Kid Cadi’s new documentary, The Man Called Scott, has a highlight that captures the Ohio native’s incredible journey to becoming a hip-hop superstar.
During a 2009 interview on New York radio station Hot 97, Cadi tried to explain to the die-hard host Funkmaster Flex how he managed to break through without the blessing of the rap industry’s gatekeepers. Kudi turned his head with his debut single “Day ‘n’ Nite”, a sad synth-heavy song about a lonely, self-loathing stoner trying to get out of depression.
“Now look at this / Madness, the magnet continues to attract me, me,” he admitted on the autobiographical track. “I try to run, but I see, I’m not so fast / I think I’m the first, but I will definitely finish the last, the last.”
Cudi, née Scott Mescudi, initially acquired a small but passionate underground following the publication of Day ‘n’ Nite on MySpace. Now, with no high-profile co-subscriber or team to bolster his street reputation, he sat opposite one of the country’s most influential DJs. Flex was confused.
“I have a very hard time understanding this whole Internet rapper topic,” Flex admitted many years before social media apps like TikTok became a popular platform for bands looking to go viral. “So you didn’t have a deal then … while this record was being played on the radio?”
“I actually only got the deal two months ago,” Kadi replied with a laugh. “Yes, we got to Billboard. no deal “.
More than a decade after “Day ‘n’ Nite” hit # 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, Kudi, 37, is still laughing. His 2009 double platinum album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, is widely regarded as setting the stage for so-called emo rap, a subgenre of hip-hop that features a varied sonic palette and a continuous outpouring of emotion. and vulnerability. Years later, Kadi’s DNA can be found in everyone from the late Lil Peep and Juice WRLD to Lil Uzi Vert, Trippy Redd, Travis Scott and Princess Nokia.
“You can see the look on Flex’s face,” Cadi recalls during an interview with Zoom from his home in Calabasas. “He just couldn’t figure out how I could work with Kanye and Hov without using the radio.”
Kanye is, of course, music and fashion icon Kanye West, and Hov is Sean “J-Z” Carter, recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and hip-hop’s first billionaire. However, this is not a sophisticated attempt to throw names. Kadi is still genuinely amazed that the same kid who left Cleveland in 2005 with just $ 500 and a demo tape to pursue a rap career in New York paid studio time with Applebee and was evicted from his apartments for several years, keeps a journal. the songwriter is credited with two of the most influential figures in music.
“I was part of this new era of hip-hop with artists like Kid Sister and Cool Kids,” says Kadi. “We just went about our business. I remember, before the release of my debut album, I could not sleep. I thought I made a mistake. I thought, “I’m too weird for them. People are not going to mess with it. ” And then [the album] hit and, you know, it happened the way it happened. “
It is the same can you fucking believe it the energy that explodes as he discusses his latest movie role in Don’t Look Up, an upcoming Netflix comedy directed by Adam McKay about a giant comet on a catastrophic collision course with Earth. Kadi plays DJ Chello, a renowned music artist in a relationship with pop star Ariana Grande.
“I thought, ‘Are you sure they want me? “” – Kadi jokes about his reaction when he learned that McKay’s team wanted to include him in a stellar project, which also involves Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill. , Tyler Perry, Cate Blanchett and Chris Evans. “It was a drug. I knew [Leonardo] for years just being in New York. He has always been my supporter. But this was my first meeting with Jennifer, and she was insanely cool. It was bad just to be with them on the set … like fanning out secretly. “
Since playing the lovable hustler Domingo King over and over again on HBO’s How To Do It In America, acting has been part of Kid Cadi’s expanding portfolio, which includes the BAPE clothing line, live performance app Encore and film production. and management company Mad Solar.
But it’s clear from A Man Called Scott that music remains his most important outlet. Directed by Robert Alexander, Amazon Prime, which will premiere on November 5 on the streaming service, attempts to unravel the mysterious artist’s tangled mythology.
The documentary includes interviews with his original production group Dot Da Genius, Plain Pat and Emile Haney; manager Dennis Cummings; Epic Records CEO and longtime supporter of Sylvia Ron; and actor and friend Shia LaBeouf. There are also reviews from Pharrell Williams, A $ AP Rocky and the surprisingly grounded West, who first signed Cudi to his GOOD Music album in 2008 and whose 808s & Heartbreak, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and The Life of Pablo. albums are remembered by Cudi.
