With its trippy animation style and tender storyline, Kid Cudi’s new Netflix Series Entergalactic is one of the more impressive Black rom-coms to premiere in recent history.
Jabari is a semi-stoned artist who moves into his New York apartment and falls in love with his neighbor. When their relationship is threatened, he takes her to the vegan burger place she took him on their impromptu first date. He then confesses his love. This is the plot for Entergalactic, Kid Cudi’s new animated series now showing on Netflix. With its trippy animation style that many would recognize from 2018’s critical favorite Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Entergalactic charmingly launches itself into rom-com territory.
Importantly enough, the series aims to visually complement the rapper’s eighth studio album of the same name. Entergalactic does something truly wonderful for the state of Black romantic comedies. Black romantic comedies have never quite appealed to mainstream Hollywood. The white ones are, for a fact, put on a vertiginous pedestal. Nothing is original anymore. And although Entergalactic doesn’t try to make certain plot maneuvers or outsmart its audience — its boy-meets-girl storyline is garden-variety rom-com — it’s just as equally tender and evocative. Directed by Fletcher Moules, and co-created by Cudi and black-ish mastermind Kenya Barris, the series folds into chapters and is held by the album’s sonic integrity.
Jabari, voiced by Kid Cudi, has been painting looming murals of Mr. Rager on street corners. As a street artist, he has gained notoriety, even before moving to Manhattan. Die-hard fans of the rapper would remember “Mr. Rager,” a single from his second album Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. Cudi created Mr. Rager as an alter ego, a different consciousness around other emotional landscapes. Whether induced by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both or even emotional trauma, this persona that has haunted Cudi’s creative periphery is now brought to the fore in the most visible way in Entergalactic
Given the opportunity to develop Mr. Rager into a comic series, Jabari enters a new phase of his artistic career. Manhattan draws him in with its buzzing traffic, street restaurants and grind culture. One night in his apartment, struggling to sleep because of party music in the building, he attempts to investigate who’s responsible for the noise. He would later discover that the party host is his neighbor Meadow (Jessica Williams), who is apologetic at once for the disturbance but also slightly amused by how he’s transfixed on her.
The scene is soundtracked by Kid Cudi singing “Angel“ off the Entergalactic album. It’s one of those love-at-first-sight moments. This is where the series begins to build a visual story through cosmology, accompanied by the song’s synth-heavy space sounds and trembling piano keys. Williams, who has already cultivated a rom-com charm in BBC One’s Love Life, is perfectly realized in her braids and natural quirks. Same for other members of the flattering, high-profile cast: Laura Harrier as Carmen (Jabari’s ex), TY Dolla Sign as KY and Timothée Chalamet as Jimmy (Jabari’s close friends).
A photographer, Meadow is also an artist trying to break into New York’s art scene, taking interesting images of the city. As the series progresses through its concise chapters — at times feeling movie-like — Jabari and Meadow suddenly become who we care about. Where Entergalatic truly shines is turning certain scenes into visual-sonic escapisms. Meadow’s agent Reed (Christopher Abbott) takes her to a vagina-themed art party, with entertainers wearing pink vagina-shaped suits. Jabari and KY are there too, and she soon leaves with Jabari into the streets, where Kid Cudi’s “In Love“ propels them into whole new universes.
The song finds Kid Cudi emoting vulnerably, harkening back to the emo sensibilities of his debut studio album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, which was released in 2009. Kid Cudi and his impulses to escape reality isn’t new. On that album, it manifested in “Enter Galactic,” a bubbly, disco-tinged song about the rapper meeting a woman for the first time and doing shrooms while having sex.
That song title, years later, would become Kid Cudi’s name for his Netflix television event. Not only does Moules’ immersive animation allow the project to come to life, it shows how Cudi has always been in touch with his feelings. What does it mean to escape in a world that continues to burn? What does it mean to hide one’s self from setbacks and career failures? What world is left when everything is taken away?
Entergalactic may be Kid Cudi’s personal odyssey through love and vulnerability, but it also proposes that we can leap forward into the universes we choose to create with others.