwork that comes in the box. And March’s Man on the Moon print (from none other than Bill Sienkiewicz himself, mind you) is truly one for the ages.
As you’re pondering what your own brain looks like on Man on the Moon, you might be getting a little eager to finally spin the damned album already and see how it sounds. Before you dig that wax out of the sleeve, please spend a moment or two ogling the contents adorning the inside of that Tip-on gatefold sleeve. Yes, there’s more marvelous Sienkiewicz artwork in there. And there’s also a full breakdown of Kid Cudi’s lyrics from the album, which you’ll almost certainly find yourself wanting to talk along with after a couple of listens.
There’s also a list of who did what on Man on the Moon, which is notable because there’s a couple of big names guesting on this album.
As for the wax inside, well, one of those discs (the orange one) is a legit work of art. The other was meant to be a purple galaxy effect on par with the orange, but it obviously didn’t quite come out that way and looks more or less straight black with tinges of deep purple.
Which is fine cause it really does f***ing bang on your deck … even if its orange counterpart looks so much sexier.
How to they sound? Kinda like that wild ass wormhole trip from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey kicked a beat and released an album … if that makes sense. And it will when you spin this gem. Trust me.
Give VMP a Spin
As someone whose list of likes in the land of hip hop is admittedly a bit slim, I’m exactly the sort of person who might benefit exponentially from a record club that’s also pretty damned choosy about which hip hop albums they can drop on their subscribers. While I haven’t always given some of VMP’s hip hop releases much of a chance in the past (I’ve actually swapped more than I’ve spun), I could not be happier about giving Man on the Moon a chance this month. Quite honestly, this album exceeded my expectations in literally every possible way, and may well have made a Kid Cudi fan of me. As it is, Man on the Moon is a legit discovery for me, and discovering new music outside of your comfort zone is a big part what joining a record club is all about. Thanks for helping me find this one, VMP!
A big THANK YOU to our friends at Vinyl Me, Please for sponsoring this subscription. Don’t forget to check out the Vinyl Me, Please website and sign up to get some choice wax delivered right to your door each and every month! Be sure to check back next month when I’ll be unboxing VMP’s Essentials selection number 100! Here’s hoping they celebrate the momentous occasion with their crunchiest pick yet!