Born Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi in Cleveland, Kid Cudi began rapping while attending Shaker Heights High School and later Solon High School. In 2004, Kid Cudi moved to Brooklyn, NY to pursue his rap career. He released his first mixtape, “A Kid Named Cudi,” in 2008. The mixtape earned Kanye West’s attention, leading him to sign Cudi to his GOOD Music imprint. As an up-and-coming artist, Cudi contributed hooks and lyrics to songs by West and Jay-Z, including “Heartless,” “Paranoid” and “Already Home.”
Listen to the MP3 audio of this TEDx Talk:
Musician Scott Mescudi, aka Kid Cudi, returns to his high school to talk about growing up and his career path in the music industry.
Following is the full text of Scott Mescudi’s TEDx Talk: Hi, I’m Scott at TEDxSHHS.
Scott Mescudi – TRANSCRIPT:
This is not comedy hour, I promise. The funny thing is, I used to go to this school. And my class used to sit like in this area. Here. Yeah, 02; who is a 02er? Kendra come here! Kendra, come up. Kendra, everybody. Come, come, give me a hug. How long has it been? Two decades. Come up here.
How about that? Reunion. Okay, so, it’s just a little surreal. I haven’t been in this room since 1999, 2000 maybe.
So I’m 31, I just turned 31 on January 30. How about that? Oh, thank you.
And when I was approached to do this TED Talk, I was immediately like, “Why?”
And then I was kind of like put in perspective funny, and I’m not really one to do speeches. I’m really weird that you can imagine as though I do to perform at most stage, and my job is different to stand up in front of people like this, and speak and express yourself in this way.
But I told myself, OK how am I going to be able to do this? Let me just talk about my life. That’s something I know better than anyone else.
And I feel like, coming from Cleveland, coming from Shaker, you know, such a diverse place and just looking in the audience, the people that I can’t see, it’s still very diverse. But I believe that my upbringing in this town, this school district, is what made me the man I am today.
And when I moved away when I was 20 years old, my mom was extremely sad. Where is my mom? Yeah, she was crying. Hey, mommy.
My first big fan was my mom. And it was really interesting. I remember leaving home, and she was giving me a hug at the airport. And she leans in, and she goes, “I can always turn back around and we can go right back home. If you change your mind, everything is gonna fine.”
I am like “No, I’m going, and this is happening.”
And you know, walk into security, and then looking back and just seeing like… “Oh,” and me just being like, “Oh…”
However, as soon as I turned back around, I knew I was on a mission on this very specific quest. You know? It was bigger than just wanting to be a musician, or do movies. It was about finally showing the world what Scott could do.
I wasn’t the best student, I want to be honest with you. Kendra knows this. If Kendra was in my class, if she was sitting next to me, I probably would have tried to cheat off of her. But that’s not the point.
The point is, it’s like … when I think about it, you know, I wish I applied myself as much as I applied all the energy into music as I did. As in music I wish — you know as in music, I wish I could apply that same energy into my academics when I was in school.
So a lot of people look at me now, and they go “Oh, man, this must dope to be a rapper.” And it is dope, it’s awesome. Top notch.
But, you know, I can’t say that I don’t want to sometimes go back and relearn some things. I can’t say I don’t feel out of certain conversations that my friends have. You know, and these are things that I think about, you know, because being in school is all about being cool and wearing the fresh … I was going to curse, fresh clothing, being popular.
And when you go out into the real world, you realize that moment is just a little “beep” of your life. High school, you know? Now I remember Kendra AG. But everything else, I don’t remember. Now, I’m just joking.
But I’m just saying, at that moment in life, you feel like as all matters. High schools, all this girl doesn’t like me. This guy here and so this drama and you go into the real world and it’s all about just trying to make your mark in the world.
And I never got a chance to do that academically. So I had this fire — I had this fire to pursue this musical career. I had no idea how to go about it. I was living with my uncle who was up in age at the time, 80 years old, he was an older uncle.
So when I moved to New York, it’s not he could show me around, show me all the cool spots, you know, he was kind of like a … “there’s a train and you get a better car and you go.” And that’s okay, we’ve got the rapid, I can do this. It’s all right.
I was immediately wrong for that, for assuming that it was going to be the same. It is not the same. But I embraced it. I embraced the fear, the danger. I enjoyed the fact that I was going in uncharted territory.
It was like a sense of wonder for me. And I can’t say I was one of those people that were into like having thrills, and, you know, getting some type of stimulation from that. But it was nothing like saying like, “Yo, I’m gonna go out and pursue something, and I know I’m going to do it, and nobody’s going to tell me I can’t, and anybody that doesn’t believe it, I am going to prove it to them sooner or later. And that’s just what it is.
Because at one point, I didn’t feel like I was smart enough to pass that test. Or I didn’t feel like I was smart enough to go to this college. But with music, it was like nobody’s gonna take that from me. You know, what I’m saying because there were things that I was dealing with as a youth at this school that I didn’t talk to people about, that probably kept me from putting my best foot forward with my academics, you know?
And the music is a platform for me to express myself and also to realize that I’m not that crazy, that there’re other kids out there that might be depressed or lonely, dealing with suicide, things like these.
And it was one of those things that, you know, I just feel really blessed to just have my mom who’s been my supporter forever, who supplied that that trip financially, first couple of months or whatsoever. to have the support of my hometown, I can come back in this room and feel the love and the energy, you guys got me really nervous, my palms are sweaty.