A [Renaissance] Man on the Moon / by Alex Hersh


Scott Mescudi started his career as a rapper, developed into an experimental musician, and is now continuing his career as an actor. While it is easy to label him as one or another, and hold him to that definitive standard, he fits all of these terms at the same time, making him simply an artist. Art is created and consumed in all forms, and Cudi is a member of the small few, along with prominent rappers Common and Mos Def, who are multidimensional in the same way. It is these Renaissance men that act as the catalyst for the artistic development and change we want and need to see in 2015.

Cudi is different in his approach and exemplification of the modern Renaissance man, however, because of his unique ability to navigate across a spectrum of genres in both music and film. To the untrained ear, Cudi’s smooth, rhythmic, and relatable “Man on the Moon: The End of Day” would sound like it was the work of an entirely different artist in comparison to his obtuse, far-out, rock and roll thrashing sounds on his 2012 album “WZRD”. While this level of development represents the growth and progression that truly marks a successful artist, the media, culture, and industry as a whole can’t process the growth in the same way. Those fortunate enough to burn under the strength of the limelight are traditionally placed into one category, and expected to stay there for the duration of their career. Unfortunately, that’s not always how art[people]ists work, and it is important for fans and consumers to understand that these artists are human, and are subject to the same change that will affect you throughout your life. How can we as a culture be so hypocritical to praise an artist for ability, but refuse that artist the opportunity to grow from that?

With his first serious, leading role as Domingo Brown, Cudi blazed a path for himself in the acting world on HBO’s series “How To Make It In America”. This later opened the doors that would allow him to take roles in movies such as Need for Speed, and his current role in Sundance film, “James White”, which boasts a successful Kickstarter campaign and was created by Borderline Films. While Cudi’s quantity of roles doesn’t mirror the filmography of his renaissance counterparts, his most recent character is arguably the most progressive and inarguably peerless. Playing the role of a closeted gay man, Cudi received a lot of press recently in regards to his interview with Billboard about the deleted male on male kissing scenes. Disappointed in their removal, Cudi had no qualms about playing the part, describing in the interview, "No. My thing is what story are we trying to tell here," Cudi told Billboard. "I didn't flinch. I'm secure with mine. I'm an artist -- it's all about playing characters that are intriguing and stimulating.” As an artist with experience in the rap industry, Cudi has first hand understanding of the stigma that surrounds homosexuality, and the affect that it could possibly have on his career. Basically scoffing at the thought of consequence, Cudi took a step in the direction of shrinking that close-minded attitude that so harshly presents itself in hip-hop culture.

With plans to get back together with the same production collective of the Man on the Moon series, Kid Cudi will have travelled full circle to the genre that allowed him the success and opportunity he exercises today, to complete the final and long-awaited installation, Man on the Moon III. For a man that was criticized and nearly shunned for his musical endeavors after MOTM II, Scott Mescudi is hopping back into his first box on his own accord, rather than in the interest of anyone else but his true fans.

We need to follow more artists. We need to pay attention to the people who create not because it will score fame or material success, but who inspire and provoke thought. We need to praise those who work to represent reality over universality, and neglect those who are indifferent to change and growth and biased to profit. We must respect artists not only for who they are, but who they were and will be in the future. We are fortunate enough to have a strong influence on who we bestow with almighty popularity, and it is until we use it that we will continue to see the same, underdeveloped, art and entertainment that defines our popular culture today.