At the beginning of the year, rapper Kid Cudi threatened to quit the music industry.
Cudi wrote on his blog, The drama that comes with it is more overwhelming than the s--t I was dealing with when I was p--s-poor broke. He says he felt pressured to top the success of his introductory single, Day N Nite, which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- and the expectations weren't helped by reports of a beef with fellow rapper and labelmate Consequence.
But times have changed. On the eve of the release of his debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, due September 15 on G.O.O.D./Universal Motown, Cudi, born Scott Mescudi in Cleveland, has made peace with his situation by putting his frustrations down on vinyl.
Early on, before I even had a deal, before s--t was poppin' for me, I felt some pressure, Cudi says. But after people started responding to my mixtape, it made me more confident. When you see you have people supporting you, it makes you comfortable. Fans really helped me open up a lot more than I thought -- they are who really gave me the confidence to do what I do. I could've just made another 'Day N Nite,' but they gave me the confidence to tell my story instead.
With the help of producers Plain Pat, Ratatat, Kanye West and Emile and collaborators like Ratatat, West, Common, Chip the Ripper, Billy Cravens and MGMT, Cudi takes his listeners through a dark, ambitious, self-reflective 15-track set -- divided into acts and narrated as dreams and nightmares -- revealing his deepest fears, hopes and dreams.
I really wanted creative records. I knew what I was looking for when I listen to beats. I knew what I needed and how many tracks I needed just like that, Cudi says of the album. I went off instinct a lot, which made it easier for me to put together. This album wasn't hard at all.
His storytelling ability is highlighted on tracks like Heart of a Lion (Kid Cudi Theme Music), which finds him rhyming, At the end of the day, my momma told me/'Don't let no one break me,' over drums and synthesizers.
Cudi recently wrapped the Great Hangover tour with Asher Roth and is slated to start filming the HBO show How to Make It in America, executive-produced by Mark Wahlberg (Entourage). He also is involved with Activision's upcoming DJ Hero videogame.
Yet with fame comes not only drama, as Cudi says, but comparisons. So far, Man on the Moon has been compared to West's 808s and Heartbreak, while Cudi has been likened to West and another newcomer and labelmate, Drake.
But Cudi takes the assessments in stride, calling them a compliment. He says, To be in the same category with great people of great talent is amazing. But, my mission statement is to change things and make s--t better. I want to make music that inspires motherf---ers to feel like they are me, that they can do what they want if they believe in themselves. I don't know another artist that makes music with that type of motivation.