Cudi Isn’t Kiddin’


Kid Cudi is mainstream hip hop’s next potential savior.

Ok, let me step back and add a preface — I’m a twenty-two year old, white & nerdy (-6 points for the Weird Al reference) suburbanite who grew up listening to metal and drumming in a prog-metal band. With that being said, I truly believe that Kid Cudi is going to be next great, worthwhile hip hop act.

“Well, Pepsibones, what makes you think that?”

Well, three key points (which, for my sake, can be conveniently listed) stand out:

1) Exposure — This dude is getting pushed hardcore. As I said, I generally keep my ear turned to the harder hitting scenes/bands. And yet, I can’t help but hear about the sickness that is Kid Cudi. Between the Day’n’Nite single receiving continuous (or is that incessant?) radio play and features such as that in last month’s Spin, Cudi seems to be sneaking into the (pop) cultural consciousness. I mean, fuck, when I loaded up OL today the guy popped into the banner at the top and said hello to me.

In short, Kid Cudi is getting the media push needed to help hip hop. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m sure there are plenty of better (whatever that means) underground rappers — but without the exposure their words aren’t going to reach the masses. While I might have hoped for last year’s Esoteric vs. Japan: Pterodactyl Takes Tokyo! to have received more attention, I wasn’t surprised when it didn’t blow up and change the game; the exposure just wasn’t there. With Kid Cudi, it is.

2) Stylistic Plurality — When I subject myself to the radio or MTV, I usually find myself balking like the old man on the block, “Bah! All this rubbish sounds the same!” In the era of five-second ringtone hooks and a reliance on autotuner that makes Kirk Hammett’s wah-pedal use look like occasional experimentation, anything that breaks the mold is greatly appreciated. Not only does Kid Cudi bring a different, more earnest perspective, he presents it a number of different ways.

The A Kid Named Cudi mixtape features mellow, introspective numbers like 50 Ways to Make a Record & Man on the Moon (which shares its name with Cudi’s full-length), the danceable stoner’s love song that is Maui Wowie, a couple of more freestyle-feeling showcases such as Cudi Spazzin’, and hometown anthem Cleveland is the Reason (it is shocking that I’ve yet to see this track supporting a montage of King James dunks).

If Man on the Moon makes use of even half of the styles found on Cudi’s breakthrough mixtape, we’re all in for a treat. Again, between the exposure and success of Day’n’Nite, the people are already going to give his shit a chance — and when they see that he offers something for everyone, they’ll be hooked.

3) Inspiring Kanye to Stop Sucking – Up until November 2008, Kanye West was a hero of mine. In spite of the fact that he is one of the most arrogant pop culture figures of recent history, I couldn’t help but love the guy. Every interview and appearance found him talking all sorts of crazy shit, but I would just laugh it off, preferring to bob my head rather than shake it.

Maybe it was the fact that at his best, Kanye managed to truly inspire me to look past the preconceived paths laid before me and carve my own way through the brush of life.

[Good Morning]

Look at the valedictorian scared of the future

While I hop in the Delorean.

Scared-to-face-the-world complacent career student,

Some people graduate, but be still stupid.

They tell you read this, eat this, don’t look around…

For a time, even Kanye’s most heedless lyrics were awesome in their own ridiculous, hilarious way.

[New Workout Plan]

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and get them sit-ups right &
Tuck your tummy tight & do your crunches like this;
Give head, stop breathe, get up, check your weave
Don’t drop the blunt and disrespect the weed.

Yes, it’s hard to defend such songs as having any sort of deep literary merit, but they made me smile & laugh, and that certainly counts in my book.

But then Kanye broke up with a girl and lost his mind. Or something. The result: the dismal 808’s & Heartbreak which contains neither the mindful insights of personal empowerment nor humorous musings about girls and weed and drinking and all that other awesome shit. No, all that 808’s provides is autotuned ramblings about lamenting love.

[Coldest Winter]

Goodbye my friend will I ever love again?
Goodbye my friend will I ever love again?
Goodbye my friend will I ever love again?
Goodbye my friend will I ever love again?

Brilliant. And for those apologists that claim “It’s a heartfelt track about love!” I offer two counterpoints: 1) How heartfelt and raw can words be when processed until they sound like a robot? 2) Just because something is heartfelt doesn’t mean it’s any good.

But now we have Kid Cudi, carrying with him the inspiration to restore Kanye West to his former (admittedly arguable) greatness. Kanye enlisted Cudi to help him with 808’s & Heartbreak and the product was the slightly less reprehensible Welcome to Heartbreak. Since then, Kanye has dedicated himself to crafting tracks for Kid Cudi’s debut, including the reworking of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face into the much more overt lauding of oral sex that is Make Her Say. West even went as far as to contribute a verse, returning to his old jovial, fun-loving form in the process. Again, it may not be mentally dazzling, but even being entertaining is an improvement at this point.

Sure, the idea of Kid Cudi helping elevate Kanye back up to the plateau he once reached is wishful thinking. But even if this doesn’t become reality, Cudi’s good enough on his own to make a long lasting impression on the mainstream rap world that is, in my opinion, suffering from the fatigue of thematic repetition. Mark my words, Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon is going to be the relevant rap album of 2009.

That is, of course, until Lupe Fiasco puts out Lasers in December.