HotStar: Kid Cudi

There are some who might take offense to being called spacey, but Kid Cudi wouldn’t likely be one of them.

Whether it was a stroke of genius or simply art imitating life, the hip-hop hipster recently dropped his conceptual debut Man on the Moon: The End of Day just a few months after the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

While the Apollo mission may have looked to the moon and beyond, Cudi’s release, which debuted at No. 4 on the charts, blends equal parts intergalactic and introspection, featuring experimental beats and lyrical themes of alienation and paranoia.

Getting personal wasn’t a giant leap for Cudi, who also scored a chart topper earlier this year with the loner anthem “Day ‘n’ Nite” from his A Kid Named Cudi mix tape.

Cudi told Pollstar that after seeing the way his fans connected to that single, he found the confidence to push the envelope with Man on the Moon because he knew they were “ready to embrace something different.”

He explained the album gave him the chance to collaborate with Ratatat, an indie act that had heavily inspired him when he was working on creating his own sound.

“I wanted to accommodate the people that have an eclectic ear,” he said. “Working with Ratatat, it was just so easy to create those songs because it was like working with somebody that’s on the same frequency as far as creativity.

“I really wanted to take it to another level. The mix tape was me kind of holding back a lot of ideas,” he said. “I felt like I needed to step it up. I tell people this all the time – the mix tape was like a TV series and the album is the feature-length film.”

The reference is apt coming from a guy who spent a year in film school at the University of Toledo in Ohio before moving to New York City to pursue a career in music.

A chance meeting at Def Jam introduced Cudi to his current manager, Patrick “Plain Pat” Reynolds, who was working in A&R at the time.

“There was just always something I’d liked even from the really rough demo stuff back then,” Reynolds told Pollstar. “At the time it wasn’t right. I couldn’t really do anything at Def Jam with it.”

They kept in touch and Reynolds, who left Def Jam soon after the initial meeting with Cudi, said their friendship eventually evolved into him assuming the role of manager.

Reynolds helped produce Cudi’s mix tape, which got the rapper recognized by Kanye West and led to a guest appearance and songwriting credits on West’s 808s & Heartbreak release last year.

That mix tape also earned Cudi recognition with William Morris Endeavor Entertainment’s Cara Lewis, whom Reynolds said “reached out to us and got on board really early.”

Lewis sent Cudi out with some other new kids on the hip-hop block for this summer’s Great Hangover tour that featured Asher Roth and Cudi, along with B.o.B., 88 Keys and Pac Div.

“I definitely grew a lot,” Cudi said. “It was dope that me and Asher got a chance to go out together, because, you know, we’re both up-and-coming artists and we were experiencing something new together. … Tours are the best when you’re with homies and that’s what it felt like – just like one crazy road trip. It was grueling at times, but with those shows, when you get onstage, you just forget about all that, man. It’s just so much fun.”

The tour played festivals and clubs around the country, and Cudi said he liked the energy in the small venues.

“When you can reach out and touch the fans, I love shows like that,” he said. “They were really into it.”

The tour also gave the rapper, who performs solo, the opportunity to tap his background in film and present audiences with some cinematic visuals alongside his music.

“I wanted to mix it up,” he said. “So I brought in some stadium-status, next-level visuals to smaller venues.”

Another upcoming gig that will tap Cudi’s film background is a role he’ll play in Mark Wahlberg’s HBO comedy series “How to Make It in America,” which will focus on three guys trying to make it big in the Big Apple.

“I feel like I’m gonna connect with my character a lot,” he said. “These guys work nine to five, so when I’m talking about the grind, it’s taking it back.”

Along with shooting the series, Cudi will be busy promoting the album and the upcoming Activision “DJ Hero” video game release, which will feature one of his tracks.

While there might be time left for “spot dates here and there” in 2009, Cudi said he plans to hit the road hard beginning next year.
“I’m ready to step it up for the Man on the Moon tour,” he said. “I want to hit everybody up all at once.”