Devoted fans of rapper Kid Cudi have been patiently awaiting his upcoming album “Entergalactic” since it was first announced in 2019 — and when its official release date was revealed via Twitter on June 15. But most were shocked and saddened when he announced that this would likely mark his retirement. On Zane Lowe’s radio show, “New Music Daily,” Kid Cudi discussed his desire to finally move away from his musical career and toward other creative endeavors, such as acting, directing and animation.

“I think I’m closing the chapter on Kid Cudi,” Kid Cudi said. “I’ve just made a lot of music and, you know, I have other desires, I have other things I want to do.”

With this announcement, many have altered their perspective on the significance of his latest release.

More than just the 10th addition to an already esteemed and cherished discography, “Entergalactic” represents a fitting conclusion that highlights the immense progress he has made as both a musician and a human being. Written by an artist whose earlier work consisted of melancholic instrumentation addressing his struggles with depression, suicidal thoughts, heartbreak and feeling like an outcast, “Entergalactic” is a more joyous and uplifting tale — of a man who has found a woman to whom he is ready to offer his sincere love. Accompanied by an original animated Netflix series of the same name, Kid Cudi’s newest album creates a vivid atmosphere of all of the euphoric imagery, sounds and emotions that one experiences on the journey from first laying eyes upon the love of their life to realizing that they are in fact their missing piece.

Given that the album and animated series were released as a package on Sept. 30, many fans were apprehensive about the possibility that “Entergalactic” would feel more like a soundtrack than a typical studio album. This worry was accentuated when the album cover was unveiled, as not only was it designed with the same animation style and depicted the show’s two main characters, but the words “Season One” appeared directly below the title. After watching the series and experiencing how heavily intertwined the songs are with their essential plot points, it is indeed difficult to subsequently listen to the album and completely separate the two. However, while “Entergalactic” does feel like a soundtrack at times, it is more like Kendrick Lamar’s “Black Panther” soundtrack, which can be listened to and appreciated as a concise and dynamic album in its own right.

As a follow-up to the final installment in Kid Cudi’s “Man On The Moon” trilogy, “Entergalactic” makes a drastic shift in both overall sound and subject matter. With “Man on the Moon III: The Chosen’s” somber production and introspective lyrics that discussed his ongoing internal battles, it can now be seen as the closing chapter to a life that Kid Cudi has started to leave behind. “Entergalactic” opens the door into a world of acceptance, finding inner peace and laying under the stars with the woman he loves. This message is conveyed almost instantaneously, as Kid Cudi’s opening lines to the project on “New Mode” are, “Finally got my head right, it’s a new me / It’s like I got heaven in my sights now, beauty I see.” This standout first track welcomes us back with 45 seconds of his signature hums, followed by an upbeat instrumental, one of the catchier hooks on the album, and a preview into the overarching themes.

While the first two songs give insight into the free, reinvented state of mind that Kid Cudi has entered, his muse for the album is introduced in the interlude “Angel.” Over a stripped-back, spacey chord progression, this track is an intimate serenade that showcases his newfound admiration. It encapsulates the blissful and exhilarating feeling of having someone unexpectedly stumble into your life who possesses everything that you have been searching for.

The sixth track, “In Love,” offers Kid Cudi’s most daring and expressive singing on the project over a layered, transcendent instrumental. Building up tension with only a simple synth arpeggio for the first minute of the song, it explodes into a burst of life, with hard-hitting drums, hypnotizing synths and a background of majestic hums. However, despite this being one of the album’s highlights, it contains one of its biggest flaws as well. While Kid Cudi has never been known as a lyricist who will blow you away with double entendres and wordplay, “Entergalactic” is at times particularly weak even by his standards. He begins the first verse of “In Love” with the lines, “Never have I seen someone so pretty wow / it’s pretty wild, crazy.” Moments like these feel more like uncreative placeholders, rather than a thoughtful, deep dive into his true emotions. Luckily for Kid Cudi, addicting melodies, imaginative production and a soothing, warm atmosphere become the focus of most tracks and distract from these weaker points.

“Entergalactic’s” halfway point, “Willing To Trust,” is undoubtedly the album’s pinnacle. Everything that Kid Cudi wished to accomplish on this project is bottled up into this masterpiece of a song, one of the best tracks released by any artist this year. With its reflective and relatable story, the breathtakingly crisp and dynamic vocals from him and Ty Dolla $ign and the album’s most polished and memorable chorus, “Willing to Trust” has all you hope to experience with a Kid Cudi song.

While there are standout moments from the album’s first half, the second half proves to be more consistent through an impeccable five-song run, from “Maybe So” to “Somewhere To Fly.” If there were only two words to describe each of these five tracks, they would be “tranquility” and “coziness.” Sonically, their airy and hypnotic ambiance provides the listener with a tangible feeling of warmth, creating a peaceful atmosphere for one to clear their mind. They contain simple declarations of true love, but are accompanied by heavily detailed production filled with spacey synths, guitars and violins. Although lyrically Kid Cudi may have run out of things to say or ways to say them, his attention to detail from a production standpoint is as strong as ever, a trait that cemented him as one of the most innovative voices in music.

On the melodramatic “Sept. 16” track from “Man on the Moon III: The Chosen,” Kid Cudi wistfully sings, “No I can’t forget her at all, haunting me / And I’m wishing you were mine, all for me.” This is not the same Kid Cudi that we hear on “Entergalactic.” Throughout his newest release, Kid Cudi moves on from discussing his past trauma and lets go of failed relationships that once prevented him from opening himself up to new love. In the final track of the album, “Somewhere To Fly,” featuring his protege’s protege Don Toliver, Kid Cudi passionately sings, “She lives free in my mind / She’s my sunset sublime … You free me, me, me.” As he has met the love of his life, “Entergalactic” showcases a Kid Cudi who is complete, at peace and truly happy. For over a decade, Kid Cudi’s music gave hope to millions of listeners by showing that even a globally-known, Grammy-winning musician was stuck in the same depressed and lost state as they were. On this final album, he offers one last story to inspire his loyal fan base. Kid Cudi has completed an arduous journey, persevering through years of inner torment to reach a life surrounded by true love and a future of happiness and fulfillment.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars