Kid Cudi’s “Frequency” Video Shines a Light on His Dark Depression

Like "Avatar," Cudi is a wounded soldier in search of a new life.
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Like "Avatar," Cudi is a wounded soldier in search of a new life.

As a once proud stan who counts Man on the Moon II in his top five, it hurt me to admit that Kid Cudi hit rock bottom creatively on last year’s Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven. I don’t care what André 3000 says; that shit was not good.

However, there was a glimmer of hope earlier this year when, following his angelic appearances on Kanye West’s “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” and “Waves,” Cudi returned to form with “Frequency.” The psychedelic vibe, the melodic delivery and Plain Pat on production; Kid Cudi was back.

“[Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven] made me realize what’s most important,” he toldBillboard shortly after the single’s release. “I’m getting back on the bike again and doing what I do best: me.”

Last night, Cudi’s management released the official video for “Frequency,” his first music video in three years, and his first release since checking into rehab for “depression and suicidal urges.” Directed by Cudi himself, the five-minute clip is a weird and wonderful watch featuring oversized mushrooms, trance-like dancing, and a threesome scene. But more importantly, it shines a light on Kid Cudi’s dark mental state.

On the surface, it’s easy to draw a straight line between Cudi’s depression and the gloomy, druggy vibe of the video. The way the camera shifts in and out of focus towards the end could be a nod to the “Heart-Shaped Box” video by Nirvana, whom Cudi has previously cited as a major influence. And the sex scene? Well, a “couple girls make a n*gga feel less alone.”

When you piece together the surreal atmosphere, the mysterious women covered in body paint and jewelry, and a shirtless protagonist wandering the rainforest, you can’t help but think of Avatar. A paraplegic marine leading a new life in a new world, the underlying theme of escapism that left some viewers depressed and suicidal; it’s reminiscent of Cudi’s Facebook post, in which he spoke about “living a lie”—pretending to be free and happy, when in reality, he’s a wounded soldier.

It’s not hard to see why Kid Cudi wants to escape. We’re just glad he’s trying to leave his demons—not himself—behind.