He used to make funny faces in the mirror and rap to himself growing up. Weird? Maybe, but consider it practice for the place Scott "Kid Cudi" Mescudi finds himself now. The rapper from Cleveland quit a restaurant job in his hometown of Shaker Heights after his boss encouraged him to leave Ohio and carve his lane in the entertainment industry. By then, Cudi was already rapping on the local circuit, and when he decided to drop out of college after his freshman year, he moved to New York City on October 7, 2004. In his pocket? A demo tape and $500 cash. NYC was a new beginning for Cudi. A loner in a city where he didn't know anyone, Cudi would walk aimlessly through Times Square and go to the movies by himself. His uncle, the last sibling of Cudi’s father who died of cancer when he was 11, allowed him to stay in his South Bronx apartment.
Cudi slept on a couch while juggling retail jobs at stores like American Apparel and A Bathing Ape and clocking long hours at the recording studio every night with his managers Plain Pat and Emile. (In 2008, Cudi and his partners started the indie label Dream On.) Cudi fell into the typical MC grind until tragedy struck in 2006: His uncle suffered the same fate as Cudi’s father and passed away. Cudi went back to Cleveland for the funeral in a emotional funk which inspired "Day N Nite"— the song that would change his life forever. Recorded in a pitch-black room, Cudi put his heart into the gloomy pop-hit.
After posting it on his MySpace, the song started racking up hits and eventually caught the attention of A-Trak, Kanye West's former tour DJ. A-Trak fell in love with the song, and Cudi ended up signing a single deal on the DJ’s "Fool's Gold" label. A critically-acclaimed mixtape, presented by Pat and Emile and co-branded with NYC streetwear label 10 Deep called "A KiD Named CuDi" was the MC's first full body of work, and released on July 17, 2008 . Things were looking up, but the game truly changed when A-Trak played "Day N Nite" at Kanye West's "Stronger" premiere party. West loved the song,and saw enough potential in Cudi that he flew him out to Hawaii to do reference hooks for Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3. Soon, ‘Ye and Cudi started work on Kanye's 808s & Heartbreak album. Cudi's singsongy, eclectic style was the perfect match for 808s, and the up-andcomer ended up writing four songs (“Heartless,” “Paranoid,” “Welcome To Heartbreak,” and “Robocop”). Before long, the kid from Cleveland was beginning to creep into the mainstream.
With hype (and Kanye) behind him and a Billboard hit with "Day N Nite," Cudi inked a deal with Kanye's G.O.O.D music label. Soon after, he parlayed that into a major deal with Universal Motown. On September 15, 2009, Kid Cudi released his debut album Man On The Moon: The End Of Day, a genre-bending concept album that took people through Scott Mescudi's dreams, nightmares, and unique views of the world. The album—which featured production from Emile, Plain Pat, RATATAT, MGMT and Kanye West—sold 104,419 copies its first week, good enough for #4 on the Billboard chart. The album's reception, both critical and commercial, proved Universal Motown President Sylvia Rhone's assertion that Cudi was a "game-changer in hip-hop". And a game-changer he has been. As the stats go for Cudder, to date he's sold over 4.6 million digital singles, 1.3 million mobiletones, and according to The Hype Machine, he is among the top ten most blogged about artists of all-time.
As of August 2010, Cudi's videos on VEVO clock in at over 32 million views. In addition to being sought-after for his music, top-tier companies like Converse and Heineken have tapped Kid Cudi to appear in campaigns like "3 Artists, 1 Song" and "Plug into Summer," respectively, while Askmen.com has labeled him a "Style Icon." After his debut album dropped, Cudi set off on a sold-out city-to-city tour with Asher Roth ("The Great Hangover Tour") and appeared as the main attraction at festivals like Audiotistic and Bonnaroo, all while prepping his sophomore album, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. The highly-anticipated album, set to release November 9, will feature Kanye West, Mary J. Blige and GLC, with production from Emile, Plain Pat, Jim Jonsin, Diplo, Dot Da Genius and others. Its first single, "Erase Me," debuted at #22 on Billboard's Hot 100 when it released on iTunes this past August. Cudi promises that the album will be darker than its first, and will build on the cinematic theme that he prides his music on. There's no question that the album will be well-received by critics and fans alike, so the only question that remains is: where will you be for the revolution?