Up Up & Away
Label: Kid Cudi/Universal Records
Having staked out lonely-stoner territory in his smash "Day 'n' Nite" and on Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak, this Ohio alt-rhymer carries emo-rap to heretofore unimagined introspective extremes on his debut. He samples Lady Gaga, channels P.M. Dawn, references Jamie Foxx, Wyclef and Jay-Z, and accepts help from Kanye, Common and NYC indie synth duos MGMT and Ratatat. But mainly he escapes earthly problems -- girls, first and foremost -- by floating "up, up and away" to the moon on a pot-haze balloon of minor-key electronics. And he prays the sky doesn't fall for his trouble.