Kid Cudi

Eclipsing the Record Industry’s Preconceptions

Scott “Kid” Mescudi’s music doesn’t really fit the profile of rap, at least not in the most common sense of the word, and one should hesitate before simplifying his sound by calling it that. Then again trying to place it into some type of “post-genre genre” that doesn’t even really exist just to have something else to call it, would be lame, so it would probably be best not to use any of those bullshit phrases (think “indie hip hop”) and just put it bluntly: Kid Cudi makes rad, unique music, and a lot of people really like it.

One can see how it might be easy to call him a rapper though, as the dude definitely has flows. For the hip-hop purists: a remix of A Tribe Called Quest’s early ‘90s classic “Buggin’ Out,” featuring veteran mc Consequence, on which Cudi describes his arrival matter-of-factly, casually spitting: “A few new stations put me in rotation, they’ve embraced the martian…congratulations.”

And for the club kids: “Day n Nite,” an introspective, stripped down hit, that put the Cleveland-born artist’s name on countless iPods worldwide, and gave many people their first taste of the soft-spoken flow he would become best known for. Cudi appears equally comfortable putting his touch on both the classic and contemporary sides of rap, but this is only a part of the aforementioned sound that he has developed. On some of the more personal tracks he’s released so far, Cudi sings to his growing audience in a gentle tone that compliments his humble nature, while at the same time reflecting a deserved level of confidence in the fact that he knows the music he’s making is dope.

Before “Day n Nite” was banging from the stereo of every passing car, and the inherent industry madness that followed, Cudi was touring small clubs across the United States with the legendary electro collective Fool’s Gold.

A far stretch from the massive venues that would eventually become a part of his reality, Cudi recognizes the impact these shows had on his audience, and himself. “I really, really miss those shows. They were really intimate, and you knew the cheers in the crowd were genuine,” he says.

Helmed by heavyweight DJs A-Track and Nick Catchdubs, the Fool’s Gold shows were a way for the young artist to connect with a new group of listeners without any preconceptions or caveats. “When I would do those shows and those kids showed me love, it was because they were really digging it. They had no other reason, I wasn’t famous,” he says. “We were just these guys that did music, and we went out and had fucking fun.”

This does a lot to explain the healthy way Cudi began his career, and the way he plans to continue it. He says, “The more famous you get, you’re supposed to be more and more untouchable, but I want to still be in tune with how I started out, how the roots were laid down.”

Having linked up with his managers and co-producers Plain Pat and Emile, who have earned a strong reputation in the industry both respectively and collectively, as well as rising Brooklyn producer Dot Da Genius, Kid Cudi has actually outgrown genre specific classification in a way that not many musicians have at such an early stage in their careers.

His soon to be released debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of Days, promises to keep him perched above the typical fences that are built around musicians by critics, fans and industry tastemakers when trying to experiment with new sounds.

For Cudi, Man on the Moon, marks the culmination of un-known numbers of hours spent working in the studio. “This album has been in the works for some years through trial and error… just trying to find my sound. Every time I recorded, when I started my career, it was for an album. Every song I’ve recorded since then has been for my debut album. So I’ve been working on this thing for a while,” he says.

He explains that the tracks on the album were carefully chosen from the past years of work: “I mean, a lot of stuff won’t make the album. We have so much good stuff…but it has to fit the story line.”

Cudi has taken the time to build a concept, a script and create a piece of audible cinema. “I want it to feel like you’re watching a movie with your eyes closed…just in terms of the feeling behind each song, the production, and the mood…track by track, each song is a scene,” he says.

These scenes, which have been arranged into five acts, tell a story that Cudi has experienced on both conscious and subconscious levels. He explains, “The whole album is like me falling asleep…and you’re basically dreaming with me throughout the whole album.”

One particularly cerebral song, “Mr. Solo Dolo,” has made its way into the hands of an already eager fan base a bit earlier than Cudi may have anticipated. However, he is realistic about the issue of material leaking early and looks for a silver lining, making a point of recognizing the bigger picture.

“People hearing Solo Dolo [before it’s official release] is really great because it’s one of the more risky and more experimental songs on the album,” he says.

This outlook gives insight into the way Cudi approaches his craft, and perhaps plays a part in the creative process he applies to every song that he records. He seems concerned most deeply with the quality of the music and the impact it has on his listeners and himself, understanding that the industry is a little different these days, and at the same time embracing the fact that he’s a little different from the industry.

– Omar Almufti