But it’s almost a religious connection between Kudi and his fans, as seen in the document’s electric performance video that separates Kudi from his peer-hitting hits.
“I can finally get on stage and feel the love,” says Kadi, referring to the days when he was skeptical of his growing fan base. “Because now I look in the mirror and I like what I see. And I know that I’m not just an ordinary artist on stage, where children just listen to song after song, and that says it all. No, the kids are really ready [hear] sermon. Like, I’m their preacher. ”
When the executives of Complex Networks, the co-producers of The Man Called Scott, first approached Kudi with the idea for a project, he immediately drew attention to Brett Morgen’s acclaimed Kurt Cobain: Editing Damn, a 2015 documentary by Nirvana Frontman.
“It’s masterful how [Morgan] was able to piece together all sorts of visuals, illustrations and music to tell Kurt’s story, ”says Kadi when asked how he and Alexander came up with the fabulous interpretation of The Man Called Scott, which includes dancers, actors, and extraordinary special effects.
“Kurt has always been the figure in my heart that guided me through the music,” he continues. “I wanted to do something like that, where I could explain some things a little more besides a tweet or a magazine interview. I just knew that Rob could be trusted with the material. He was going to ask all the right questions. “
During the filming of The Man Called Scott, Alexander found Kadi’s concern as an artist refreshing, even as it led to mistakes such as his critically-acclaimed 2015 rock twist Speedin ‘Bullet 2 Heaven.
“It was always great to see that his approach is based on following his feelings and personal preferences, and not public opinion,” says Alexander.
Cudi is definitely not suited to traditional hip hopper mode. He sings rap in a deliberately even tone, avoiding melodicism for blatant droning over heavy beats. His ethereal production includes everyone from the French psychedelic pop group of the 70s Le Système Crapoutchik to the synth-pop duo of the 80s Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark and legendary soul vocalist Lou Rawls.
Songs such as “Day ‘n’ Night,” “Soundtrack 2 My Life,” and “Pursuit of Happiness,” which detail Kadi’s struggles with alienation, anxiety, and self-medication, are nothing like the floating flashy hymns of Rick Ross or the hood. … Jeezy’s stamped trap music to name two of Kadi’s contemporaries. However, Kudi’s confession was associated with listeners who were going through many of the same hardships.
So what made Kadi return to her inner demons in The Man Called Scott?
“I’ve never had the opportunity to say it my own way,” he explains. “And I wanted to control the narrative. I’m in a much better position and I’m comfortable talking about some things. “
And there is still a lot to be revealed, from the horrific death of his father in 1995 to his arrest on drug charges in 2010 to the cocaine-fueled downward spiral in which Cudy alienated his closest friends and peers. After experiencing suicidal urges, he immediately went to rehab in October 2016.
It was at the darkest moment that Cudy received a much-needed shout from the West. During a show in Houston, West praised his friend and protégé as “the most important artist of the last 10 years.”
“My mom was visiting me,” Kudi recalls. “And [she] came up to me and said, “Look at this.” And it was Kanye at the concert. I started to bulge my eyes. As if I had just started crying like a big child. Because we had a fight, and there was beef. But this is my brother. I kind of understood at that moment … I realized that he really loves me. ” In 2018, they will work together on the acclaimed EP Kids See Ghosts.
Since then, Kudi has found peace with his loved ones, his legacy and himself. In the documentary, he says that the birth his daughter Wada, now 11, has given him a joy he could not find in his career and that he now regrets having made women “go through so much drama” in his life. When the theme turns to younger artists like Jaden and Willow Smith and Lil Yachty, who greet him in The Man Called Scott as a change agent whose music has helped some struggling children get through another day, he takes it all calmly.
“Sometimes it makes you feel like a dinosaur … but, you know, it’s really cool,” muses Kadi, who released his seventh studio album, “Man on the Moon III: The Chosen,” last year. Coming up: duet with Ariana Grande, collaborating with Jay-Z for the tumultuous western “The Harder They Fall” and the upcoming Netflix adult animated series “Entergalactic” with Black-ish creator Kenya Barris based on Cudi’s upcoming self-titled album due next year.
“Of course every artist wants to sell a record, but my main goal is to inspire,” he says. “I can fall asleep at night with a smile on my face, knowing that I am helping people.”