Writer: Tracy Garraud
Kid Cudi is living the indie dream. A name once uttered only within the underground scene, Cudi got his cake when the eccentric yet oddly emotive, “Day ‘N Nite”—off his mixtape A Kid Named Cudi—dipped him into mainstream’s radio-friendly pool. During the summer of ’08, Kanye didn’t bet against success for the 25-year-old and immediately reeled the Kid in to work on 808s and Heartbreak while also signing him to G.O.O.D. Music. But that’s just the basics. Cudi’s still got ink stains from a fresh Universal Motown deal, is currently recording his debut Man on the Moon: The Guardians, and is building a lengthy list of check-happy extracurriculars.
So why the hell is he blogging about being misunderstood? RapRadar caught up with the “lonely stoner” to clear the air.
Congrats on the new Universal Motown deal. What made them the right spot for you?
Thank you. Man when I would play Sylvia my records and she would sit there and listen as if it was me. And I always took note of that. There’s things you have to weigh in when coming to the final decision of which label you’re going to. But it always stuck out in my mind that they had that excitement when they first heard my shit.
Yep, you have to be at a place that genuinely supports your movement, not just your now factor. That’s exactly how I felt. When you’re in the position that I’m in where there’s some kind of legitimate hype, it seems like people get caught up in an artist for all the wrong reasons. I was playing shit for certain labels and muthafuckas were just puzzled. I don’t expect everybody to get it, but, at the end of the day, who I’m doing business with, I want them to know where I’m going with shit. ‘Cause what happens when I’m like ‘Yo, I wanna drop this song that has no drums!’ (Laughs) If they never got my music they’re gonna be like ‘What the fuck is that?!’ So it’s basically a good situation with Sylvia where if I wanna drop a song with no drums, she’s all for it (Laughs).
Yeah you need that because once you’re known for avant-garde work, people don’t expect less.
Yeah. That’s why it was important for me to establish that early on and do something different. So now for my whole career, whatever I do that’s out the box won’t be looked at as crazy. It’s like a new standard with me, people just expect me to make some massive shit. Even if I make an ‘okay’ record, people are going to think it’s wack compared to “Day ‘N Nite” or “Sky Might Fall.”
Do those expectations mess with your head?
Well as far as the semi-celebrity-ism (Laughs) that I’m getting. I find it hard to deal with fame anyway. It’s like a new demon in my world that I’m trying to fight on a day-to-day basis. It’s hard to adjust to some shit after you’ve lived a certain way for 25 years. That’s why I get high (Laughs).
Interesting. So is the album going to sound like a continuum of A Kid Named Cudi?
Yeah. I look at it as, the mixtape was a very successful TV series that only had one season…and now the album is the feature length film. The mixtape was me testing the waters. I was like let me see how far left I can go. Muthafuckas grabbed a hold of the Cudi train and I saw it.
That explains the Man on the Moon part of the title, but where does The Guardians come in?
The artists featured on my album won’t play themselves, they’ll play one of my guardian angels and they’ll have a name. Ultimately my guardians keep on the path of this story. It’s pretty much as if I don’t exist, like a myth.
Any “guardians” confirmed yet?
Nah, not yet. I’ve been throwing out ideas though. Me and Kanye haven’t even done our record yet. I’ve been so in the machine of working with Emile, [Plain] Pat and Dot Da Genius because those are the guys who helped me develop my sound. I didn’t necessarily want an album full of all Kanye beats because it would just sound like an album full of Kanye sounds. So I’m definitely playing that card strategically.
Yeah you’ve got to be distinguishable.
People definitely already put me in the Kanye light with the comparisons and such, but being that this is my first project, I really wanna be seen as standing on my own too.
Speaking of standing on your own, how’d you feel when Jim Jones got on “Day ‘N Nite?”
I was like ‘Wow!’ It let me know that the record was hitting all angles. Before Jimmy, I thought it was just like in the indie scene, but he let me know that it was getting respected in hip-hop.
Were you ever concerned that people would relate the song more to him than you?
Nah. The song wasn’t a baby anymore when Jimmy jumped on it. “Day ‘N Nite” was already a senior in high school and Jimmy gave it that muthafuckin’ scholarship (Laughs).
You’ve blogged plenty times about clearing up media misconceptions. In your eyes, are new artists an easy target for people to toy with?
Yeah because we’re new and they don’t know us. It took a long time for muthafuckas to understand who Nas was. It took a long time for people to understand who Jay-Z was and these guys are legends. I’d rather you take a long time to understand who I am, rather than say, ‘Oh I know who that guy is. He made this song about sippin on this drink, doing this and that.’ I don’t wanna be that. I wanna be a legend in the game.
Is that why you called out Complex for “sneak dissing” you on their website last week?
Yeah. I wasn’t like angry. It takes a lot to get me mad, but when I saw it, I was like “Ehhh, this is wack.” That writer who wrote that shit, he thought it was funny. But it was just not funny. It was poor in taste. That shit’s not cool. Talking about personal issues and financial issues. Then we’d be wrong if we were to see that dude in the street and whoop his ass. Then we’d be out of line. Good thing we ain’t confrontational muthafuckas…well, Charles Hamilton is (Laughs). You can’t be coming out your mouth talking about other muthafuckas. Never underestimate the next man, especially somebody you talking shit about.
You’ve spoken at length about being really proud of the second single “Sky Might Fall.”
“Sky Might Fall” is just a larger than life record. It feels so massive. When I made it, I was like, ‘I’m going to save this to the point where people think all I have is “Day ‘N Nite” and this mixtape.’ Then I’m just going to crack heads open. Wide. That’s how I felt because muthafuckas be standoffish with me.
Why you say that?
Because they don’t get it necessarily. They don’t fuck with the lyrics. They think it’s just too um ABC, I guess. Muthafuckas don’t think my flow is as intricate as it is. But it’s all about my word play and the feeling behind it.
So in your own words, who is Kid Cudi?
Pretty much, I feel like I’m here to be a messenger and spread a message. And that’s all I am. God put me through many tests to see if I was fit for the job and I passed with flying colors. So I am now his hire. And what I will do is continue to tell my story, because it’s something that people need to hear. That’s who Kid Cudi is. That’s the Man on the Moon.
Bonus: “Sky Might Fall”