By Michael Yu, Nov. 16, 2021
Ever since Kid Cudi’s musical career was set in motion in 2009, he has been public about his struggles with mental health and the documentary “A Man Named Scott” serves as a behind-the-scenes look at his life behind the fame.
Directed by Robert Alexander, “A Man Named Scott” utilizes gorgeous visuals and compelling storytelling as an intimate and powerful look into Cudi’s life and his long search for inner peace.
The first segment of the documentary is devoted to detailing the making of Cudi’s debut album, “Man on the Moon: The End of Day” and the impact it has had on the artists of today.
Contributors to the album such as Dot da Genius, Emile Haynie and Plain Pat shared through interviews how unafraid Cudi was to push boundaries and experiment during the making of the album.
When the album was released in 2009, it was unafraid to confront topics such as depression and anxiety. The album was an outlier in a genre that is usually dominated by bravado and tough personalities. It is an extremely influential album even 12 years later, with Rolling Stone naming it in the 500 greatest albums of all-time.
However, this heavy focus on the first “Man on the Moon” album ends up hurting the overall pacing of the documentary. With so much time spent on that one album and its development, other albums such as “Satellite Flight” and “Indicud” are either not mentioned at all, or are quickly glossed over, making the documentary feel rushed or cut down to fit its runtime.
The documentary shifts focus onto Cudi’s mental health struggles. The glamorous gold room that was used in the previous segment is now replaced with a barren and dark room in Italy, visually representing the shift in tone and subject matter. Cudi divulged details about his battle with cocaine addiction, chronic depression and the pressure he faced from being the voice for a new generation.
Accompanied by a somber piece of performance art starring Jaden Smith, this segment is an emotional and effective look into the toll fame can have on a person. Smith’s performance helps to add extra gravitas to the already heavy subject matter.
The documentary ends on a positive note, showing Cudi, who has grown stronger from his past experiences. He reflects on how going through rehab and then making the 2018 collaborative album “Kids See Ghosts” with artist Kanye West helped him reach a better place. He said, ““I have no desire to make more dark records. That chapter is done. I just hope that fans can see I’m finally — that Scott is finally — in a better place.”
Throughout the documentary other celebrities like Willow Smith, Lil Yatchy, Shia LaBeouf and Timothée Chalamet speak out about their experiences with Cudi and how his music has impacted them through one-on-one interviews.
From LaBeouf recalling a trip he took to Amsterdam with Cudi to Lil Yatchy sharing how Kid Cudi’s music helped him embrace himself, the interviews help bring fresh perspectives to the documentary.
However, with the appearance of so many guests, the documentary loses its focus at times. Although the guests offer a unique perspective, the focus on Cudi’s journey is sometimes taken off course due to the sheer amount of them.
“A Man Named Scott,” is an endearing look into the life and struggles of Kid Cudi not just as an artist but also as a person. It is a documentary that manages to be as creative, introspective and distinct as Cudi himself. Despite its pacing issues and occasional lack of focus, it is an enthralling look into the career highs and emotional lows of one of hip-hop’s most influential artists.
Graphic courtesy of Justin Oo.
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