I’m a Kid Cudi fan. In fact, to know me and speak to me about music, you will likely hear me say, at some point during our musical relationship, that Kid Cudi is the best accessory artist in music. In fact, I contend that ALL songs are made better by the addition of Kid Cudi or Chris Brown. If you take a perfect song, like "A Change Gon' Come" and let Cudi do his thing on, it would only become more perfecter. In fact, if you were to add Kid Cudi AND Chris Brown to your record, I believe the record will be guaranteed to be peak awesome.
I think this is backed up by facts. Every single song that Cudi has featured on has been elevated by his presence. There’s a reason that Kanye has kept him close musically even though he’s not been a G.O.O.D. Music artist for quite some time. His singing voice adds so much flavor. Consider “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1”. The part of the song feaurting Cudders (the first minute) is the best part of the song. Same with “All Of The Lights” and his end of song runs. Or Jay-Z’s “Home” or, well you get the point. Every song that Kanye has that features Cudi is made better by his presence. He’s not the best rapper, but even his verses work well on his features.
His solo work is a different beast. I absolutely love Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. But Cudi is one of those artists whose talent doesn’t exactly equal his ambition. Even as a big fan, I try to be honest with myself about this. His entire discography, including the WZRD project are perfect examples of this dichotomy. He has good ideas, but the execution sometimes falls short of seeing them through. If Cudi could max his ambition out, he might be considered one of the greatest artists of the decade. He’d basically be Kanye West. And he's trying so I'm waiting for him to pull it off. The thing is, I appreciate the hell out of his ideas. I want Cudi to win because when he succeeds with an idea, the shit is usually so riveting that I need more and I need other people to understand how awesome he is. MOTMII is the reason I believe in him. There are pieces of that album that are nothing short of pure brilliance. He is a man whose mind clearly gets pulled in various directions.
As of late, Cudi has been in the news for a series of tweets aimed at Drake and Kanye that alluded to a beef of sorts. Apparently it was all ironed out, as it should be. There is no benefit to Cudi and Kanye not being collaboratively in sync, at least. And Kanye isn’t crazy, he knows what value Cudi brings to the table. Not for nothing, I give Cudi all of the credit for Kanye’s transition into 808s and Heartbreaks. Basically, Cudi, to me, is responsible for the music that is responsible for hip-hop today.
Think about that.
Sadly, Cudi reported via a Facebook update that he is checking himself into rehab because he’s had suicidal urges and tendencies. I only say that it is sad because he is having them. I’m actually proud of him for realizing that he is a man who needs help and doing something about it before doing something to hurt himself and the people who love him. He is a father, a son, a friend, an artist who has made the world a better place with his musings. I think it's great he's taking those steps because rehab is nothing to be ashamed of. Not when it can make you a better person and more mentally sound and able to deal with yourself.
I can’t say enough about what it means to make sure that you are mentally sound. I feel like the stigma towards therapy is being lifted, slowly, as more and more people attempt to deal with the hardships of life and realizing that it’s not easy to do alone. I know that first hand. I went to therapy for a time because I was dealing with several issues in life and running into a wall every direction I turned. It was affecting me as a person and definitely affecting the relationship I was in, romantically. That relationship didn’t survive, but lessons I learned and discussions I had remain constants in my mind, even to this day. Also, I never felt ashamed about it. In a way, I was almost happy and maybe even proud to tell people that I was seeing a therapist. Feeling positively about it made me feel like it could help other people do the same.
I’m proud that Cudi took these steps to help him get to wherever he’s trying to be as a human. We tend to view artists as people who have it all even though so many exhibit signs of pain and suffering. Are you doing all the drugs because you have access or because you’re trying to mute some pain or struggle? Also, I can’t imagine being in the limelight the way many of our celebrities are. We talk about them and write them off as being above noticing our shade, but what if they are reading? What if they do care? What if the opinions of people they don’t know matter? It’s easy to say they shouldn’t, but consider that artists, especially musicians, tend to offer a bit of themselves via their music.
What happens when everybody thinks that part of you is trash? I’m not saying that people shouldn’t continue to be critical of art; as far as I’m concerned, if you put something out for public consumption, you are giving permission for it to be tarred and feathered. Every single article I’ve written, I’ve always prepared myself for the potential that it might be ill-received. Personally, I sometimes enjoy when folks come for me. But I’m also from the 50 Cent School of Beef: there is no beef too big or too small to entertain. I’m built for it. Everybody isn’t. Some people absolutely cannot take criticism or, worse, negativity sent their way. And too much negativity can tailspin you.
I’m rambling a bit as I don’t know what exactly led him to where he is now. He said he’s not at peace. I’ve been there, but I also don’t know what its like to not have peace and you have to read about yourself in true and false fashion on tabloids and websites all day. You can’t just exist if you want to. Sure, it’s the price of celebrity, but what a price to pay. And for somebody who has had a bit of a tumultuous career since hitting the scene, filled with tremendous highs and seemingly cavernous lows, I imagine that search for peace is similarly treacherous. He said depression and anxiety have ruled his life. I imagine that for many a person in that space, the only way to stop the pain is to not have to worry about it any longer.
I’m glad that Cudi decided to try to get help for himself and for his family but also for the selfish reason of not wanting an artist I love to rob the world of his art. I wasn't even alive when Donny Hathaway committed suicide and I'm still upset about it. I'm still upset about Phyllis Hyman. And I fear the days of reading more articles about young artist’s lives ending too soon because of personal demons they weren’t able to overcome.
It is for that reason that I appreciate the constant messages I see on Facebook (from people like Alex Hardy) or in my own text messages (that I also send) telling people to check on other folks or sending a simple, “How are you doing? And I really want to know.” text. You really never know what people are going through and I HATE it when I find out too late that somebody’s life has come to an end. Maybe I’m not the one to help. That’s okay, but there has to be somebody. I have family members who dealt with depression and are on medication for it. I know people who have attempted suicide and failed, thankfully. Life is too precious; somebody has to be there.
For Kid Cudi, I hope he comes out better than he went in. For everybody else going through something that seems a heavier burden than you can handle:
How are you doing?
No, really. How are you doing?