“I hope they understand that I really understand that they don’t understand…”
In 2015, we’ve encountered a lot of disgust and abrasive reactions towards different controversial and taboo lifestyles. The biggest example of national disgust was with Rachel Dolezal, a Caucasian woman who decided to be African-American for her own lifestyle purposes. Rachel caused the whole nation to spark up the conversation of “change”; who is allowed to change and what is appropriate change to be exact (I’m not defending Ms. Dolezal, I honestly believe that everyone should be true to themselves in their own skin). We were so pissed off at Rachel that we coined the term “Transracial”, which is when you change your race to make life easier or more interesting for you, in simplest terms.
When Kid Cudi arrived on the music scene back in 2008 with his debut mixtape titled A Kid Named Cudi, we all embraced the “lonely stoner” for his emotional, raw and catchy music. 7 years, 1 mixtape, 4 albums, and 1 collab album with Dot Da Genius later, I find that majority of Kid Cudi’s original fans aren’t vibing with his new punk-rock sound. They are treating him as if he is Transmusical, a phrase that I made up myself to describe this unique situation (in my short 20-something years of life, I haven’t experienced a whole bunch of rappers turned rockers).
When an artist decides to switch up his musical sound, leaving his fans either astounded or offended.
Example:Transmusical is when an artist started off asking NOT to be put in a musical box (like Cudi requested) but fans automatically put the artist in a box (Kid Cudi always said he was an ARTIST, but people didn’t listen and coined him as just a rapper) and the artist does what he/she already planned on doing (such as Kid Cudi exploring and venturing off into new sounds) while the fans reject him as if he is a poser (such as old fans rejecting his rock tracks like “Confused” and “Judgemental Cunt”).
As an avid Kid Cudi listener and fan, his transition into punk-rock was a little shocking to me, but I understood the sudden switch. However, I became upset with internet comments (like the ones tagged to “Judgemental Cunt” on his Soundcloud) towards Cudi such as “God this song is terrible” and “need old Cudi back” when he released his new music. I thought to myself, “Kid Cudi is still everyone’s big brother, but now he’s singing and is playing the guitar, what’s the big deal?!”. Instead of writing out a long, opinionated piece on why I think Kid Cudi’s change is healthy, necessary and premeditated (he’s been hinting at his rock and roll switch for years now throughout his music, social media posts, and tattoos), I decided to take my frustration to my fellow Facebook friends in NYC and abroad to ask them two simple questions:
Why is it hard for you to accept Kid Cudi’s new sound?
When is change acceptable for a music artist?
Check out the answers, my conclusion, and 2 of Cudi’s latest songs below!
(All participants names are initialed)
S.M., 24, NYC (Photographer):┬áTo answer the first question, it kind of feels like a step back. Like I’m re-entering high school and there’s new emo music but from a rapper. Change is acceptable whenever they want to change. Their lives influence their music…life in general influences music. An artist can change their sound when it feels right for them.
K.D.,20, ATL (Journalist):┬áIt’s hard to accept it because “the old Cudi” had calming beats that was accompanied by his voice, his new sound is more rock-ish and loud. I do still believe an artist can change their sound whenever they like, because it’s their art, but will their fans follow? Probably not, but at the end of the day it’s about their happiness. Can’t guarantee I’ll still be listening though.
A.J.,23,NYC (Upcoming Music Artist):┬áWhat makes it hard for me is that I’m a true Punk Rock fan. When I listen to this new Cudi stuff, I don’t really believe him. It’s like when Pharrell decided he wanted to do N.E.R.D, he didn’t have to change his accent or his dialect. When I listened to the new Cudi, it’s like I’m listening to a different person but at the same time, I see no growth. It’s like someone who’s been saying the same things for years, but they found a different voice. What I respect about artists is that they have the same voice, but they grow and their music evolves. That’s not something that I can say about Kid Cudi, from Man On The Moon to his new projects. It’s like he expects his audience to stay miserable.
Change is acceptable when you evolve tastefully, meaning that you’re inspired by something, but you still remain yourself. I may be inspired by rock music, or country music, or punk music or whatever, but as a kid from NYC, I still grew up on Nas and Jay Z, so even when if I get on a punk rock song, you could still tell that I’m a kid from New York.
J.R.,20,ATL (Upcoming Music Producer):┬áI think its hard for me to accept his new sound because even though he’s always had a way with having multiple unique sounds on one project, whether it goes from a psychedelic sound to a hip hop sound, it was a mixture. These songs are just rock n roll themed which is not wrong but subconsciously we all put an artist under this stigma in which they must remain how they entered.
Change is acceptable in music at anytime, it’s not something you can really time, you know? We as consumers have to remember that these artist are not robots and they have their own lives that they have to deal with besides creating music. The music is sometimes a reflection of where that person was or is in their life, so to fully not accept a project from an artist you’re familiar with it is kinda like not acknowledging the change within that person who created it.
As an artist though I feel like because you know people easily categorize you and your music, if you know you’re about to do something entirely different from anything you’ve ever done, baby step us into your new world. Go feature on a genre that resembles your new work or have snippets of your music out. Fuck it. With all this social media let people know like “hey you guys are not going to even recognize this shit I’m cooking up. Stay tuned”.
The bottom line is, fans may not agree with Kid Cudi’s new punk-rock sound, but they all genuinely admitted to knowing that they have no control over when it is OK for an artist to change their musical style. Musical change is something that comes from within the artist, ┬áand while fans may feel abandoned or deceived by a sound that is so foreign from the original music that they are accustomed to hearing, they have no choice but to follow the artist along for the ride or to jump ship and wish the artist good luck. I believe that Kid Cudi’s punk rock tunes will make sense to everyone years from now (his first album was considered “weird” but is now considered a classic) or once he is deceased. But, right now, Cudi is still misunderstood and unfuckwittable, just like he always was and will be.
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