“The Kid Cudi stuff, I think I want to put it on the back burner and chill out with that,” the rapper said in third person during a recent interview with Zane Lowe. While some artists have threatened to retire in the past (Nicki Minaj, Jay-Z, Logic), most don’t. Instead, even as he considers retirement, Kid Cudi has re-emerged through a new artistic phase.
On what could be Kid Cudi’s final album, the Cleveland native shares his most feel-good effort yet. Cudi’s eighth solo LP, Entergalactic, nods to “Enter Galactic (Love Connection Part I),” a celestial, shroomed-out jam from the rapper’s 2009 debut Man on the Moon: The End of Day. Although the albums are nearly fifteen years apart, Entergalactic continues to personify Cudi’s healing process through euphoric soundscapes within its 15 tracks and animated television special of the same title. A MOTM introduction for Gen Z viewers and a look at Cudi’s imaginative world for longtime fanatics.
The film Entergalactic centers love interests Jabari (Kid Cudi) and Meadow (Jessica Williams), who serendipitously find romance as neighbors in Manhattan. Co-created with Kenya Barris (Black-ish, Mixed-ish, Grown-ish, BlackAF) and directed by Fletcher Moules (Clash of Clans: Revenge, Agent King), Entergalactic features an all-star cast including Ty Dolla Sign, Timothée Chalamet, Vanessa Hudgens, Laura Harrier, and 070 Shake. Across multiple chapters, the 92-minute visual is an amusing retrospect on “Enter Galactic” retelling the song’s concept through luminous visuals and rom-com storytelling.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I feel like I would revisit that song in any type of way,” Cudi, whose real name is Scott Mescudi, told Variety. “It was something that I recorded years ago—sort of as a simple love song—but it was nice to expand upon its ideas and take it to other places, adding in characters and other storylines to see where it could go.”
Cudi isn’t new to uplifting fans through lighthearted songs. His “lonely stoner” aesthetic and vulnerability redefined hip-hop in the 2010s, unrivaled by the rise of equally humorous and pensive rappers including Childish Gambino, Tyler, the Creator, Mac Miller, and Chance the Rapper. Vocal about his experience with depression and substance abuse, Cudi’s angst has been repeatedly uncovered in interviews, music, and social media.
In 2019, the rapper admitted that his 2015 LP Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven was his darkest effort, and conceptualized Cudi’s woes with addiction, depression, and contemplating suicide. SB2H symbolically purged Cudi’s former self with the rapper gnashing and wailing over punk-influenced tracks. His following two solo albums, Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’ and Man on the Moon III: The Chosen, then found the rapper battling his desolate “Mr. Rager” alter ego. Cudi’s 2018 Kanye West-assisted collaborative album Kids See Ghost found the “Tequila Shots” rapper making a creative breakthrough alongside his former friend and mentor. Swearing off his emo rapper title, Entergalactic sees Cudi taking the reins on his upbeat redirection to journey through tracks that celebrate his mental and emotional well-being, passion, and liberation.
The album collaborations include Ty Dolla Sign (“Willing to Trust,” “Can’t Shake Her”), 2 Chainz (“Can’t Believe It”), Don Toliver (“Somewhere to Fly,” “Burrow”), along with Steve Aoki and Cudi’s longtime producer Dot Da Genius. Guests on Entergalactic enhance the album’s affectionate nature, most notably being Ty Dolla Sign who flawlessly harmonizes with Cudi on “Willing to Trust.” On solo tracks, including standouts “New Mode,” “Do What I Want,” and “Ignite the Love,” Cudi is at his most energetic and spacey, giving fans Man on the Moon nostalgia. On “New Mode,” Kid Cudi sings “Finally got my head right, it’s a new me/It’s like I got heaven in my sights now, beauty I see.”
The animated anthology follows suit, with trippy, fluorescent visuals of two lovers floating in futuristic atmospheres, literally taking Entergalactic to deep space. The film isn’t Cudi’s first try at acting; he made his acting debut on former HBO series How to Make It in America and recently appeared in films like Don’t Look Up and X. With contributions as composer, co-writer, executive producer, and voice actor, Entergalactic reintroduces Cudi as a creative polymath.
Jabari (Cudi) settles into a new apartment months after a breakup with ex-girlfriend Carmen (Harrier). As an isolated and wired comic book artist whose claim to fame is his “Mr. Rager” character, Jabari jump-starts his profession at Cosmic Comics while encouraged to live out a bachelor lifestyle with his obscene stoner pals Ky (Ty Dolla Sign) and Jimmy (Chalamet). Jabari then develops a new crush on Meadow (Williams), a budding photographer on the cusp of a career breakthrough. Meadow and Jabari grow an affinity for each other as lovers and Black creatives. It’s a classic boy-meets-girl story where Jabari and Meadow are left with the decision of whether or not to take their mutual attraction to a committed stage.
Taking cues from 2018 gravity-defying Marvel film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Cudi flawlessly melds forward-thinking music with ultramodern animation. Music from Entergalactic complements the special’s vivid and planetary-inspired texture.
The project also serves as a love letter to Cudi’s fashion contemporaries KAWS (who also designed the rapper’s first Complex cover), and the late streetwear giant Virgil Abloh. Abloh’s influence appears throughout Entergalactic on graphic tees and a large “Icon” billboard with the Off-White designer’s likeness. Cudi and Abloh last collaborated on a 2020 Off-White tee, commemorating the rapper’s single “Leader of the Delinquents,” Cudi’s first solo track in four years. The film and album also premiered on Sept. 30, to honor what would have been Abloh’s 42nd birthday.
“Virgil has been a really huge inspiration for me,” Cudi told Netflix about the former Louis Vuitton artistic director. “He’s always been that big bro that I admired, and when it came time to do Entergalactic, I knew that, in order for us to have the freshness—the freshest level that I wanted—I had to hire someone who was just focused on wardrobe.”
Prior to his death in November 2021, Abloh became costume designer of the animated special, giving characters a custom, one-of-one flair that couldn’t be duplicated.
Although some fans might prefer Cudi’s wrathful artistry of the past, Entergalactic sets the tone on who the rapper is today—an artist who champions inner peace within himself and avid fans. The latest chapter of Cudi’s career arrives on the heels of his first greatest hits compilation, The Boy Who Flew to the Moon, Vol. 1, followed by his inaugural Moon Man’s Landing music festival in Cleveland last month.
Rather than recreating the gloominess that made him iconic in his own right, Cudi has reemerged with a positive spin on his otherworldly charisma. With Kid Cudi’s bona fide legacy entering a new chapter, Entergalactic initiates the rapper-actor’s furthering of his pursuit of happiness.