Scott Mescudi — better known as Kid Cudi — has never been the type to be defined by one label. Taking advantage of his successful 2009 debut album, “Man On The Moon,” Cudi explored acting with his first role — the short-lived 2010 HBO series “How to Make It in America.” Since 2010, the rapper/actor has played various roles, of late shifting gears to higher-up positions, such as working as an executive producer on “Malcolm and Marie.” His most recent project steps into an entirely new environment by creating a Netflix animated TV special, “Entergalactic.”
The television special personifies Cudi’s eighth studio album by presenting a romantic-comedy narrative about the character Jabari, voiced by Cudi. Jabari is an animated equivalent of the rapper, taking the same admiration of streetwear fashion and music seen with decor by streetwear designers Kaws and Virgil Abloh and a Nirvana poster in the character’s Manhattan apartment.
In “Entergalactic,” New York City is illustrated with subtle blue, pink and orange undertones with an animation style very similar to “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” The comic book aesthetic is prevalent as Jabari is brought to Manhattan to convert his graffiti character, Mr. Rager — the name of Cudi’s second album and musical alter ego — into a comic book. While Jabari embarks on his new job he runs across two significant women, his ex-girlfriend Carmen, voiced by Laura Harrier, and his new love interest Meadow, voiced by Jessica Williams.
Significant moments in the narrative are emphasized with music from the new album of the same name — “Entergalatic.” The music is smoothly included in montages, such as when Jabarai goes out partying with his friends, that not only extend the plot, but encourage viewers to listen to the rest of the album “Entergalatic.”
This creates unique concepts of in-film music videos that extend the TV special into an experimental multimedia presentation. The most significant use of the practice is when Jabari first lays his eyes on his photographer neighbor Meadow, when the song “Angel” begins to play.
With their shared love of art, the young couple forges a sweet, innocent connection. Their interest in one another is more evident in the silent moments when their eyes lock than through outward displays of affection. It is a wholesome relationship that ultimately overcomes adversity in the end.
Another point the film analyzes is the construct of online dating. Throughout the film, advertisements for the online dating app Stush are promoted all over New York City. The film promotes a view on organic relationships — Jabari and Meadow — and disapproves of hookup culture — the regretted one-night stand between Jabari and Carmen before he met Meadow — associated with the current dating culture. The most obvious negative view is in the end when it is revealed that Stush was an identity fraud operation that stole millions.
Despite depicting a common love story, the TV special tackles unique topics. One moment that “Entergalactic” covers very well is the censorship or sugar coating of dark topics in art. This is seen when another cartoonist suggests Jabari change his Mr. Rager character to be “bright, white, and light.” This might be a nod to early criticism of Cudi’s music as he featured emotional lyrics of suicide and depression which reviewers felt unfitting to the genre of rap. Despite comments from his co-workers, Jabari ignores him, proving authenticity is applauded.
Altogether, the film follows a common rom-com storyline — two characters meet, part ways due to an obstacle, but then realize their love for one another. It is the small elements that prevent “Entergalactic” from being redundant, however. The friends of Jabari and Meadow are all hilarious in personality. Giving Cudi’s new songs from “Entergalactic” extended limelight in scenes — making it a visual and audible experience — is what makes it feel like a TV special rather than another Netflix movie. The animated details for Cudi’s late friend, Virgil Abloh, such as his characters wearing Off-White clothing, a billboard of Abloh with the words "Icon" and the fact that the series was released on his birthday, Sept. 30, make it all the more special.
For Cudi, this is unlike anything he's done before, which makes “Entergalactic” even more impressive. He is especially aware of that. After a recent interview, Cudi talked about "closing the chapter on Kid Cudi," at least in the realm of music. One can only sit back and wait to see what other ventures Cudi pursues.