Don't call Kid Cudi a rapper anymore.
That's the message the Cleveland artist sent at iTunes just before the weekend in reference to his latest album, Speedin Bullet 2 Heaven, being designated a hip-hop/rap release on the online store. In a series of tweets, Cudi asserted that a digital booklet that was supposed to be included was not and that his new album had been "forcefully labeled" before giving listeners instructions on how to manually change it in their libraries.
Althought Cudi entered the entertainment world as a rapper with his first two Man on the Moon albums, the mercurial star has strayed further and further from the genre with each subsequent unveiling, seemingly actively trying to break away from those who rocked with his early work and wanted him to produce more of the same. Anyone who took even a brief listen to his latest project can attest to the fact that Speedin Bullet 2 Heaven is anything but a rap album. The Twitter rant that doesn't even mention the fact his album leaked a week ahead of its release date comes just over a week after Cudder canceled his tour after one stop due to "personal and production issues"
If the missing booklet, cancelled tour and unorganized labeling of the album were all out of whack, you have to question the team the artist has put around him. Having helped in album releases myself, these aren't complicated decisions, and the fact that an artist with label backing couldn't pull it all together speaks to where he's at in his career.
This makes me thing of Rick Reilly's final column on the back page of Sports Illustrated back in 2008. In the piece, Reilly writes about a professor he had in college who told him he was a good enough writer to cover more than sports. His reply was that he was good enough to be a sportwriter, the subject didn't dictate the title. Lately, we've seen a sort of ambivalence from artists referred to as rappers, a sentiment Childish Gambino often played on early in his career tongue-in-cheek, but one that speak to the connotations of what a rapper is and can be. It's why I love that Chance The Rapper makes the music he does, opening the ideas of what the second half of his title can emobdy. For his part, Cudi seems determined to run away from the genre that birthed him, the real question is what is he running towards?
[By Jake Krez, who thought that album was pretty terrible. You can follow him on Twitter.]