This article originally appeared in the\u00a0October 2010\u00a0issue of\u00a0SPIN.\u00a0In honor of the\u00a010th anniversary of Kid Cudi's debut album\u00a0Man on the Moon: the End of the Day, we\u2019re republishing it here. Kid Cudi twirls a neon-red, Darth Maul-style, double-bladed lightsaber skyward, and then catches it, mid-spin. \u201cI need this on tour, so when motherfuckers run up, I can just be, like, \u2018Breach!\u2019?\u201d He twists his head around and shoots me a devilish look. Dressed this August afternoon as casually as one can be wearing black leather pants and a gold Jesus piece pendant, Cudi, 26, is hanging at home, a sparse, high-ceiling loft in Manhattan\u2019s tony TriBeCa neighborhood. But the reference to defending himself is not quite a joke. Last December, onstage in Vancouver, Cudi picked up a wallet, thrown from the crowd, that he claimed had struck him square in the face. Irritated, he pointed out who he thought was the wallet\u2019s owner, a fan named Michael Sharpe, and tossed it to him. But the billfold didn\u2019t belong to Sharpe, so he tossed it back onstage. Cudi then leaped over a barricade and confronted Sharpe, who was smiling, thrilled to be face-to-face with an artist he admired. Misinterpreting the smile, Cudi popped the fan in the right eye. A frenzy ensued, bouncers lunged, and moments later Cudi dropped the mic and left. It\u2019s all on YouTube, for posterity. Then, something unexpected happened. Sharpe told TMZ the next day: \u201cI\u2019m not upset, I\u2019m not going to be that person. I just want to meet him and be like, \u2018I\u2019m the guy you punched.\u2019 I\u2019m not going to press charges.\u201d Five months after the incident, a regretful Cudi brought Sharpe onstage at Seattle\u2019s Sasquatch Festival during the song \u201cPursuit of Happiness.\u201d Afterward, the two had pizza at Cudi\u2019s hotel. \u201cWe\u2019re good friends ,\u201d he says. Jerritt Clark\/WireImage Typical Cudi. He\u2019s a star in the traditional sense\u2014handsome, styled just so, a bit of a prima donna. But he carries a tidal wave of insecurity and empathy with him. It\u2019s a vulnerability, uncommon in the preening world of hip-hop, that has made him an avatar for young, plainspoken dysfunction. And despite, or in part because of, these genuinely distressed emotional flare-ups, Kid Cudi has exceptionally loyal fans. \u201cAt least 104,000,\u201d he says, leaning against a Bape pillow on a sectional couch and taking a pull on his third weed-filled Swisher of the day. The number becomes a sort of mantra during our interview. Actually, it\u2019s the number of copies sold (104,419 exactly) of his debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, in its first week of 2009 release, good for a No. 4 debut on the Billboard chart. Most of the sales were propelled by breakout single \u201cDay \u2018N\u2019 Nite.\u201d Even now, nearly three years since it was recorded and four since it was written, the song sounds like an alien outlier. It\u2019s all bloops, astral synths, and a remarkable half-sung melody\u2014\u201cThe lonely stoner seems to free his mind at night.\u201d Like some evolutionary strand of new-age rap, it became a rallying cry for the disaffected and depressed. When the Italian duo Crookers\u2019 electro-house remix hit in late 2008, a swarm of antic, active fans\u2014many in Europe\u2014bought in. Jim Jones, Trey Songz, Pitbull, and many others recorded their own versions. The song has sold an astonishing 2.3 million digital singles. Despite concern from his co-managers\u2014Patrick \u201cPlain Pat\u201d Reynolds, a longtime Kanye West affiliate, and producer Emile Haynie, the rapper\u2019s primary musical collaborator\u2014Cudi hasn\u2019t been haunted by the shadow of \u201cDay \u2018N\u2019 Nite.\u201d \u201cI think he knows he\u2019s a star now,\u201d Haynie says. \u201cBut before we put out the first album, to a lot of people he was just the \u2018Day \u2018N\u2019 Nite\u2019 guy.\u201d In fact, the first thing Cudi wants to do when we sit down is play a song he\u2019s just recorded with \u201cDay \u2018N\u2019 Nite\u201d producer Dot Da Genius that he\u2019s hoping to squeeze onto his new album, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, before deadline. It might be called \u201cNot That Bad,\u201d but it\u2019s unfinished. As the swaying, sunken beat begins, Cudi taps his retro Air Jordan IV Pure Money $ sneakers on the floor. The chorus is simple, but considered: \u201cI\u2019m not that bad at all \/ When you think of the world \/ It\u2019s not that bad at all.