Solo Dolo from 2009 to 2021.
Last weekend Kid Cudi released a music video for Solo Dolo Pt. III, a song off of his most recent album Man On The Moon III: The Chosen. Being that it is the third iteration of the Solo Dolo series, we wanted to highlight the differences between the songs and what they show us from Cudi as an artist through time.
Solo Dolo – 2009 – Man On the Moon
Slow and methodical with an almost creepy feel to it, the original Solo Dolo record was released in 2009 on Kid Cudi’s critically acclaimed album Man on the Moon: The End of the Day. Its signature sound is a haunting sample of “The Traitor” by Menahan Street Band that serves as the foundation for the song.
The original Solo Dolo is one of Cudi’s quintessential “nightmare tracks” on Man On the Moon. If you take a look at the tracklist of Man On the Moon – there are four songs with the word “nightmare” in parenthesis next to the track title. Solo Dolo is the first nightmare song, then Day N’ Nite, Alive, and Pursuit of Happiness. Fans argue about the significance of the “nightmare” labeling, my interpretation is that Man On the Moon is a concept album using the idea of dreams and nightmares as a literal and artistic device to explain life. The nightmare songs all have ominous beginning tones and slower tempos than other songs on the album like Make Her Say or Up Up & Away.
Lyrics to this rendition of Solo Dolo are best summed up by its opening lyrics – “Listen good, I don’t have nobody.” This is a song about accepting and living in loneliness, rather than sulking about loneliness Cudi decided to embrace it – dubbing himself “Mr. Solo Dolo.”
Solo Dolo II (feat Kendrick Lamar) – 2013 – Indicud
The second iteration of Solo Dolo features an almost Odd Future style bass in the background which provides a robust yet chaotic sound. Kid Cudi is not Solo Dolo on this track. Cudder showcases his rap ability on Solo Dolo Part II, alongside Kendrick Lamar who was fresh off of Good Kid, M.A.A.D City when this song was released.
Solo Dolo Part II was a part of Cudi’s 2013 album Indicud. This is definitely the odd man out of the Solo Dolo series, it’s about the flip side of Mr. Solo Dolo. Cudi explains that he’s an “oxymoron when I open my mouth” – the song starts with him singing the lyrics “I don’t need nobody,” then spirals into Cudi rapping about his friends – Ratatat, MGMT, and King Chip before throwing to Kendrick Lamar to end the song.
If anything this song is an expression of what it’s like to be an “extroverted introvert” or to have anxiety. Mental health has always been an overt and symbolic topic in Cudi’s music – Solo Dolo Part II is the manic brother to the depressed original Solo Dolo.
Solo Dolo III – 2020 – Man On The Moon III: The Chosen
Solo Dolo Pt. III is much more like the original song than the second iteration. It’s certainly the most finely-tuned of the three. Solo Dolo Pt. III has a distinctly cinematic sound, which is presumably why Kid Cudi produced a visual for it.
This take on Solo Dolo is thematically a combination of the last two versions – it addresses the manic and depressive, the dreams and nightmares. “Deep in the hell, in dark corners. Deep in my dreams perceived now,” Cudi sings. He addresses the “many nights I spent gettin’ fucked up, livin’ a lie,” as well as the “dark corners.”
These three songs tell a story of Cudi through his career. The first Solo Dolo was an exploration of loneliness, the second was an expression of madness, and the third was a blending of the two. Maybe in 2025 or so – we’ll get a Solo Dolo Pt. IV.