Kid Cudi came onto the scene in 2009 and took us into space with the catchy, and sometimes quite deep, lyrics contained within his debut album Man on the Moon: The End of Day. Since then, Cudi has been a rapper you can rely on for honest, contemplative, and sometimes downright sad lyrics about life and mental health. So in this article, I’m going to provide you with my list of the best Kid Cudi songs that offer listeners both chill vibes and, sometimes, dark sensibilities as well.
The Best Kid Cudi Songs That You’ll Love
Let’s begin with a song off Cudi’s debut mixtape entitled “The Prayer.”
15) “The Prayer” (2008)
This song was released on the 2008 album A Kid Named Cudi, a debut mixtape produced by Plain Pat. This mixtape is what launched Cudi’s famous “Day ‘n’ Nite” and “Man on the Moon” songs. These songs were hidden gems that slowly made their way onto MySpace to future Kid Cudi fans.
In “The Prayer,” Kid Cudi brings up themes of his death. He is trying to express how he wants to be remembered for his unique songs, and not about the materialistic part of him before he dies. He wants to accomplish a lot with his rapping career; he is grateful for the support of his fans.
The instrumentals for this song are very relaxing but also contain a very flowy beat. When listening to this song, like many Kid Cudi songs, it’s hard not to sing along with it. I like this song because the lyrics are crisp and very easy to follow and understand. It is an older Kid Cudi song, but it is still worth listening to. Like most songs by Cudi, there is a message in it, hidden under nice beats and mellow melodies.
14) “Reborn” ft. Kayne West (2018)
The song “Reborn” was included on the album Kids See Ghosts, a debut studio album. The album was named after Kayne and Cudi’s group duo dynamic Kids See Ghosts. It contained a variety of West and Cudi songs, featuring other artists like Pusha T, Louis Prima, Ty Dolla $ign, and Yasiin Bey.
If you are looking for a song about an internal journey of mental health, then this song is for you. The song is about the idea of being reborn and starting a new life after reflection. The “rebirth” is from overcoming troubles of mental illness and using that to continue pushing forward. Both artists endured a spiritual journey through pain, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
To go along with this theme of overcoming obstacles, the beginning of the song starts with lingering piano keys and opens up with Kid Cudi’s vocals. Almost instantly, I feel otherworldly, listening to a perfect combination of the instrumentals and vocals.
There is a theme of progressing with your life in this song. It is so ingrained in us to not dwell on the past or make ourselves suffer. We can only move forwards and learn from our mistakes; soon enough the storm will disappear and we will overcome it. This song is the perfect representation of the transformation from being down and out, to rising above it all.
13) “Solo Dolo (Nightmare)” (2009)
Released in 2009 on Kid Cudi’s album Man on the Moon: The End of the Day, this song has a slow tempo with an eerie feel to it. The instrumental for this song is a sample of “The Traitor” by Menahan Street Band and gives this song its unique sound.
The message in this song is about coming to terms with living in loneliness. Rather than be upset that he is alone, Kid Cudi comes to terms with it, calling himself “Mr. Solo Dolo.” The song focuses on Kid Cudi’s feelings of being alone and how he escapes through his dreams. The “Nightmare” title of this song comes from the 2nd act of his album, focusing on night terrors. This song sends you to his nightmares, with “Solo Dolo” representing insecurities that he has with himself.
A lot of people can relate to the theme of loneliness. I know I don’t feel the need to always be around people, but that is not the case for everyone. I think this song speaks to those who are comfortable with themselves and embrace it.
12) “Trapped In My Mind” (2010)
This is the last song on this album, an ending to the story of Mr. Rager. The album has psychedelic and alternative elements to it that explore a lot of themes. This feeling of loneliness, isolation, and detachment is present, not only in “Trapped in My Mind” but throughout the whole album.
The message behind this song is that Kid Cudi’s stuck in his mind, and he’s accepting that he will be stuck there forever. Since he is stuck inside his own head, he can use it to revisit his past and learn from his mistakes. He is accepting his dark past instead of trying to sweep it under the rug.
For those that are shy or even anti-social, this song is very appealing. It’s telling you that it’s okay to always be trapped in your mind, but use that to move on. Don’t dwell in the past, it won’t help you, it will only hold you back. This song is great if you are going through a rough time.
11) “Love.” (2015)
Kid Cudi wrote this song during his recording sessions for his Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon album. This song is a sample of Ratatat’s “Sunblocks” song. Kid Cudi did not include it on his Satellite Flight album, but on March of 2015, he dropped this single onto Soundcloud. The way that Kid Cudi executes his timing and emotion is what makes this song great.
In “Love.,” Kid Cudi is pouring his heart out to his fans and listeners while encouraging them to stay positive. Don’t get beat down by life—it will all be okay.
Kid Cudi opens up the song with the line about how he is “happy to be alive.” He also states that he is hopeful, but he fights the bad feelings every day. He then sends the message to not be so down on yourself: “you’ll be okay.”
