Moonmen (no MTV). Photo by Lauren Coleman
All eyes are on KiD CuDi. The New York rep by way of Cleveland, OH stormed through the city, like most out-of-towners do, in search of getting out his dreams. Today he does so, with the release of his debut album, Man On the Moon – The End of Day.
I had no choice but to notice Scott Mescudi in the summer of 2007. Underneath his mahogany-tint aviator sunglasses, he was the only person present who seemed blinded (hence the stunna shades, get it?) by the towering office of Complex magazine. There’s no denying, at the time even I took my surroundings for granted. Being on a first name basis with the mogul-next-door, Marc Ecko; so did my company on that eventful night. We gathered in the spacious room filled with unreleased footwear, clothing that had been tagged for photoshoots featuring prominent actors and musicians, all privy to the plateau on which Cudi now stands. Read below as I take you through a brief timeline of KiD CuDi’s ascension.
APRIL 2007, NYC.
Inside Manhattan’s SoHo 323, now converted into real estate.
Before Santos Party House, and Greenhouse, SoHo 323 (a.k.a. NoCa lounge) had New York nightlife in it’s grip. Here I deejayed alongside Roxy Cottontail, and DJ Neil Armstrong. When I headlined on nights like this one, KiD CuDi was a regular. After we met in June he asked me to work “Day ‘n’ Nite” into my sets. At about 1:30AM, the peak of where the mood is at it’s highest, I played the mp3 sent to me via MySpace correspondence with Cudi. Immediately his crew literally crowded in the space you see above, reciting every lyric to the monster smash. Cudi’s tenor tone still rings in the back of my mind to this day.
JANUARY 2008, NYC.
If you’ve ever seen any of KiD CuDi’s posters from this summer’s Great Hangover tour, they make any graphic designer step-up their flyer game. Maybe it’s because some of the photos are proportioned larger in width and length, than the small pixelated images created on evites. The point is, through the growth of Cudi’s fame, simply through a tangible object—like in this case— a Grateful Dead-inspired concert poster, the reality becomes more apparent that it is bigger than hip-hop.
Photo via GFC-NY
At last year’s Live Mechanics event, the diverse group of talent on the bill (including Mickey Factz, accompanied by Cool Kid Chuck Inglish, as his DJ) spoke directly to the mantra by Dead Prez. At that time, “two guys from Europe” called the Crookers were thinking big too. During soundcheck, I received word from Plain Pat, Cudi’s A&R/manager, that “Day ‘n” Nite” was recently remixed by the Italian DJ/production duo. That said, KiD CuDi’s crossover had just begun.
A few months after working “Day ‘n’ Nite” locally, Cudi lands a full-page feature in Mass Appeal magazine. The staple to New York lifestyle traversing the worlds of music, art, and fashion tapped Cudi to open for Killer Mike at their 50th anniversary party. DJ Sureshot, and myself provided the music for the night at the Chelsea club, Rebel (Ed. Note: I also deejayed for Killer Mike that night). When the Kid took the stage after my warm words for his introduction, the audience was lukewarm. Yet, “Day ‘n’ Nite” changed the reception to that of a hometown hero. He carried New York on his back that night.
MAY 2008, NYC.
The announcement of one of Cudi’s biggest endorsements had yet to come by way of Kanye West. But at T-Mobile’s release party for the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic phone, KiD CuDi, Chester French, and the great DJ Kid Capri performed. At this point, the only way Cudi could go was up.
Thanks to the legal team at Universal/Motown, they laid down their pimp hand on the rights to the “Heaven At Night” video. Luckily, I salvaged this screenshot of my cameo before it disappeared from virtual existence. For a low-fi video for the track from Cudi’s mixtape, A Kid Named Cudi, there was a scant supply of beer which was supposed to help simulate the look of one of the regular parties Scott Mescudi frequents. What made the shoot even more awkward was hearing Ratatat’s “Tacobel Canon” (sampled for “Heaven At Night”) sped up to about 45rpm, for the sake of not wasting time filming to the sluggish accordion loop…but it worked.
BEHIND THE SCENES KID CUDI’S HEAVEN @ NIGHT
VASHTIE WRITING A KID CUDI VIDEO
KID CUDI HEAVEN AT NIGHT (UPDATE)
For months of seeing Cudi working at putting his name in lights, he finally did it when he put on a showstopping performance at New York’s Red Bull performance space in July 2008. Kanye West, and Paul Rosenberg were impressed. In September of last year, Cudi had not released a video for “Day ‘n’ Nite”, but “Heaven At Night” seemed like a decent visual introduction. A funny YouTube video featuring KiD CuDi and director/party maven VA$HTIE put Cudi’s charisma on blast. The clip proved that Scott Mescudi had the “it” factor that it would take to break into Hollywood. Our interview got to the root of the inspiration for “Heaven At Night”, and the cinematic feel of his acclaimed mixtape.
LEAKS ON DJ TREATS’ WEEKLY TREATS
The sky is about to fall.
Up until this point, I figured I had positioned myself not just as one of KiD CuDi’s fans, but someone who he had in his corner. Being a DJ and a music editor at a popular men’s magazine, I was in a position to break new talent (via my Weekly Treats blog), as I did in his case, and as I continue to do in my support of Mickey Factz, Theophilus London, Jade, Supreeme, and 77Klash. To be honest, I’m privileged to play their records. Yet in one case, where I toed the invisible line between playing a song, and streaming a song, it caused a brief rift between me and Cudder. He adamantly asked to have the song removed. Without going into details, it was simply resolved as two rational human beings do—they speak about it, despite their differences. Ironically, another T-Mobile party mended things. Maybe having Aurbrey O’Day give me a big hug, and a kiss put me in a better mood for Cudi and I to resolve. Haha, I kid.
COMPLEX INDIVIDUAL: KID CUDI, FEBRUARY 2009.
KiD CuDi photo by Shane Nash.
At 25 years-old, KiD CuDi has not forgotten what feels like to be young. For his first Complex magazine feature, the concept was to surround him by the excitement of video games at Dave & Busters (42nd St. Time Square). Why? Simply because the kid is a winner, already.
The end draws nigh.
I have yet to hear KiD CuDi’s album in it’s entirety. I’m conflicted by the pressure to download it, or buy the CD. Maybe it’s my loyalty to one of the first people whose sound I aligned myself with in this post ’90s rap era. Or simply to get the full experience of an album I was previewed by Cudi this past March. Our mutual friend Jason Scott arranged the meeting, where he briefly touched on the feeling of being tasered by the Arizona police at Reebok’s NBA All-Star game party. With the mishap behind him, he played “Soundtrack 2 My Life”, “Hyyerr”, “Sky Might Fall” (the full version), “Solo Dolo”, and about two freestyles which were leaked within a matter of weeks. Towards the end of the session, Cudi chided me for hiding a recorder in my Paul Frank hoodie (the poorman’s BAPE). We laughed, and cracked jokes on each other because this was the ebb and flow, of DJ Treats and KiD CuDi.