Re-visiting Kid Cudi’s genre-defying, generation-defining major label debut
In an era when hip-hop was in dire need of innovation, Kid Cudi’s major label debut arrived right on time. Presenting a unique soundscape, blending elements of hip-hop, indie rock, psychedelia, and electronica, Cudi released an album that was both genre and generation-defining.
In the late 2000s, hip hop was fully commercialized. Major labels were chasing high-charting hits that doubled as top-selling ringtones. Many of the genre’s active legends were either chasing a radio-friendly sound or failing to evolve at all. Man on the Moon challenged that, containing hit singles like “Day n’ Nite” and “Pursuit of Happiness” that were massively successful without sacrificing Cudi’s signature sound or watering down his content.
While those singles went platinum, the album’s biggest strength is its cohesiveness from intro to outro. The album’s opener, “In My Dreams (Cudder Anthem)” is a hazy, mellow introduction that plays like the opening scene to a movie – complete with narration from legendary Chicago MC Common. This narration continues throughout the project, breaking up its five acts and guiding us through the cinematic story of the Man on the Moon.
The story is one of Scott Mescudi, an outcast dealing with suicidal thoughts, drug abuse, relationships, and an overwhelming feeling of loneliness. Throughout the entirety of the album’s runtime, Cudi displays a refreshing honesty and vulnerability that was uncommon in a genre that was well-known for its bravado. It was a breath of fresh air, and its impact is still being felt to this day.
Trial Track: Soundtrack 2 My Life
Star Bar: “Ignorance to cope, man, ignorance is bliss / Ignorance is love and I need that sh*t” (Cudi on “Soundtrack 2 My Life”)