The Return of Kid Cudi

In rapper Kid Cudi’s TED talk to his former high school, he employs different rhetorical techniques to convince the audience that hard work and self-confidence is all that is necessary to succeed. An audience will not take a speech to heart if they are too overwhelmed or excited and blindly agree with the speaker. Cudi first utilizes humor to loosen up the audience, knowing that they may be overwhelmed by such a popular figure at their school. He then establishes a connection with the audience by saying that he went to the same school and sat in the same seats as everyone else there. Although he already has inherent ethos as a celebrity, Cudi develops it further in this way because not everyone may still like him or know who he is.

Furthermore, Kid Cudi is aware of the fact that his audience is composed of high schoolers and adapts his body language accordingly. High schoolers quickly lose interest in things and often space out; to accompany this, Cudi keeps them engaged with lots of energy, smiling, hand signals, eye contact, and voice inflection. High schoolers have to listen to people lecture to them for seven hours a day, so there is nothing worse to them than boring, monotonous speakers. Cudi interacts with them and makes them feel like a part of the speech, not as a separate entity being lectured to.

Lastly, Cudi utilizes pathos in his personal story to connect with the audience and convince them to work hard for their goals at the same time. He emphasizes how he is just a regular person by conceding that he was never the best at school or sports. He identifies with the commonplace that school is important and wishes that he had put more effort into it, showing the kids the importance of education. Even though he is a celebrity with millions of dollars, he still has regrets and longs for knowledge. Cudi even goes so far as to point at specific people in the crowd and to say “I am you” in an effort to show how anyone can achieve their goals. Thus, Kid Cudi employs a variety of rhetorical techniques to demonstrate to a young audience the value of hard work, self-confidence, and education as it relates to success.

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