We’re happy we heard Kid Cudi’s “A Kid Named Cudi” before we read the embarrassing account of him getting tasered last weekend in Phoenix during NBA All-Star weekend. It’s not that we would like his music less, we would just be distracted with the nattering image of someone so set on wearing his Jordans to a marketing event of Nike’s direct competitor that he was willing to get electrocuted. The image is so absurd that the mind struggles to mythologize: But Jordans aren’t Scotland and Kid Cudi isn’t Braveheart, so it plays like a Rodney Dangerfield bit instead. And though we really don’t care how artists act, “A Kid Named Cudi” is composed with such serious knowledge of music that a clownish act like that is hard to attribute to it’s creator. (Mental note: file under more proof that artists don’t imitate their art)
Our intention here at DB/DO is not to write reviews of music: there are so many people who do that already, some of them well (see blogroll). We entered a period two-or-so years ago where we began to feel old and believed this first part was based on the fact that we weren’t liking most of the music we were hearing. The electronic music coming out felt like a direct assault on the music we cherished for most of our early lives: it had no depth but the institutions that we thought would rally against it were becoming engulfed by it. We waited for someone to say that it was all shit, that a lot of cocaine use was going on in the circles that perpetrated it, and that it was all a mistake. At the same time, the bands who believed they were “making a statement” against this electro rise, were making music that intentionally sounded bad. And because a lot of people were starting to feel the same way that we did at the time, bands that now do not know how to tune their guitars are touring all around the country under ridiculously strange sobriquets– each night they play to a bunch of nihilistic shitheads who’ve added to the cultural collapse. The channels get flooded with gunk; there’s too much information; most of it sucks.
It wasn’t to recently that we had an awakening, a rebirth of our self-esteem: of our natural right to criticize and not like things. With this insight, we realized it wasn’t that we were getting old– we just hated most of the “indie” music that we were hearing. The bar on what was considered quality dropped substantially, coke or no coke. People with no knowledge of the canon that preceded them took the insecurity of being ignorant and turned it, rather transparently, into an assault on given canon. We praise musicians who “know their music” because not knowing is the accepted norm.
A Kid Named Codi pats the person who is feeling old on the back. Reaffirms that it isn’t you, that most music sucks out there and someone has to do something to save it. The careful usage of rare(r) R&B samples, which is now an old trick among even semi-literate producers, is not what separates Cudi from the other mix-tape DJ/Rappers out there. Cudi has given credit to the canon, has spent time exploring other genres in a way that most indie rock artists refuse to do. Band of Horses “The Funeral” serves as the skeletal system on “The Prayer”; Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” is playfully revamped into “50 Ways To Make a Record”.
Like a lot of people who make music a large part of their life, we have tendencies to define ourselves within strict guidelines that are unspoken and predominately bullshit. Hearing albums like Cudi makes us want to return to a pre-snob, pre-self important state : to schoolyards and Hot 97 on Friday nights and Beatles anthologies. To anything that was good that came our way with out made-up pretense blurring our vision.