10 Best Kid Cudi Songs

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By Max Mertens and Ian Servantes
Take a look at the best of the best from Kid Cudi, one of modern hip-hop's most creative, iconic and influential artists.
The impact of Kid Cudi should not be understated. Not only has the Cleveland rapper influenced a whole crop of musicians, including (but not limited to) Travis Scott, Kanye West, Childish Gambino, Tyler, The Creator, Jhene Aiko and more, he’s been an inspiration for an even larger generation. Cudder has been in his feels for us all to hear for a decade, providing comfort, assurance, and relief for anyone going through tough times. Saturday Night Live comedian Pete Davidson, who lost his father when he was a child, perhaps described the Cudi’s impact the best when he said: “He saved my life. I would have killed myself without if I didn’t have Kid Cudi. If you’re 25 and under, I truly believe Kid Cudi saved your life.”
After admitting his struggles with depression and anxiety in a Facebook message to fans in fall 2016, and checking into rehab, he re-emerged last year healthier and more creatively inspired than ever. He teamed up with frequent collaborator West to form Kids With Ghosts, and they released their debut album of the same title. With Cudi hinting at a new record in 2019 and his recent Coachella performances, there’s no better time to take a look at some of his best songs.

1. “Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)”

The sequel to “Ghost Town” off West’s 2018 album ye, “Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)” is the Kids See Gost duo at their most joyous, and proved they’re stronger together than divided. “You should quit your job to this” indeed.

2. "Baptized in Fire"

Travis Scott has never shied away from stanning Kid Cudi, and this Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’ cut unites mentor and mentee. The former’s haunting production is just begging for his dark, wary elder to hop on. Cudi is as morose as ever with lines like “You don’t love Scott, you love Kid Cudi,” but he also leaves room for the more playful “Three-piece suit and I’m looking so cute.”

3. "Heaven at Nite"

Before he’d officially work with them, Brooklyn electronic duo Ratatat provided several excellent jumping off points for Cudi. In this case it was “Tacobel Cannon” that sent Cudder off espousing the freedom of his dreams. It’s a great escape for someone troubled so heavily by his thoughts, but also for a self-professed outsider, someone who needs more than what the world can give him and sees beyond what it can show.

4. "Cudderisback"

It’s hard to separate Kid Cudi’s take on indie faves Vampire Weekend’s “Ottomon” with the impromptu Jason Goldwatch-directed music video that accompanies it. It’s a casual check-in with the fans to let them know he’s still the same Cudder with the same jeans, old converse and Bape tees. Fame hasn’t changed him, even if every little thing he does might make it in the paper, and it doesn’t matter who he dates. Cudi hasn’t ever sounded more playful, and he looks outright blissful while celebrating his success in a nice ass hotel with a heap of weed.

5. "Mojo So Dope"

Defiance can never have too many anthems. Or too many catch phrases, for that matter. Cudi drops quotable after quotable and could practically start a cult based off “Give a fuck about your lifestyle, give a fuck about a motherfuckin’ lifestyle.” But instead of some puritan, controlling agenda, it’d be based off of raging.

6. "Soundtrack 2 My Life"

“Soundtrack 2 My Life” may as well be the mission statement for Cudi’s debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, and the career that’s followed. He draws a line between him and his uber-cool peers — “Wish I was Jigga man, carefree livin” — and outlines a truncated biography that includes a lonely childhood, drug-fuelled soul searching and a sense of being from another world. The joyous soundscape of Emile Haynie’s spacey production may seem strange when juxtaposed with such sorrow, but there’s a real high in catharsis.

7. "The Prayer"

Kid Cudi turned a Band of Horses sample and a children’s prayer into one of his most affecting songs to date. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate his sense of purpose. Mortality has plagued Cudi’s thoughts for eons, but he’s been at peace with it since a surprisingly young age.

8. "Day ‘N’ Nite"

This is where it all began. An artist’s breakout single can eventually become a burden for them and tired for the day one fans, but you can’t overlook its impact. “Day ‘N’ Nite” introduced the world to the lonely stoner, the space-obsessed young man tortured by the death of his father when he was just a child. Kid Cudi’s vulnerability has long been a warming embrace for his fans, an assurance that they’re not alone in their woes. “Day ‘N’ Nite” (and the accompanying Crookers remix) was that first outreach of his arms.

9. "Mr. Rager"

Mr. Rager is an alter ego just as necessary for Scott Mescudi as he is for us. Unbound by earthly shackles, he’s off on a journey cryptic enough for anyone to project their own destination. Cudi himself has said the song was inspired by a more destructive mind state, but Mr. Rager’s chaos doesn’t have to be so catastrophic. Sometimes you have to be a little disruptive to get where you need to be. It’s an intoxicating message, an inspiring decree, made only more enticing by the march of Haynie’s production.

10. "Pursuit Of Happiness"

The quintessential Kid Cudi song is a moment of triumph and melancholy. Along with MGMT and Ratatat, the latter of whom influenced A Kid Named Cudi heavily, Cudder created an anthem for dreamers who don’t shy away from acknowledging the toughness of the road. The end goal is elusive in the pursuit of happiness — and who knows if Kid Cudi, or any of us, has ever fully captured it — so it’s vital to enjoy the ride and scream “fuck that” to anyone who tries to slow your roll.