Kid Cudi comes back to the music industry as a solo artist. After various featurings, projects with Kanye West, and the founding of the group The Scotts with Travis Scott. After a process of rehabilitation, self-loss and perhaps a self-finding, Scott Mescudi (his birth name) announced through an Instagram live, it could not have been otherwise during lockdown, his new work: an album that will be released along with an animated series on Netflix and a single that we already have here.
The promotion of the single has been meticulously studied and goes hand in hand with Virgil Abloh. A merchandising consisting of a single artwork printed on a shirt, vinyl and frame created one hunderd percent by the founder of Off-White, under the name of Kid Cudi c/o Virgil Abloh ‘Pulling Strings’. And so far nothing is out of the ordinary.
Someone taught me that you can talk for hours about the meaning of a single song. So surely a collaboration between Kid Cudi and Virgil Abloh could not be just that. Let us return to the concept of the meticulous. It is complex, or at least it is to translate it into words, but I will try to make it simple.
The puppet. The artwork has several visions, several theories and they ended up forming a circle of meanings. Perhaps this part is one of the most commented on the Internet, given that the singer is represented, not by chance, in the same position as he appears in one of his most iconic and viral videos. In the form of criticism and contempt against some news portals, with hints of rebellion and mischief, Kid Cudi greeted the TMZ cameras with contempt in 2012. This gesture, which went viral, is picked up by Abloh and put under the strings of Kid Cudi himself.
And with that, we move onto the second point. As I said, it is a circle that is gets narrowed until it closes. The musician’s fans are well aware of his well-known theory of his fight against himself. We see a Kid Cudi moving his own ropes, who traces a path sometimes uncontrolled due to his own fears, anguishes and mental discomforts.
Leader of the delinquents, the single that leads to this collaboration, is the new but not so new statement that had us waiting for the past 8 years. The verses of the song were already public in a 2012 live in which Kid Cudi is “challenged” by a fan and by the pressure from some non-believers of his ability to rap. His albums until then, Man on the Moon I and II, still defined them as a hip hop genre, have a clear rock trend that over the years is getting accentuated and evolving, sometimes in indie and sometimes in punk rock.
I don’t know if more tests are necessary but I don’t think it’s a demonstration to the public but a demonstration to himself, that he can jump from side to side and from top to bottom. That some verses “casually” rapped in a live can return with the greatest force they have ever had to demonstrate that he simply does what he wants. That he can simply go back, throw a thousand clues “whether you see them or not” and leave again. That he simply takes the genre of rebellion par excellence and plants the words of a genre for emotions. Kurt Cobain told us about his torments in a grunge rock, Elliott Smith told us about his emotions in an indie rock/folk setting, but Kid Cudi tells us about his martyrdom in hip hop verses and words of rock and that gives a lot to think about.
Leader of the delinquents transports us to a more urban stage. Perhaps it is an introduction that then ends up disassembling, but we will only know it with time. At the moment, Virgil Abloh gives us clear indications. If we go to the next point, although it seems insignificant, it is as important as the rest. The back of the shirt has the title of the single written in Abloh’s own handwriting and the calligraphy is clearly inspired by the New York urban artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, a great exponent of urban art and graffiti. A clear demonstration that art has long been considered a crime but can now be seen in museums.
Again, I don’t think the relationship is a coincidence. Many theories come to my mind. Certain or false, all of them lead me to the same point. Virgil Abloh makes a collection of items taken from the trunk of memories to explain, and it couldn’t be otherwise, Kid Cudi’s return in his most human form ever.