Cudi comes home

Contact Zac Younkins at [email protected].

Zac Younkins

Over Spring Break, Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center was jam-packed Tuesday, March 25 when Kid Cudi returned to his hometown to kick off his 2014 Cudi Life Tour.

Scott Mescudi, who grew up in Shaker Heights, played to a sold-out floor with the undeniable bravado and showmanship of a true rock star. Cudi may have lost some people with his recent more experimental material, but you’d never know with the sheer excitement emanating from the venue.

Minutes after King Chip opened the show, construction began on a large mountain prop that towered over even the fans in the bowl seats. Cudi finally came out in a space suit to his instrumental track, “Destination Mother Moon” off of his recent Satellite Flight album. The futuristic and outer space themes prevalent in all of Cudi’s music was at the center of attention

Cudi opened with “Unfuckwitable” from “Indicud” followed by a heart-felt, if not somewhat muddled and contrived monologue for all of his long-time Cleveland supporters. He seemed earnestly thankful that his fans have stuck by his unique style as it evolved from album to album.

He played songs “Going to the Ceremony”, “Satellite Flight”, “Troubled Boy” and “Internal Bleeding” from the personal and genre-defying new album, but the surprise treat was his incorporation of older material into the act. He played five tracks from his career-making mixtape, “A Kid Named Cudi” and a few tracks from his first two studio albums, including radio favorites “Day ‘N Night” and “Soundtrack 2 My Life.”

Cudi even gave some better-than-the-record performances of some of his personal favorites, including “GHOST!” and “Marijuana.” Though King Chip, formerly Chip The Ripper, gave a lackluster opening act, failing to engage the audience or command the stage, Cudi’s setlist was careful to please both long-time followers and fans of his newer style. His low point, bringing out Chip for “Brothers” a song that crashes and burns without A$AP Rocky, was still brought back to life by a stellar live “Just What I Am” that had the entire crowd buzzing and singing along.

Cudi’s evolution is remarkable. From his 2010 performance in Kent, again with Chip and additionally, Gorilla Zoe, he has made great strides as a performer. Where his Kent show was high-energy but fell slightly short in content and delivery, his return to Cleveland was triumphant and flashy. Maybe the improvement came from Cudi’s successful venture into acting or maybe its his allegedly new drug-free lifestyle, adopted since the last time I saw him in Kent.

People say Cudi gave up his 15 minutes of fame by not producing more universally likable material. While this may have got him essentially booted from Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, Cudi’s choices musically maybe one day be seen as prothetic. Like the hip-hop David Bowie, he gave up his trademark sound for something much more diverse. Though critics may not see the point of it now, Cudi may one day be seen as a revisionist and forerunner of a whole new sound, a sound of the future.

Contact Zac Younkins at [email protected].