\u201d Anyone who has followed the problematic aspects of Cudi\u2019s life to this point\u2014his struggle with drugs, his violent outbursts, a recent arrest\u2014will understand why he\u2019s giving himself (and everyone, really) a pass. He has to. It\u2019s the only way to keep the doubts from consuming him. https:\/\/youtu.be\/VrDfSZ_6f4U Born Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi in Cleveland, Kid Cudi was raised in a lower-middle-class area of Shaker Heights, along with three siblings, by his elementary-school-teacher mother, Elsie, and, until he was 11, his father, Lindberg, a World War II vet and house painter, who died of cancer at 67 in 1995. \u201cLin was always a strong force in their lives, and when he got sick, they went through that sickness with him,\u201d says Cudi\u2019s mom of her children. \u201cThey were there every day after school, even when it got real bad. So it was a devastating time for all of them\u2014Scott especially, because he was the baby. There\u2019s a sadness because of the void.\u201d His father\u2019s passing, though, also spurred Cudi\u2019s creativity. After catching him singing under his bed one day, Elsie pushed him to join the school choir. She bought Calvin and Hobbes anthologies to encourage his drawing. And when he took a serious interest in rap, she supported that, too. Still, the quiet melancholy never disappeared. After being \u201ca C and D student with a teacher mom,\u201d Cudi enrolled in Toledo University, only to drop out after a year studying film. But he was also recording demos, funded by shifts at a local Applebee\u2019s. While we\u2019re talking, Cudi excitedly rummages through a stack of scratched-up CD-Rs, pulling one out that says KID MESC: RAP HARD with three different Ohio phone numbers written in black marker. This is his first demo, from 2001. He slides it into his MacBook, begging not to be judged. \u201cI\u2019m nervous, man!\u201d There\u2019s shoddy, chipmunk soul-style production and a rickety, East Coast-influenced flow, but it\u2019s Cudi all over. \u201cI been drunk before, but I\u2019m feeling this shit \/ I\u2019ve been high before, but I\u2019m feeling this shit,\u201d he raps on \u201cParty All the Time.\u201d When the song is over, Cudi realizes it\u2019s not so bad. \u201cMan, I might redo this and release it!\u201d Jerritt Clark\/WireImage After leaving Cleveland in 2005, he moved in with his uncle, the accomplished jazz drummer Kalil Madi, in the South Bronx. He had $500, no job, and no friends. He worked at a couple of Manhattan clothing stores, before eventually sharing an apartment with Dot Da Genius in Brooklyn, and the two began developing the Kid Cudi sound: an atmospheric take on melodic rap, with a dollop of charming, off-key singing. In 2006, while Plain Pat was an A&R at Def Jam, a producer brought Cudi up to the office. They played music and Pat quietly nodded his head. No deal was consummated, but they kept in touch. \u201cWhen you meet artists, you know,\u201d Pat says. \u201cTheir presence, they\u2019ll take any attention in the room\u2014he did that. He\u2019s always had that star quality. It was just rough.\u201d After running into Cudi at a club, Pat introduced him to Haynie, who had done production work for Eminem, Ice Cube, and Ghostface Killah. The three quickly became artistic and business partners, and extremely close friends. Sometimes it can feel like two concerned parents struggling with their charismatic ADHD son, but there\u2019s an endearing connection. All three men wistfully recall the early days of touring, playing clubs in Philadelphia and Toronto before fewer than 200 people, earning little money but staying out all night. \u201cThat\u2019s the best time,\u201d Pat says. \u201cThe come-up.\u201d When \u201cDay \u2018N\u2019 Nite\u201d took off online, Cudi signed a deal with Kanye West\u2019s G.O.O.D. Music and then with Universal. But before the album\u2019s release, he made a fateful trip to Hawaii to work with West on a Jay-Z album. \u201cI was so nervous, but not typical butterflies,\u201d he says. \u201cLike, \u2018Man, I hope this nigga don\u2019t think I\u2019m wack.\u2019 \u2018Cause he\u2019ll say this shit\u2019s weak. And I won\u2019t be mad, I\u2019ll be like, \u2018You right.\u2019 But I hope he sees what I see. What my mom sees.