What’s Going On: “A Man Named Scott: The Kid Cudi Story”

In this week’s very special edition of What’s Going On, we’re looking at the recent music doc A Man Named Scott. For anyone that has heard the name Kid Cudi but isn’t familiar with his story or his sound, A Man Named Scott is a comprehensive deep-dive into the ins and outs of the hugely influential rapper. Released in November 2021, the Amazon Original documentary takes viewers on a journey spanning over a decade, starting with his 2008 debut single that took the world by storm, “Day ‘n’ Nite,” and moving through the rest of his varied discography.

In A Man Named Scott you hear from Kid Cudi himself as well as his peers, friends, collaborators, music industry veterans, artists he’s influenced, and clinical psychologists. With plenty of on-stage footage, behind-the-scenes moments, and even highly stylized contemporary dance presentations sprinkled throughout, A Man Named Scott is an engaging watch. With Kid Cudi recently announcing that he plans to drop two albums in 2022, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with his story.

The documentary really shines in its heavy moments. You see Kid Cudi struggle with the weight of fame and success, his sudden loss of anonymity, and having to deal with intrusive interviewers. The vulnerable and almost confessional-style nature of his lyrics that won him so many fans also opened the door for people to feel comfortable asking him deeply personal questions and projecting their own troubles onto him. Seeing current day Kid Cudi reflect on his struggles not only demonstrates his growth but also endears watchers to Scott Mescudi, the man behind the music and moniker.

You also hear from the artists that Kid Cudi has influenced not just through his sound and lyrical content, but also his style choices. Willow Smith, Jaden Smith, Lil Yachty, and ASAP Rocky are among the younger voices that appear, talking about how much they’ve been impacted by Cudi. And not just musically, with Academy Award-nominated actor Timothée Chalamet proclaiming: “Isn’t it ironic that in a genre that is about impenetrability and bravado in the face of pain that the one that would have transcended in that confrontation of ego and competition would be the one that was the least about how big his chain was or how hard his beats slapped but was the guy that was like, hey I’m human and this is what I go through.” It also spends a considerable amount of time on the unlikely friendship between Kid Cudi and actor Shia LeBeouf, which doesn’t feel super integral to the telling of Cudi’s story but whatever.

When people look back at Kid Cudi in years to come, they’ll remember him as an artist that left an indelible mark on culture and a whole generation of creatives that followed in his footsteps. For one of the hottest rappers in the game to follow up his first two platinum albums by forming the alternative psychedelic rock outfit WZRD, you can see how this current emo and pop-punk resurgence largely being fronted by young Black hip-hop acts can be traced directly back to Kid Cudi’s bravery in messing around with different sounds. Even more importantly, A Man Named Scott beautifully lays out how Kid Cudi’s vulnerability inspired a generation of performers to feel comfortable baring their souls.

A Man Named Scott is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

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