I was trying to make a playlist for Mental Health Awareness Month. The playlist would feature at least one song from rappers that I have enjoyed in the last five to ten years; my high school/ college years. Wale’s “Contemplate”, Vic Mensa’s “There’s A Lot Going On”, Isaiah Rashad’s “Rope”, and many more songs from former XXL Freshmen (Where’s the 2018 list?) about fears, anxiety, angst, and the problems in their head that make them do harm to their body. Remember kids, a healthy body is only as strong as a healthy mind. I don’t think there has been another artist with as many mental issues highlighted throughout their discography in this post-DMX culture more than Scott Mescudi AKA Kid Cudi.
We were introduced to the Cleveland representer with 808’s & Heartbreaks, an album that birthed a new subgenre called, “Emo-Rap”, that has only been the catalyst for the breakout of superstars, Drake and Childish Gambino. From 2008 onward, we began to see more songs from rappers with either one full verse of rapping or an entire three-minute piece of work featuring only melodic crooning. When we got to Man On The Moon: The End of the Day in 2009, we had one of the best major label introductions with his debut album. His doubts, humor, night terrors, goals, fears, and optimism, especially on “Sky Might Fall”, my favorite, “Heart of a Lion”, and everyone’s favorite “Pursuit of Happiness” turned listeners into loyal supporters as he spoke for those that were afraid to talk about personal problems that didn’t get attention on Top 40 radio. No wonder Logic made “1-800-273-8255”, he is a branch off the Kid Cudi tree.
Things were good, the music was inspiring and connecting with critics and fans. A year later, Cudi released his sophomore follow-up, but I took it as a regression. My initial reaction to Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr Rager was “this is as dark as a suicide note”. If you watch the video for my favorite, “Mr Rager”, you’ll see the fight for happiness and sanity against depression and anxiety played out as one man takes on the impossible task of surviving a warehouse full of opponents. Unfortunately, I didn’t see this video until 2016. 2010 Short-T witnessed an artist lash out at fans, friends, an ex GF, and even a fellow writer (S/O to Yoh!) over the last 8 years. Understandably, the more you tell an artist what they should do the more resistant the artist becomes. With promises of MOTM 3 album and A Man Named Scott mixtape never being fulfilled, fans were resilient and judgmental as Kid Cudi resented rapping and Hip-Hop in general to the point where his last few releases have been misfires into the rock genre in the form of WZRD and Speeding Bullet To Heaven after the salvageable projects of Indicud and Satellite Flight: The Journey To Mother Moon.
In 2016, Cudi finally checked himself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges. Since then, I have fallen off from being as big of a fan as I once was, but I admire Scott for never hiding his ups and downs through his journey to strengthen his mental health. He’s being a father to his daughter and is a huge influence on A$AP Rocky, Logic, Lil Uzi Vert, and Travis Scott, all artists who have had their sounds stolen and reproduced by artists all throughout Hip-Hop creating countless soundalikes to the Man on the Moon. Thank you for the soul-baring and inspiring music. HAPPY MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH!
I’m really enjoying all of the moments in Hip-Hop that revolve around mental health. Here are some of my favorite interviews for you to enjoy and learn about how and when to acknowledge the problems in your life.