Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi’s “Entergalactic,” the rapper’s sprawling Netflix special that accompanies his eighth studio album of the same name, is proof that the multihyphenate can “do what he wants.”
The otherworldly animated Netflix special is an immersion into a New York City that drips with milky way hues, tactile textures, wavy synths and the adrenaline rush that comes with experiencing ardent young love. A passion project and labor of love from the artist, who invited many of his real-life friends (like Timothée Chalamet, Ty Dolla $ign, Laura Harrier and Vanessa Hudgens) to lend their voices to the show, “Entergalactic” took several years to make, initially conceptualized as a season-long series with six to eight installations and only one animated episode.
“For a while, I had been sitting on this idea of wanting to do an anthology [where] each season would have a certain theme,” Mescudi told TheWrap. “This first season that I was developing in my mind, the theme was love.”
The musician, who has begun to establish himself in the world of Hollywood as a creator and actor, said talking with Kenya Barris (who serves as executive producer) about Netflix’s animation goals helped him commit to the visual undertaking.
“I was like, ‘Well, there’s one animated episode of my anthology, what I can do is I can expand that story and just make it a whole thing and run with that.’”
From then on, it was about assembling the right creative team to ensure a “collaborative process” filled with “pure love and passion and talent” that would yield a piece of artistry as-yet unseen in the animation world. Animation director Fletcher Moules, writers Ian Edelman and Maurice Williams, former Netflix animation execs Mike Moon and Elizabeth Porter and the late Virgil Abloh, which the project pays homage to, all helped stitch “Entergalactic” together.
Barris said the team drew from previous animation styles, like those exemplified in the hit “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” but wanted the project to be emblematic of Mescudi’s creative vision and stand on its own. That meant paying specific attention to character designs, such as accurately portraying natural Black hair, and painting the city itself as a living being with shifting color gradients and tones. Then, of course, there were the melodic elements of the project, which propelled its main love interests, graffiti artist-turned-comic designer Jabari (Mescudi) and photographer Meadow (Jessica Williams), together.
“It’s the first time that we’ve ever seen an album and a show coming together at the same time,” Barris told TheWrap. “Each track on the album represents a chapter in the program. I really feel like it feels proprietary, and I think people will take it in and at the same time it might be launching something else that we can use as a franchiseable piece of IP.”
Mescudi added, “The music element was always a part of it in the first place and this was more so, ‘How can I bring the visual and the music and marry the two and it just be the perfect thing, and it not be like what we’ve seen before, like a visual album?’”
In fact, the television event includes Easter eggs for longtime fans of Cudi’s: Jabari’s coined comic book character “Mr. Rager” takes its name from a 2010 song off of the artist’s second album. Then there’s the special’s eponymous song, which was featured on his debut LP in 2009.
Barris joked of his involvement in the TV event, “I rolled a lot of Scott’s weed … no, I feel like we just knew we wanted to do something special. That’s what Scott kept pushing for. He was like, ‘I want this to be big.’”
The producer liked “Entergalactic” to a “painting” that’s seeing its first mass audience, adding that the project was “painstakingly” undertaken. “None of it’s an accident,” he said, explaining that he wants audiences to feel inspired to form “out of the box” ideas upon viewing.
For Williams, the story is about “two imperfect people” finding each other.
“I liked the idea that you can still be happy and still be a person in progress, and still be heading somewhere,” she said. “You are a whole and complete person the way you are, and no matter what, you’re still worthy of love.”