No one is surprised, right?
When UU released their Block Party 2011 survey last fall, the writing was on the wall. The list of potential headliners was diverse, but there was no way acts like The Arcade Fire or Katy Perry were coming (simply too big). If folks were questioning who Kid Cudi was, acts like Deadmau5 or the Zac Brown Band didn't stand a chance.
That left Cudi, Maroon 5, Ke$ha, Weezer, Vampire Weekend and Akon. If you question Cudi's relevance, no way Weezer or Maroon 5 would've sufficed (one of those two acts is doing insurance jingles now). Based on Block Party's traditional genres (last four headliners: Drake/N.E.R.D, Ben Folds/Guster?, Fergie/Sean Kingston, Ciara/Lupe Fiasco), hip-hop or pop seemed the most likely fits. Cudi was practically booked last year and considering this list: Kid Cudi > Akon, case closed.
The response on campus has been large and mostly positive. The common themes for detractors on the Cudi announcement seem to be: 1) he's not currently relevant 2) it's the same old Block Party genre and 3) students had access to him in the area previously. Some of that may be true (particularly the small number of folks recognizing Nas is a legend and Cudi just a newcomer. Remember though, Nas will likely just be performing his most recent release with Marley and Cudi's albums have surpassed that).
Cudi played a sold-out show at Cornell last fall and is supposedly scheduled for SUNY Cortland just a week before the Block Party date. However, the same would be true if we booked Vampire Weekend (Rochester in the fall) or Ke$ha (SUNY-Geneseo in April) and Drake faced the same predictament last year without much complaint. Cudi's relevance right now may not be at its peak (hard to argue "Man On The Moon II" eclipsed the original), but he still released an acclaimed album last year and his first release was one of the more highly regarded rap debuts in the last five years. More importantly, he's relevant to our campus according to the limited numbers released about the UU survey (36 percent of respondents had him ranked first, 30 percent had him second). If UU ever releases the full results (Note to UU: Please do. I'll run them here immediately if you're willing) we can argue about acts who were close, but the organization is catering to their audience and you can't expect them to do more.
If you're not familiar with Kid Cudi and simply dismiss this booking as another rap or hip-hop show, take a minute to listen for yourself. Cudi is more Kanye West than he is true emcee. He's an artist who is very aware of the current musical and pop cultural landscape and finds ways to reference it in his work (for instance his debut album featured help from MGMT and Ratatat and an infectious sample of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face"). While it may not be the pure pop or rock act some were hoping for, calling Kid Cudi a traditional rapper doesn't do him enough justice. His music has the ability to appeal across genres and you've likely heard it without knowing it before.
We still don't know who the secret opener is (UU president was quoted as saying the act is, "a very interesting pick that has been garnering some attention lately and will add a nice element to Block Party," though) but on the merit's of yesterday's announcement alone it's worth planning for the 11 a.m. presale today. Those who are complaining about the Cudi announcement, I'm not sure what a better alternative was (see the headliners list below). Kid Cudi is a major act who'll undoubtedly winover folks willing to go and see for themselves. Expect another Block Party with sales figures close to last year and it'll be hard to say UU did anything but succeed if that happens.
Otto-Tune is a music blog dedicated to exposing the best in local, national and international music to the Syracuse community.