Kid Cudi, the self-dubbed “Man on the Moon,” is a Brooklyn-based rapper from Cleveland whose personal lyrical angles and innovative perspectives on production and genre combination made him one of the more influential talents of his time. Cudi quickly ascended in the late 2000s with a signing to Kanye West’s GOOD Music label for his quadruple-platinum 2009 debut Man on the Moon: The End of Day, which was boosted by his multi-platinum singles “Day ‘n’ Nite” and “Pursuit of Happiness.” With sophomore set Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, he went on to sell millions, winning Grammys and changing the landscape of hip-hop. His unique vocal style and dreamy instrumentals were calling cards of his sound, but he experimented constantly, with mid-2010s forays into alt rock (WZRD and Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven) and multiple collaborations, including a 2018 Kanye joint effort Kids See Ghosts. In 2020, he concluded his fan-favorite trilogy with the cosmic trap of Man on the Moon III: The Chosen. By 2022, he’d branched out into animated television with his romantic comedy Entergalactic, which was accompanied by an album of the same name. The features-heavy Insano appeared the following year.
Born Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi in suburban Cleveland, his career took off after he moved to Brooklyn and became affiliated with Fool's Gold, the label of DJs A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs. The label released the Day 'n' Nite EP in February 2008 and circulated a Crookers remix around the blogosphere, drumming up a good deal of buzz in the process. It didn’t hurt that Kid Cudi began to receive increasing press attention, including a nod from Rolling Stone (which touted him among the magazine’s Top Five best indie hip-hop artists of 2008). Not long after the release of “Day ‘n’ Nite,” Cudi began touring with the Fool's Gold collective, who performed at a South by Southwest showcase and subsequently joined forces with Steve Aoki and his Dim Mak collective for a North American tour.
After the remixed version of “Day ‘n’ Nite” climbed the U.K. singles charts, Cudi released his conceptual debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, in the summer of 2009. The critically-acclaimed effort peaked in the Top 4 on the U.S. charts and went multi-platinum. A year later he returned with a sequel, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, which shot to the top spot on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and was certified platinum. In 2012, he teamed with “Day ‘n’ Nite” producer Dot Da Genius and introduced their rock-rap band, WZRD. A year after that, Indicud arrived and included contributions from soft rock sisters HAIM and former Fleet Foxes drummer Father John Misty alongside rappers A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar.
In early 2014, Cudi surprised fans by releasing the next installment in his space odyssey with little warning. Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon, which featured a guest spot from Raphael Saadiq, was issued on February 25 on Wicked Awesome/Republic. The sprawling Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven followed in 2015 with a grunge-inspired rock sound much closer to the WZRD project. Just over a year later, Cudi returned to the rap world with Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin', which featured André 3000, Pharrell Williams, Travis Scott, and Willow Smith. The set peaked outside the Top Ten of the Billboard 200, while entering the Top Five of the R&B and rap charts.
Cudi kicked off 2018 with the Smashing Pumpkins-sampling “The Rage” from the soundtrack of the film Rampage. Months later, he joined longtime mentor and collaborator Kanye West to form the duo Kids See Ghosts. The pair issued the seven-track Kids See Ghosts in June as part of West’s Jackson Hole, Wyoming recording sessions for GOOD Music. The set featured appearances by Pusha T, Mos Def, and Ty Dolla $ign. In April 2020, Cudi returned with the solo single “Leader of the Delinquents,” a Dot Da Genius-produced track he’d first teased at a concert in 2012. April 2020 also saw the debut of THE SCOTTS, a duo of Cudi and Travis Scott, who came together over a gloomy trap instrumental on a song also called “The Scotts.” In addition, Cudi continued to work on an album titled Entergalactic, which would also serve as the soundtrack for an upcoming adult animated Netflix series of the same name. Before the end of 2020, Cudi released his seventh studio LP and the third installment of his Man on the Moon series, Man on the Moon III: The Chosen. The self-produced album was marked by polished, sometimes spacy instrumentals and included guest spots from Trippie Redd, Pop Smoke, Skepta, and indie songwriter Phoebe Bridgers. It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200.
In 2022, Cudi collected cuts from all of his major-label solo albums — including the WZRD project — onto the sprawling greatest-hits set The Boy Who Flew to the Moon, Vol. 1. He closed out the year with the award-winning Entergalactic, an animated romantic comedy featuring the voice talents of Cudi himself, alongside Ty Dolla $ign, Timothée Chalamet, Vanessa Hudgens, and more. The movie was soundtracked by an album of the same name, which featured production by Dot da Genius, Plain Pat, and Take a Daytrip. Just a year later, Cudi delivered Insano, his final effort for Republic. The set included the single “Porsche Topless” and featured a slew of guest spots, including Travis Scott, Lil Yachty, Wiz Khalifa, A$AP Rocky, and Pharrell Williams. ~ Neil Z. Yeung & Jason Birchmeier