There’s something darkly fascinating about Kid Cudi’s debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day. Scott Mescudi’s first major work is wrought with tales of personal suffering and dreamy, trippy soundscapes that transport the listener through dark reaches of space. In terms of scope and displacement, it’s not unlike Georges Méliès’ precocious cinematic masterpiece, A Trip to the Moon.
Longtime listeners of Cudi will know darkness and anxiety to be a forceful impetus in the rapper’s work. The chorus hook to “Soundtrack 2 My Life” has him declare, “I’ve got some issues that nobody can see …” for example. Through the years, Kid Cudi has excelled at transmuting personal struggle and emotional vulnerability into captivating, visceral music.
As such, it might not have come as a shock for some of Cudi’s following when he announced last week he would be checking into rehab for depression.
In a Facebook post addressed to his fans, Mescudi explained, “I am not at peace. I haven’t been since you’ve known me. If I didn’t come here, I wouldve done something to myself. I simply am a damaged human swimming in a pool of emotions everyday of my life.”
On the one hand, this makes sense because emotional gloom permeates so much of Kid Cudi’s work. Listen to tracks like “Solo Dolo (Nightmare),” or “Mr. Rager” for evidence thereof, and see the rapper take refuge in drugs and alcohol in one of my personal favorites, “Mojo So Dope.”
On the other hand, Mescudi is a human being just like the rest of us. That he’s been able to derive compelling works of art from his personal ordeals and calamities is laudable, but let’s not forget deep down, Mr. Rager isn’t much different from you and me.
A few weeks prior to announcing his going into rehab, Cudi notably initiated a twitter beef with Kanye West and Drake, claiming, “My tweets apply to who they apply. Ye, Drake, whoever. These n—as dont give a fuck about me. And they aint fuckin with me.”
Mescudi alone knows what sort of internal demons he’s been contending with for years. He has given us as listeners—and hopefully himself, as a creator—a powerful tool to fight our darkness and fears with his music. But let it come as no surprise the human spirit has its limits. Try as we might, none of us are indefatigable.
It takes courage to share one’s vulnerabilities with the world. Cudi has done this twofold.
First, his musical output talks plainly about losing his father, drinking and smoking too much, and chronic depression in general. For those undergoing similar struggles, Cudi’s opus can be thought of as deriving creation from despair. If Goya claimed the sleep of reason produces monsters, Cudi donned a space suit and journeyed through time and space to confront his night terrors.
Secondly, he’s divulged his experiences with suicidal thoughts and made public his decision to seek help accordingly.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that roughly 117 Americans end their lives daily, and 50 percent of those who commit suicide suffer from severe depression. Many of those who did so likely thought nobody would listen to them or care about their problems.
Mescudi’s music and public declaration of his depression may yet give hope to those who feel life isn’t worth living. Since entering rehab, the rapper has sparked constructive discussions about the nature of mental illness and the importance of seeking help. Open dialogue about these issues like the kind Cudi is raising will hopefully convince others it’s perfectly okay to ask for help.
So far, I’ve had the privilege of seeing Kid Cudi in concert once. It was at Lollapalooza Argentina, at the Hipódromo de San Isidro in the northern suburbs of Buenos Aires. He closed out his set with what might be my favorite track of his overall, “Up Up & Away.”
The chorus of that song declares exuberantly, “I’ll be up up and away, up up and away ‘Cause they gon’ judge me anyway so whatever.” I hope the ethos proves as helpful to Mescudi and all those grappling with mental illness as it has for me.
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of Dejan Pralica on Flickr.
Horus Alas is a senior philosophy major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.