Scott Mescudi’s not your average every day emcee. Some might even argue he’s not a rapper per se – Jay Soul did reviewing his last album saying “his ‘rap’ lyrics only deserve a mere passing interest.” That might seem a damning remark outside of context, but in context the album received an 8 out of 10 overall. So what is it exactly about this Kid named Cudi that works? Why is his unorthodox, often psychedelic brand of hip-hop music so successful?
“How’d you get so fuckin cool?
Fools probably trying to spit at you daily
The price you pay cause you hot
Has anyone told you that you fresh as hell
And I dig the way you wear your hair too
It makes you look more mature
See I just wanna be a man, and
I think you can be the one to guide me
But who the fuck am I kidding?
And you know they say I’m wild
But real people rarely come around, if ever
You got it going on young lady”
The eccentric, self-produced music of “Indicud” could be a soundtrack for “Edward Scissorhands.” For those who have never seen Tim Burton’s masterpiece, it tells the story of a young and gifted artist who can create exquisitely beautiful sculptures and topiary artwork, yet Edward is both used and abused by the townspeople around him and winds up feared and reviled by the populace after a series of unfortunate accidents. The story is told as a reminiscence of the young girl who loved him in days gone by, and while her whole story can be seen as an elaborately constructed fantasy to entertain a granddaughter, the denouement of the film suggests that Ed is in fact real. From day one Cudi’s oddball albums have suggested to me that duality – Scott Mescudi could either be telling us fiction or the elaborate fantasy worlds he sing-raps his way through could in fact be his own bizarre truth.
“Please shut the front door and walk right in
In the land of the man who rock it hard for them
Super Solo Dolo attack, run and tell that
If you’d like to know, yes, I am on acid
Who could it be? K-I-D
Searching all day in the streets for DMT
Don’t sip it, though – it couldn’t answer
Drip, drip all day – bumpin MGMT, homey
Watch who you hate on fam’, without the facts
Sad niggaz back in the hood bumpin rat-a-tat-tat
To me it was a dream, a fiend to understand that
You never seen a nigga like me?
I just tell ’em I’m an oxymoron when I open my mouth
Cause people talk shit before knowin what I’m about”
Cudi’s choice of guest stars on “Indicud” is as unusual and unpredictable as the singing rapper himself. From long time Oakland veteran Too $hort on “Girls,” to the lispy lingual sting of RZA on “Beez,” to the pop rock sister trio Haim on “Red Eye” and pimped out and screwed up flows of King Chip and A$AP Rocky on “Brothers,” each song is a completely different and unpredictable mood and scenario, yet Cudi’s tripped out production and singing are a constant weaving throughout the 70+ minutes. The results is hip-hop’s equivalent of mood music – you can light a candle and stare at the flickering flame while your mind drifts to his concepts.
“Hmmm; I got my – head on the swivel
Think it’s time I – open my mind where I left it, niggaz think it’s easy
Make sure that they can’t delete me
I’m bout to be rewire your whole fucking mainframe
Sick of the same – lame old same thing
I got some bubonic you might wanna mix with some whiskey
I got a vendetta with showing niggaz that I’m way better
Feeling way worthless
The lost black sheep of G.O.O.D. Music”
And there it is on “Cold Blooded” – Scott Mescudi both relishes and regrets being misunderstood. Maybe he should be called Kid Scissorhands. Edward Cudi? Whatever. He yearns to fit in, then says “fuck it” and embraces being cold and distant, opting for his artistic creativity at the expense of loneliness – a recurring theme on every album he’s released. Is it all true? Is he really the lonely loner who smokes weed at night just to get by, or as he says on “Just What I Am” is it that “we’re all troubled” and he’s just the only one in touch enough with his inner self to admit it? “I diagnose my damn self – these damn pills ain’t working fam.” Perhaps not, but his music is. The odder Cudi seems to get, the more compelling he is. If he spit straight up swag raps, never sang, and had all of the hot producers of the minute collaborating on “Indicud” it just wouldn’t be worth listening to. Scott Mescudi may be many things and nothing all at once but he’s definitely not the “same lame old same thing.”