A new album, a new Netflix series, the man on the moon is descending on a second career chapter focused on larger scale creative direction.
Boardroom’s Ian Stonebrook additionally contributed to this story.
Kid Cudi is done with Kid Cudi.
When the artist born Scott Mescudi dropped Entergalactic — his eighth studio album and also the title of his accompanying Netflix series — he spoke to Zane Lowe about his desire to “close the chapter” on Kid Cudi.
Whether that sentiment proves true in the long run, it’s bittersweet at the moment. For many fans, phase two of Kid Cudi’s climb back to the top feels midstride.
Since 2018’s collaborative Kids See Ghosts, Cudi’s remained a fixture of the public eye, beloved by fans and admired again by the media. In 2020, Cudi’s seventh studio album, Man on the Moon III: The Chosen, threaded the needle for early enthusiasts and late adopters, proving his first certified gold album in seven years.
This year alone, he’s re-released his debut mixtape, put out a greatest hits compilation, and hosted his own music festival.
All the energy culminated with September 2022’s Entergalactic.
The concept album casts Cudi in the same sonic starring role he’s occupied before, headlining perhaps his most anticipated project since his daring debut. Written in unison with its theatric counterpart, the surreal street art series appears to be less about music marketing and more momentum for his next career act.
America, meet creative director Scott Mescudi.
Does What He Wants
Since his ’08 arrival, Cudi has always moved to the beat of his own drum. Whether rapping over Ratatat guitar riffs or fleeing from pop stardom in pursuit of artistic honesty, Scott Mescudi has always called the shots on what Scott Mescudi does.
With the release of Entergalactic the album, it’s clear Cudi is cultivating a world bigger than just him. While he’s always been a voice for the sad and lonely, much of his most personal yet panned work came from going at it alone.
Capable of rapping, writing, singing, and producing, the new project finds the 38-year-old multihyphenate hiring longtime collaborators and young song scribes for a fuller, finished product.
Make no mistake, Scott isn’t phoning in the music nor is it any less his sound. Rather, he’s taking on formal roles of vocalist and executive producer in a style that mirrors his box-office aspirations.
Case in point? These lyrics from the second verse of the album’s first single.
Feel like writin’ a movie, yeah, that shit would be groovy
Anything that I want, anything that would move me
Entergalactic‘s aforementioned “Do What I Want” not only nods and winks at Scott’s next step in sound, it lives it in practice.
Penned and produced in part by Cudi and his longtime musical partner Dot Da Genius, the leadoff look receives writing from the young and talented Levi Carter as well as an audio assist from Take a Daytrip — the duo behind “Mo Bamba,” “Industry Baby,” and “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).”
While Cudi’s proved capable of making an album almost entirely on his own in the past, his ability to direct others in favor of something bigger and more transcendent is not only mature, it’s necessary when considering his previewed pivot.
Learning to Trust
Cudi isn’t done dropping songs, he’s just done making traditional albums.
“I’ve made a lot of music, man,” Cudi told Lowe. “I have other desires, I have other things I want to do.”
Enter the visual companion to Entergalactic, his Netflix series of the same name.
Already earning a 93% score on Rotten Tomatoes, Cudi’s creative appetite is all about new mediums and bigger, broader ideas. While he’s stayed busy on the acting front from HBO’s How to Make it in America back in 2010 all the way up to Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up in 2021, pivoting to the producer role and director’s seat sees increased ambition.
“I just want to focus on Mad Solar Productions,” Cudi told Lowe.
Founded in 2020, the production company came to fruition with Entergalactic serving as one of its first official projects. If the album of the same title was a case study in working with others, it’s merely a means to master a more complex game.
In music, Cudi is proven and proficient, able to do it all on his own but ready to delegate duties to make something more massive. When transitioning to TV and film production, the cast of characters responsible for making it all come together on screen and behind the scenes is an even grander creative trust fall.
By being able to ideate a big vision and place the right personnel to make it happen, Cudi is learning to trust other talents in artistic relationships the same way he sings about opening up in romantic situations.
So far, so good.
“I really feel like this is as collaborative a process as I’ve ever been part of,” Entergalactic executive producer Kenya Barris told Forbes. Famous for his work on Black-ish, the revered writer was able to leverage his own Netflix deal to help Cudi’s cartoon come to life.
Already assisted by Barris and Ti West on theatric endeavors, Cudi has landed help from some of the best in the business. Moreover, the production company provides the ability to learn the ropes of finding funding and building blockbusters.
Hollywood heavyweights like Mark Wahlberg and Adam Sandler have made the same transition from front and center to behind the scenes. The business end is compelling, but it’s still the creative ambition that makes it go. Always amid friends when acting, taking on the producer title in film allows him to collaborate in new ways on new canvases.
Already 10 albums in with almost as many accompanying tours, this new challenge and new pace provide the ability to age gracefully and master new crafts. While cinema is high on the list, it’s not alone.
“I got my clothing line that’s debuting in January in Paris during Fashion Week,” Cudi continued to Lowe. “I got those two things I’m really focused on and just designing and writing. That’s where I see myself headed.”
When it comes to multitasking, Cudi isn’t new to this. For fans, adjusting to his new pursuits may take some time.
If early results are any indication, it will be well worth it.
Kid Cudi is a performer.
Scott Mescudi is an artist, father, producer, designer, creative director, and businessman.
Transitioning titles and personas may be coming to a head right at the perfect time.
Early on, first week numbers for Entergalactic the album appear underwhelming. While critical reviews impress, the slow sales may speak more to an industry in disarray as opposed to a subpar product.
As a producer in television, fashion, and more, Mescudi has the ability to pursue bigger bags without having to live life on the road. This is not only awesome for his business and creative growth, but it’s also great for his family.
“I really want to spend more time with my daughter,” he told Lowe. “We’ve been kicking it a lot lately and I’ve been having more time. It’s good. She’s growing up, our relationship is super tight. It’s what I always dreamed of.”
Pursuing a new path professionally also aligns with other subplots personally.
Warring with former friend Ye and mourning the passing of his creative collaborator Virgil Abloh, the man named Scott Mescudi is putting his rock star ego behind him in favor of freedom and family. Veering toward Virgil in interests and approaches, the future is now a wider world filled with more imaginative mediums.
In 2022, it’s about Kid Cudi morphing into Scott Mescudi.
A father first, an artist second, he’s more than just a musician and perhaps past that chapter. As Entergalactic segues his career into its next act, perhaps the album was the familiar flare needed to signal phase two of his illustrious endeavors.
Perhaps it’s the parting shot to warn the world he’s got his eyes on being the real deal in cinema production.
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