Loneliness can feel like you have no connection to anyone and only have yourself for company. For many people, escaping the loneliness is as easy as walking outside or calling friends over. But when there are other underlining issues, when you’re battling internal demons, it can be far more difficult.
10) “Just What I Am” (2013)
For a lot of Kid Cudi fans, this song is a timeless tale of self-acceptance and being open. For an older Cudi song, I still have this on a frequently played playlist. The inspiration for this song was the struggle Kid Cudi faces between trying to please his fans and his critics. The media was pressuring him over his marijuana usage; so, he stopped for the sake of his child and did not want to be involved with drug culture. This song is his coming out about smoking again; he can’t change who he is and even says, “I’m just what I am.”
When listening to this song I feel like anything I do, whether it’s good or bad, I am who I am. I shouldn’t need to change myself. The whole theme for this song is Kid Cudi saying he doesn’t care about how people feel about his marijuana usage, he’s going to do what makes him happy. I can relate to that statement in multiple ways; people will always have a comment about what you are doing in life, why care what they think?
This song continues to be a popular hit due to Kid Cudi’s message that he presents; he talks about all of his pressures, stress, critics, and dealing with his parenting image. In the song, he states that he saw a therapist who prescribed pills and therapy; none of it worked. He realized that just by being himself, he was able to be happy. That is something we can all relate to, and what makes this song great almost 10 years later.
9) “Dat New New” (2008)
“Dat New New” is a throwback from Kid Cudi’s 2008 Day ‘N’ Nite mixtape. The meaning of this song is very debated with many fans having opposing views. One theory is that this song is talking about a strain of marijuana that only Kid Cudi has access to.
Other theories are when Kid Cudi says “dat new new” he is talking about his music being fresh and everyone wanting to hear it. In this song, he says “You can look all over but no, you’ll never find, hot s*** like mine. Woop, it blow your mind.”
When I listen to this song, it’s hard to be in a bad mood and not smile. It’s a hard song not to bop to. It brings up good memories of driving around listening to this song and also hearing it in nightclubs that would play it.
When Kid Cudi says, “I’m aware that I’m different”, he’s referencing that he knows that he is unique and he doesn’t care to fall in line with what others want him to be. This again is an example of why people love Kid Cudi, not just for his music but for the message that he conveys to his audience. Even though this song is so good, because it was released in his 2008, this whole mixtape is very slept on.
8) “Pursuit of Happiness” (2009)
The “Pursuit of Happiness” was a single released on Kid Cudi’s 2009 album Man on the Moon: The End of Day. This song was placed at number 59 on the Billboard Hot 100.
For many listeners, this song does bring back memories of “2 am summer night” and partying. But for Kid Cudi, this song is about trying to find happiness through drinking, drugs, and partying. He’s trying to chase his happiness; by going down roads that will only cause self-destruction.
There are times when many people will get lost in their daily troubles and try to drown them out with whatever they can — be it food, alcohol, drugs, or other means. When I first heard this song, I remember being at a party and everyone singing along with the line “I’m on a pursuit of happiness and I know, everything that shine ain’t always gonna be gold”. It was a very happy-sounding song that we all resonated with, unbeknown to us that it was a darker song with a deeper meaning.
For those of us who had the chance to listen to Kid Cudi’s music when this first dropped, it was a great time. I often find myself coming back to listen to this song when I am feeling a little down, or if I’m having a great day and need something to celebrate along to. It’s great because it flows with whatever mood you are in and makes you realize that everything will be good.
7) “Day ‘n’ Nite (Nightmare)” (2008)
This song was a huge hit off of Kid Cudi’s 2008- A Kid Named Cudi mixtape and was also released in 2009 as the lead single from his album Man on the Moon: The End of Day. This song has peaked at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100. It was also ranked number 15 on the “Best 25 songs of 2009” list by Rolling Stone. If you are looking for a chill song, this song will fully deliver that to you.
When this song first came out, it was all over the media. I can still remember the first time I watched the music video on TV; I was blown away. This song, and music video, were like nothing I have ever seen. The opening instrumental is a very famous sound and instantly takes me back to late 2009.
Kid Cudi’s reason for this song was his uncle; they were very close but drifted away, and Cudi never apologized. Then, his uncle passed away, with Cudi saying in an interview: “We were actually beefing because he forced me out the house when I didn’t have another situation set up, so I was bitter. I never apologized for it, and that kills me. That’s why I wrote “Day ‘N’ Nite”. The lyrics to this song are based on Kid Cudi trying to cope with his emotional anguish and wanting to find inner peace.
6) “Soundtrack 2 My Life” (2009)
This song remains one of the many beloved songs of Kid Cudi’s 2009 album Man on the Moon: The End of Day. At the beginning of this song, Cudi starts by flipping the famous “99 Problems” hook by Jay-Z, with him referring to wanting to switch places with Kanye West.
In an interview with DJBooth.net, Cudi said he wrote this song from an ignorant state of mind intentionally.
This song sounds like a very chill and happy song, but the contents of the lyrics are very serious and dark. This song has multiple deeply personal lines that all talk about different scenarios that he has had to deal with. Kid Cudi talks about “since my father died, I ain’t been right since”, he was only 11 when he lost his father to cancer.
