It's not a term often used, but it applies: Kid Cudi, strange and offbeat, is a kook. Last night (March 22) the alt-hip-hop singer/rapper extended his fall "Cud Life Tour" for a set in Brooklyn's Barclays Center. A few shows from the tour were cancelled and rescheduled due to illness.
"I missed you motherfuckers something terrible," Cudi said upon arrival, clad in what he's dubbed his "Satellite Academy Space Suit." The matte grey neck-to-toe 'fit is something of a variant to Iron Man’s uniform. The stage, though, was set up like Superman's Fortress of Solitude, a frigid prickly cave for a lost man with a lot on his mind to fully plunge into his thoughts.
It was fitting, considering Cudi is an underdog turned unlikely hero. In 2008 he released his "A Kid Named Cudi" mixtape, one that ushered in hip-hop's melodic heart on sleeve, fears on forehead era —before Kanye West blew it wide open with "808s & Heartbreak" and Drake crafted his career around it. Still, Cudi has remained a bit of a sub-pop star. He keeps a core fan base strong enough to pack all but the upper bowl in Barclays, but not strong enough to make him a mainstay on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
To be fair, it appears he's just fine with where he's at on the pop spectrum—off in space, crooning the lonely off their respective ledges.
The top of his set included "A Kid Named Cudi's" "Down and Out." "I be like me, Mr. K-i-d S-o-l-o D-o-l-o," he sang. "Down and out, so I'm out and down and looking for a substance to drown in." It's an odd gift Cudi has: The ability to corral and uplift loners with his words.
"I've got some issues that nobody can see/ And all of these emotions are pouring out of me/ I bring them to the light for you," he groaned when performing "Soundtrack 2 My Life." Cudi closed the song with a brief story about his addiction to cocaine.
"I used to do so much coke I couldn't feel my face," Cudi shared with Brooklyn. The period Cudi was referring to was around 2010. He was trying to hit high notes on the title track on his "Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager" album. But he couldn't. So he quit and tried the song again months later. "Mr. Raaaaaager," he wailed to the crowd. "Say no to coke!" he said emphatically, with a hint of humor.
The mood of the concert switched from dark to uplifting just then, first with the seductive "Balmain Jeans," from his latest release "Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon." It's a prelude to 2015’s "Man On The Moon" trilogy capper. "I don't know how sexy I can be in this space suit," Cudi joked.
The crowd was then treated to an appearance from Harlem-native A$AP Rocky for his verse on "Brothers." "I'm so happy to be alive," Cudi said, before belting out that he's "feelin’ alright" on "Cudi Zone."
"Pursuit of Happiness" came next. It was followed by the David Guetta-produced cut "Memories," which featured Cudi cheerfully doing robot dances. The show was a 90-minute trip, one that ended awkwardly. When Cudi left the stage, the audience expected an encore. He hadn't performed a proper version of his lone hit, "Day N' Nite," opting instead for a few moments of its clubby Crookers remix.
"We want Cudi," they chanted. The stage lights flickered, teasing his return. After five minutes, a voice rang throughout the arena. However, it was that of a Barclays staff member, requesting that everyone go home. The party was done. The odd man was out.