Kid Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness": The Creation Story - DJBooth

Kid Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness" Beat Was Created While He Drove to Ratatat's House

“He’s, like, literally in a car on his way over and I’m feeling around the keyboard.”
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Sometimes, serendipity is all you need to create a classic track. For producer E.VAX of Ratatat, it was the magic of spontaneity and urgency that helped him craft the beat for Kid Cudi’s staple “Pursuit of Happiness.”

“We had just done a long tour in Europe, and we came home and they were just like, ‘Oh, you gotta play beats for Cudi tomorrow,’” E.VAX told Genius. “This is my first time playing beats for a real rapper that’s gonna have a record out, so I gotta do something quick. He’s, like, literally in a car on his way over and I’m feeling around the keyboard and I had a sound that I created on that keyboard. I was like, ‘Maybe I could do something with this?’ Basically as fast as possible, laid that down and then the doorbell rings. Instantly, he heard that beat and was like, ‘Oh, yeah.’”

Considering “Pursuit of Happiness” is Kid Cudi’s most popular song to this day, and has gone 4x Platinum, it’s safe to say that things worked out fairly well for all parties involved. Of course, there is no right way to create a classic song, but there is a lot to be said about the positive impact of soft deadlines and following your gut.

Certain artists thrive when they abandon their pursuit of perfection to make a record that sets them free, and other artists need to labor over an instrumental for a year or more. While there is no clear-cut method to make an enduring record, the good news is, there is no decided wrong way, either. 

“Pursuit of Happiness” is a classic because Kid Cudi is bare and open, and though the beat was made in a pinch, it was the organic quality of the music that allowed it to age so well.

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