One of the reasons this song is so loved is because Kid Cudi raps about depression and drug issues; not many other rappers were talking about depression at the time. He also talks about some deep truths “Hope I really get to see 30. Wanna settle down, stop being so flirty”. Most people can relate to this line and find that this song resonates with a wide range of audiences.
5) “Man on the Moon (The Anthem)” (2009)
This was one of Kid Cudi’s early songs that defined his career and was often called his best song. It was released in 2008 on his first mixtape A Kid Named Cudi, then released on his 2009 debut album.
The lyrics for “Man on the Moon (The Anthem)” contains themes of anxiety, being lonely, and depression. This song is about Kid Cudi being different in all aspects of his life. When he says “Man on the Moon” he is talking about how he feels so different like he is out of our world. He is stating that he can escape his fears by turning himself into a colossal being: the man on the moon.
Kid Cudi talks about how if he wasn’t the way that he was, maybe people would like him more. He gives multiple examples in the first verse of how he is, and how he would be loved if he wasn’t this way. Even though he says that he doesn’t care, he is feeling down on himself and does care. If I had that many people criticizing everything that I did, I would probably feel the same way too.
The line, “They got me thinking that I ain’t human. Like I came in from above” is talking about people making him think he is different or alien. In our society, if we don’t fit into the mold, we are considered different, weird, or even crazy as Kid Cudi mentions. I think this song is considered one of his top songs because of the message that it sends and how it can resonate with a wide audience.
4) “Mr. Rager” (2010)
Not only did “Mr. Rager” land Kid Cudi yet another US Billboard Hot 100 spot, but it was also a hit in the media. This song is talking about the state of mind that Kid Cudi was in at the time of writing this song.
This song is still popular with many people because they can relate to Kid Cudi’s battle with drugs, bad impulses, and the competition between good and evil. The song even references Cudi almost overdosing one time and how close he came to death; it was a wake-up call for the artist.
With the opioid epidemic that has swept the nation, millions of people could relate to this scenario and take away the message that it is not worth it.
3) “Up, Up & Away” (2009)
This song is considered a drug anthem and a great pop single. This song is great for escaping, Kid Cudi wrote this song to escape his mind and thoughts and as a feel-good closer for the album.
The whole point of this song is, “They gon judge me anyway, so whatever”. No matter what you do people will have something to say about it, a common theme in most Kid Cudi songs. So, to get over people’s opinions, he ignores them and continues his life. I listen to this song when I am in a happy mood, but it’s another one of his deeper-meaning songs.
Not only is this song upbeat, but it gives a message that it doesn’t matter if people hate on you. Continue your life and work on yourself. Your success and happiness will come and that is what haters do not want for you.
2) “Mojo So Dope” (2010)
The album, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, is broken into different chapters containing different moods. “Mojo So Dope” is an upbeat track, where Kid Cudi finds himself looking back at his lifestyle and affairs before he became famous.
Kid Cudi’s line about living through words and not metaphors was not attacking any other rappers.
The lyrics also mention that he doesn’t care about anyone else’s lifestyle and that he’s living the lifestyle that he talks about. I found myself very interested in the flow and the vibe that it produced. The song is very chill and upbeat but also gives an odd nostalgia feeling.
1) “Erase Me” (2010)
The music video for “Erase Me” starts with an opening scene portraying Kid Cudi as Jimi Hendrix and actors Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Clark Duke. The song also features a guest appearance from his mentor Kanye West. This song was another one of Kid Cudi’s hit singles and reached number 22 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
It has been suspected that this song is inspired by both Kid Cudi and Kayne West’s life. Or possibly about what they have seen or possible scenarios. When listening to the lyrics, it seems to some people that there is a girl constantly chasing him, but he doesn’t want her back. Then she forgets about him. With him realizing that she was everything, it’s too late—she has moved on.
It seems to be a constant occurrence in life; that we want what we can’t have. Too many times people are approached with potential relationships, ignore them, then later want what they can’t have.
When Cudi says “I keep on ducking, keep on ducking and nothing helps. I can’t stop missing you”, there have been many times when I have missed someone or something, and can’t stop missing them no matter how hard I try.
If you are looking for a perfect blend of club music, hip-hop, and rock pop, you will be impressed with this song. This song has a rock-influenced feeling and has some of the same musical tones as Kanye’s music from the late 2000s.
Kid Cudi has many different themes that are portrayed in his music. Some of his songs seem like they are happy songs, but they have a darker underlining theme. The best Kid Cudi songs that have a more chill vibe are going to be Up, Up & Away, Pursuit of Happiness, Dat New New, and Day ‘N’ Nite. These songs all contain underlining messages, some of which are dark, but they are chill and can lift your mood.
For a darker, gloomy tone, listen to Erase Me, Mojo So Dope, Mr. Rager, Man on the Moon, Soundtrack 2 My Life, and Just What I Am.
Where will Kid Cudi go next? No one knows for sure. But we’re already preparing to board that rocket ship to the moon.
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