\u201d Cudi only landed one song on The Blueprint 3, the sneakily brilliant, \u201cAlready Home.\u201d But four of his frozen-hearted hooks found a home on West\u2019s 808s & Heartbreak, also recorded in Hawaii, an album deeply indebted to the sound that Cudi had been building. \u201cThere was something in the room, and everybody was consuming the inspiration,\u201d he says, hesitant to take too much credit. https:\/\/youtu.be\/7xzU9Qqdqww Cudi is fidgety but funny in person, using goofy voices and playing different characters as he tells stories. But he's also deeply sensitive, and can be brutally honest in his lyrics, rhyming about the impact of his father's death, his mother's financial struggles, and how he had contemplated suicide. That honesty\u2014coupled with an aspirational slacker attitude and a fashion-forward sensibility\u2014has made Cudi uniquely marketable. His early association with Tape (he once worked in a store) certified him with the streetwear set. Heineken, Vitaminwater, and Converse have used him to promote their brands. But despite all that's riding on his career, he's still unguarded about the bad decisions he's made. "I started doing drugs to get through interviews," he says, frankly, his brown eyes unflinching. "Because when people started asking a lot of personal questions about my childhood, I found it terribly hard. So I started doing cocaine to be more upbeat. I'd do bumps and smoke , so I wouldn't be so edgy. I didn't know people would be like, 'So, what was it like when you lost your dad?'" His growing fame unnerved him. "Have you seen Inception? It's like, everybody's a projection. Everywhere I go, I'm like, 'Why am I in this dream?' It's like I'm trespassing in this world that's not my own. And I was so, so, so wanting to keep it together. That's what made me do drugs." Jerritt Clark\/WireImage Cudi's drug use has had severe consequences. "I might not have been shooting up or slangin' on the block," he says, "but real life is real." When I ask him at what point he realized the damage he as causing, Cudi pauses for a full minute. "After I went to jail." On June 11, Scott Mescudi was arrested on charges of felony criminal mischief and possession of a controlled substance (alleged to be liquid cocaine in a small glass tube). Reports say that he smashed the cellphone of a 24-year-old woman\u2014thought to be his girlfriend, Jamie Baratta\u2014and ripped an apartment door off its hinges. "If I'm gonna be going to jail, I'm not gonna be doing this no more," Cudi says, adopting a childlike voice, masking the incident's seriousness. "I had a newfound respect for T.I. and Wayne. I only spent 15 hours in there! I was scared straight, going through the shakes, having no food, being held captive. It didn't matter who I was in the world." Man on the Moon II reflects these complications in his life. The songs are visceral, with audible coke sniffs and lyrics detailing debauched nights with women. "It's a chapter of my life I'm closing," he says. It's meant to be a cautionary song cycle\u2014"for those for whom cocaine does not work." https:\/\/youtu.be\/Xt22KvnRSL4 At times, the album name-drops affairs that feel too close to the flesh. On "Mojo So Dope," Cudi raps, "Wish that I could tell my brother \/ Something for some motivation to get him out that gutter \/ He's leaving behind a family and a mother \/ Damn, you must understand what I speak about in song is how I really am \/ Yeah, this is how I really think \/ You can see what I see \/ Yes, I really think \/ Yes, I really drink, I really do rage." You can see remnants of this Kid Cudi, the album's titular rage, on the HBO series How to Make It in America, as his character, Domingo Brown (who shares a name with Cudi's own brother), romances models and tips back bottles of brown liquor. But Cudi's real-life learning curve is bending in a shockingly short period of time. In March, his daughter, Vada Mescudi, was born; her mother is a longtime friend\/ex, and immediately after our interview, he's airport-bound, headed back to Cleveland, where mom and Vada live. "Trying to grow and be a better man, take care of my responsibilities while not being around fucked with my head," he says. "But I'm going to see her today." He seems content, reclining in his hipster palace, but still caught between responsibility and fleeting youth. "You know, in order to be a Jedi, you need to go though some real training."