MCs To Watch In 2009: Kid Cudi

'I'm just, like, a regular guy. I'm not into the whole fame of things,' down-to-earth rapper says.

In a day and age when everyone wants their 15 seconds of fame, it’s odd that someone would want to shy away from it. “I’m just a regular guy.” Actually, that’s the cliché, rock-star thing to say, but [artist id="3066140"]Kid Cudi[/artist] sounds sincere.

In the past year, thanks to his song “Day ‘N’ Night,” Cudi has blown up. The song is played almost everywhere — you hear it in dance clubs, on your cousin’s MySpace page, hip-hop radio stations, pop stations and nearly every music blog. It’s garnered him the attention of hip-hop’s biggest star, Kanye West, who signed him to his G.O.O.D. Music label. However, Cudi said that wasn’t his biggest accomplishment.

“I think the biggest accomplishment so far with me is none of my — what they call — ‘hype’ is gimmicky or forced,” he explained. “I didn’t beat into the heads of people, like, ‘Yo, you’re going to listen to my music, and you’re going to do this and you’re going to do that.’ I just kind of put them out and let them breathe.”

According to Cudi, everything that happened on the Internet was purely organic — he didn’t even own his own computer until recently. In a day and age when everyone uses a computer, that’s pretty unique.

Cudi’s friend and producer, O Dot, posted songs to his MySpace that they made in the basement, and the two would gauge people’s reactions. In fact, “Day ‘N’ Night” wasn’t the song that they thought was their big hit.

“We eventually came up with a record that’s out now, called ‘Dat New New.’ We were just like, ‘Aww man, this is the new joint! This is it. This is the new single,’ ” Cudi said. While they received good feedback on that song, it wasn’t until they posted “Day ‘N’ Night” that he knew he had something.

Buzz started building, but not immediately — the sound’s success was a slow burn. “It’s very different and people don’t get it, so it takes them awhile for them to process it,” he offered. But the more they heard the song, the more infectious it became — in fact, he was scared that the song was too infectious, and he began to question himself.

“Am I going to live up to the hype of ‘Day ‘N’ Night’? Will people just immediately write me off if I just make one wack record?” The pressure of the record had him in a slump, and he was also wary of his rising star power.

“It’s hard to make that transition, because I’m just, like, a regular guy. I’m not into the whole fame of things, so I talk about the stuff I deal with internally in my world in hopes that people can relate to that, and it’ll touch them.”

It took awhile for him to understand that he was being recognized for his talent and not just for having the “it” song. “I was, like, you know what? I’m being recognized for my gift and not just a song, and I need to go in and give people what it really is.”

It seems to be paying off. A fan came up to him after a recent performance with encouraging words. “This one dude came up to me and said, ‘Yo, you changed my life. Your song changed my life.’ That’s all he said, and he walked away. That’s the reward for me.”

Also check out Asher Roth , Wale , B.o.B. and Charles Hamilton in our “MCs to Watch in ’09″ series.