Pursuit of Happiness – Kid Cudi

The rap song Pursuit of Happiness was released back in 2010 by Kid Cudi. In the song Kid Cudi talks about the journey one takes to achieve the happiness everyone desires, or told to aspire for. Kid Cudi’s songs typically show up on the iPods of young adults who enjoy hip-hop and rap music. This song talks about how the pursuit of happiness can induce a life style of substance abuse, anticipation and regret even though there is the possibility we will not be happy in the end.

kid cudi

The lyrics of this song are catchy and easy to understand. The paralinguistic cues including the volume, pitch, rate and emphasis typically stay in the same range reflecting a calm, “chill-like” melody. The loudest part of the song is right at the beginning grabbing its listener’s attention but starts out with some discursive symbols that encourage the use of marijuana.

“Crush a bit, little bit, roll it up, take a hit
Feelin’ lit, feeling light, 2 am summer night”

Kid Cudi describes a virtual experience making life about getting intoxicated or high, and glamorize the effects these substances have. The lyrics insist that these substances are necessary for this pursuit of happiness Kid Cudi is on. The virtual time of the song compliments the meaning behind the song. When someone is under the influence they usually feel at ease and this song is supposed to replicate that feeling. Kid Cudi is able to convey a congruent message of how he feels by repeating his main point in the chorus. He talks about how he wants happiness and will keep trying to get it despite how others feel about it:

“People told me slow my roll,
I’m screaming out f*** that
Lookin’ ahead no turnin’ back
If I fall, if I die, I know I lived it to the fullest…
and missed some bullets”

Kid Cudi wants this ultimate happiness that is so perfect and is will do anything to obtain it. That’s what makes the song so relatable because everyone wants to be happy. They want to do a job that makes them happy, want to be with a partner that makes them happy or even want stability to make them happy or a combination of all. Happiness is more important than most people are willing to admit and if a person is happy they can be at ease with everything else that is occurring in life. Pursuit of Happiness has tragic lyrics, it focuses on how achieving happiness is very important but the journey may not be easy or as glamorous as expected. There will be many aspects of life that are not clear or are deceitful, but it is all worth it as longs as the end product is happiness. The chorus explains this perfectly by stating:

“I’m on the pursuit of happiness and I know
Everything that shines ain’t always gonna be gold
And I’ll be fine once I get it
I’ll be good (X2)”

By the end of the song Kid Cudi comes to terms with the fact that even though he wants happiness he may not get it and is content with that despite his desire and struggle in pursuing it.

“I’m on the pursuit of happiness,
Yeah and if I don’t get it, I’ll be good”

He even shows remorse for his substance abuse driven lifestyle, (Oh my god, why did I drink so much and smoke so much? Ah). It seems Kid Cudi chooses use these substances in order to ease the stress of the pursuit of happiness but is still unsuccessful with achieving the happiness he sought out for. Overall this song just shows that even though something is wanted, does not mean it can be obtained and we have to accept that.

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2 thoughts on “Pursuit of Happiness – Kid Cudi

  1. This deconstruction of Kid Cudi’s Pursuit of Happiness was exceptionally well done. Although drug use and the pursuit of happiness can’t really be called an original topic, I liked the theme choice very much. It was quite engaging to read a commentary on how many people overlook or take for granted their state of happiness or often search for happiness from external situations or in material gains. You did a great job describing Cudi’s pursuit through the illusory benefits of substance use; temporarily improving his emotional state but ending in the sickness of post-binge “chemical” rejection. I did feel as though there were a few key pieces missing from the analysis (likely for concisions sake) and some hasty conclusions. Another edit or larger word limit could have reconciled these points.
    I noticed that there’s not much mention of the second verse of the song. Again it’s difficult to mention all the complexities of a piece in only 500 words but I felt like this portion added some complexity to the lyrical content. Cudi sings, “Tell me what you know about them night terrors every night. 5 am, cold sweats wakin’ up to the sky. Tell me what you know about dreams, dreams. Tell me what you know about night terrors, nothing’.” I felt like these lines in particular emphasize a different dimension of the lyrics; more of a focus is put on not just finding happiness but escaping some internal conflict or fear. I also felt like there was an irony in saying, “You don’t really care about the trials of tomorrow. Rather lay awake in a bed full of sorrow.” Cudi himself, although seeming to speak as though he were above these ways, appears to be endorsing an attitude of similar nature in relying on drugs to relieve himself of his mental anguish. While he might momentarily feel “awake” using certain substances, nothing really changes in his day to day reality using these substances. He’s still in his “bed full of sorrow” and is only avoiding the “trials of tomorrow” by running to the pretendency of his mind. In a longer analysis, lyrics such as these with more contrary notions to the main theme of a piece could be interesting to delve into further.
    I think the argument needing the most work was the categorizing of virtual experience. I felt like the lyrical content was both partially tragic and partially comedic. Although there definitely are elements of tragedy, as you mentioned the journey to happiness isn’t always so glamorous and there is a certain morbidity to it, but there’s also an element of comedy in seeking to attain a more fulfilling life. As you mentioned everything in life is worth it “as long as the end product is happiness.” I feel like that undertone of hopefulness and aiming to make life as enjoyable as possible definitely opens the virtual experience into a more dynamic mix of both comedy and tragedy which wasn’t fully expressed in your deconstruction. Allowing more time for identifying complexities in lyrics might make for a fuller analysis.
    I think your strongest point was in how intricately you described the congruencies of the song. You did a really good job of breaking down the motivational needs of Cudi and also in mentioning how these effects might influence listeners to use drugs, especially in how you positioned the ease and feel of being high so closely to the idea of glamorization. You quite effectively identified the emotional ties of virtual time in relation to the virtual experience described as well as to the listeners reaction. Referencing the chorus was a good point too, he really makes effective use of repetition to develop the overall feel of the track. Really laying everything out piece by piece helped make this a strong and complex point. Very well done.
    Overall as far as directions for improvement, probably just doing what you did with the formerly mentioned paragraph would work well. Laying down all of the evidence and going piece by piece. Combing through lines one by one as well as in unison to extract the full meaning and relationships of each component to the piece as a whole. With only 500 words it’s tough so continuing to build skills in concision and precision of language is helpful. Also just aiming to use topic sentences to start and conclude paragraphs and making sure each paragraph is about just one specific idea would be helpful in building a more impactful pacing. The illusion of life deconstructions have a lot of components, you did a really good job of including most of them. I’d be really interested in seeing what you could do with the same rhetorical perspective under less restrictive word limitations.

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