Classic Relisten: A Kid Named Cudi by Kid Cudi
It sounds strange to say that a mixtape can be a classic regardless of whether or not its quality merits that title. I’m speaking of course of influence and given a thorough re-evaluation of the mixtape that made Cudi a household name…it becomes apparent what this project kicked off.
It was Drake on his Take Care album who first admitted that working with the negatives can make for better pictures but Cudi was the experimental forefather of that. Every track on A Kid Named Cudi reeks of depression from the first track Down & Out to the lead single Day N Nite, where lonely stoner becomes his mantra and sadness makes music seem more important. If two stars put out pop records of equal merit but one is sad, that one is always regarded as the more clever or poignant (lookin’ at you Pink Floyd). If you turn on your hip hop radio station its infested with terribly sad songs about drug abuse and depression masked with half singing half rapping over thick arresting production. That’s exactly what Cudi started.
Cudi is the opposite of the Silver Age MC; terrible freestyler, anti-tough, less than average rapper, and no desire to out-rap anyone. Can you imagine him battling? His weakest tracks are songs like Cudi Get where he just paints by numbers in disingenuous references to the murder of MLK and whatever else he thinks a hip hop audience expects him to say. No one’s ever rewound a track to hear a Cudi line and he’s not trying to mask that, he’s just faking a dress code to get in the door. His sensibilities are in the melody and not like Juvenile who could make everything seem like a hook. Cudi’s love of hooks creates masterpiece songs like Man On The Moon (The Anthem) where one hook gets layered on top of another. You can’t underestimate the effect Cudi had on the direction of Kanye’s music. How could 808’s & Heartbreaks have happened without Cudi in his ear?
Plain Pat, Emile, and Dot Da Genius handle the production knowing full well that the production needs on A Kid Named Cudi are totally different from other projects. Guitar samples crash distinctly, bass lines pulsate but these may sound more like tracks for Rihanna than a rap artist; That’s the era we are in and it all comes back to Cudi who did it first. To the credit of all involved this is exactly the sound that was needed; I remember friends who hated this mixtape and others who just shrugged and said “this guy should write for Beyonce”
The division between old school and new school was drawn as sharply as possible along the lines of Cudi’s sing-a-long bleeding heart on The Prayer or badly broken brag flow on Save My Soul (The Cudi Confession). I still go back to it and bounce like a fool to Embrace The Martian. For the keep it real crowd this tape is as real as it gets, he really was racked with depression and screwed up on drugs. I never cared about that though, for me it’s as simple as getting taken over by how catchy the highpoints are. The haggling over what is real hip hop dies down eventually and the music sticks. If you’re looking for music that sticks let A Kid Named Cudi be your peanut butter.
Stream or download A Kid Named Cudi below: