On September 15, 2009, Kid Cudi dropped an album that sent ripples throughout rap. With the release of Man on the Moon: The End of Day, the Cleveland rapper lived up to the potential he showed on his 2008 mixtape, A Kid Named Cudi, and established himself as one of the most popular new artists in music.
In the decade since the arrival of MOTM, its impact has been felt in a variety of ways. A generation of artists, ranging from Jaden Smith to Travis Scott, have credited Cudi’s approach to music as a major inspiration for their careers. The album successfully blended the sounds of hip-hop, pop, and rock in a seamless way that hadn’t been heard before, serving as a blueprint for genre-bending rap albums that followed. And Cudi’s vulnerable, honest lyrics connected with fans on an intensely personal level, opening rap up to a new approach to songwriting in the process.
There’s no way to quantify the exact impact and influence of MOTM, but there is a lot to analyze about the album itself. In celebration of its 10-year anniversary, we took a deep dive into its lyrical themes, production, and sales, for a statistics-based look at the project. This is Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon: The End of Day, by the numbers.
SINGING VS. RAPPING
In 2009, Kid Cudi was at the forefront of a wave of rappers who sang their own hooks and heavily incorporated melody into their songs. The arrival of MOTM made it clear that Cudi was just as comfortable singing as he was rapping. Breaking down the total seconds he spent on each discipline, the split is fairly even: 44 percent singing and 56 percent rapping. And if you analyze the total words he sang and rapped, the ratio is reversed, with 54.5 percent singing and 45.5 percent singing. In comparison, on So Far Gone—also released in 2009—Drake spent 38 percent of the project singing and 62 percent rapping.
Ten producers contributed to the making of Man on the Moon: The End of Day. The project’s executive producers are listed as Kid Cudi, Emile Haynie, Kanye West, Plain Pat, and Sylvia Rhone. Haynie earned the most credits, with four, producing “In My Dreams (Cudder Anthem),” “Soundtrack 2 My Life,” “Solo Dolo (Nightmare),” and “Cudi Zone.” Cudi contributed to the production, as well, co-producing "Day ‘N’ Nite (Nightmare)" and “Sky Might Fall,” while close collaborator Kanye has two credits of his own on “Make Her Say” and “Sky Might Fall.”
We’ve all seen the memes about Kid Cudi constantly humming on songs. But how often does he really do it? On MOTM, Cudi hummed 11 times, for a total of 14 seconds. [For the purposes of this analysis, we only counted hums as the times he made an “mmm” sound. Other elongated sounds, like his famous “eeeeuuuuus” and “ooooos,” were not included]. He hummed the most on “In My Dreams (Cudder Anthem),” with four hums, and the longest hum lasted for five seconds on “My World.” Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
HUMMING THROUGHOUT CUDI’S DISCOGRAPHY
Kid Cudi’s humming totals on MOTM were a little lower than we expected, so we had to find out how they compared to the rest of his discography. This is serious, important work, so we locked our data analyst in a room for two days and he hand-counted all the hums. Here’s what we learned: Cudi’s discography includes 1,255 distinct hums, for a total of 27 minutes and 49 seconds of humming, and 61.3 percent of his songs feature hums. Taking a step back and looking at Cudi’s discography as a whole, an upwards trend develops from 2008’s A Kid Named Cudi (one hum) to Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’ (473 hums), followed by a regression on his seven-song Kanye West collaborative project, Kids See Ghosts (77 hums). That’s a lot of fuckin’ humming.
Kid Cudi has more than one speed. On songs like the Emile Haynie-produced “Cudi Zone,” he spits blazingly fast, uttering an impressive 253 words per minute on the first verse. But sometimes he slows things way down, stretching his words out for effect on sleepy loner anthems like “Solo Dolo (Nightmare),” in which he only raps 12 words per minute on the fourth verse. Kid Cudi’s average speed on verses throughout the album? 165 words per minute.
In its opening week, MOTM moved 104,000 units and debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album never climbed to No. 1, but it did spend 114 weeks on the chart, and is now two-times platinum-certified. Three of the songs appeared on the Billboard Hot 100, led by lead single “Day ‘N’ Nite,” which peaked at No. 3 and spent 27 weeks on the chart, while “Make Her Say” peaked at No. 43 and remained on the chart for 15 weeks. Later, “Pursuit of Happiness” spent three weeks on the chart and peaked at No. 59. Five songs on MOTM have received platinum certifications: “Day ‘N’ Nite (Nightmare)” (five times), “Pursuit of Happiness” (five times), “Soundtrack 2 My Life” (two times), “Make Her Say” (one time), and "Up Up & Away" (one time).
Every artist has certain words they lean on heavily in each era of their career. So when Kid Cudi was recording MOTM, what was his favorite? The answer is “up,” which he said 105 times (most often on the song “Up Up & Away”). This was followed closely by “no” (102 times) and “yeah” (66 times). Unsurprisingly, the most prominent words in his breakout hit “Day ‘N’ Nite (Nightmare)” round out the top five, with 42 instances each. [For the purposes of this analysis, we excluded common articles and pronouns like I, the, a, you, and me.]
A major reason why MOTM resonated with so many listeners was Kid Cudi’s honest depictions of his struggle with depression (46 lines). Tackling mental health issues head on, he raps most about loneliness (84 lines), existential pain (51 lines), and anxiety (29 lines). His most common way of dealing with these issues is by turning to drugs (200 lines). Common clarifies Cudi’s relationship with drugs on “Enter Galactic” as he narrates, “Soon after falling into a deeper psychedelic state to escape the prison of our reality, our hero becomes trapped in his own peaceful place, which immediately becomes his sanctuary—a place filled with his wildest dreams. This is his new home.”
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
At the beginning of his career, Kid Cudi was asking a lot of questions, and he didn’t have many answers. Throughout MOTM, he asks a total of 35 questions, but only provides 11 answers, which makes sense for a 25-year-old rapper who was struggling with finding his place in the world. He asks the most questions on “Solo Dolo (Nightmare),” wondering things like, “Why must it feel so wrong when I try and do right?” Unfortunately, the song doesn’t feature any answers for the moon man.
All data compiled and analyzed by Ben Carter of @HipHopNumbers.