On the ninth floor of a luxury apartment building in NYC’s Tribeca neighborhood, the hallway is thick with the aroma of green. While a mix of young couples and well-off college grads populate the building, the reason for the heady atmosphere is a brand-new tenant. His mail comes to Scott Mescudi, but you know him better as Kid Cudi—rapper, Cleveland transplant, and all-around weirdo.
Yeah, we said it. Dude is strange. Case in point: Armadas, the giant wolf (OK, it’s a statue) that Cudi keeps in his crib to “hold him down.” Want more? He lives alone, but his kitchen table is meticulously set for four. Then again, it makes more sense once you give it some thought; Cudi’s always been somewhat of a solitary figure. He lost his father to cancer when he was 11, lashed out at school, and eventually left the only world he knew to come to New York by himself on a quest he wasn’t even sure he believed in. Now, at 25, his pain is still deep, although it’s hard to tell when in his company; spend a few hours with him and he’ll crack jokes, maybe talk in odd voices. He’s a bundle of contradictions, enough to make you wonder which side of him you’re going to meet next. The lonely stoner or the people person? The class clown or the prisoner of his own paranoia? Let the analysis begin...
After working a lot with Kanye, how does it feel to be focused on your own career?
It’s exciting, man. I’m just ready to try new shit. I’m a dude who likes to create music with good feeling. I live like a chameleon through music. It all depends on what the beat tells me to do; that’s why you’re always gonna get passionate hooks, because I’m feeling the beats and the emotion behind the drums and melodies.
Are you worried about recapturing the success of “Day ’N’ Nite”?
I was briefly, and then I started to record and just make shit. That’s when I realized I’m going to be OK. Shit is going to come together as it should, don’t worry about it. I didn’t come in the game to just do that one joint, you know what I mean? I came in the game to have multiple hits.
What kind of fears do you have about releasing your album?
I don’t really have any fear about the business; my biggest fear is getting wrapped up in the illusion of fame and Hollywood and shit like that. Getting wrapped up in the worldly things like drugs and the excitement of being famous. I have a vulnerable enough past that it could propel me into that world. I don’t want to be caught up in it. I want to do something while I’m here. This is hell. All the shit that’s going on around us, this is hell.
What’s hell about it?
Just turn on the fucking news.
But do you feel like your own world is hell sometimes?
Yeah. Most of my groupies are spawns of the devil. [Laughs
.] They’re there to take me off track and fuck up my purpose. It’s like the dark side is trying to pull me in. Who wouldn’t
like a bunch of hot-ass bitches saying, “Hey, we all wanna fuck you right now!”? [Laughs
.] But you have to realize that it’s an illusion, that you can get caught up, turn into a person that you never knew you could be—and I don’t wanna be that dude.
Did you ever have an experience with a groupie that backs that up?
There was a moment when I was at this club and I was getting attention from all these chicks. At one point one was talking and gazing into my eyes all beautiful and shit—so fuckin’ hot—and all of a sudden it seemed like time slowed down and everything got muffled, and in my brain I was just like, “This girl is the devil.” And I immediately got up and wanted to leave. I was kinda tripping balls anyway. [Laughs
Has the girl situation really been that crazy?
Man, I was always the ugly duckling; I never got attention from girls like that. So now that it’s happening, I’m kind of hip to it. I know half of these bitches wouldn’t be talking to me if I wasn’t Kid Cudi, and I’m not no fool, you know what I’m saying? I wasn’t born yesterday.
So how do you deal with that?
I just don’t want to get wrapped up in that world, so I keep to myself. I’m more like an actor-celebrity, rather than a rapper-celebrity. Actors keep to themselves, they’re very reserved, you only see them at premieres and shit like that. I’m not that dude who always wants to be seen and shit and goes to these industry events—I’ll go out if need be, and that’s what it is.
Do you consider yourself a weirdo?
“Weird” itself, even in the dictionary, is just something that is different and unexplainable.
A weirdo is someone who follows their heart. I’m definitely weird, ain’t nothing wrong with that.
Is that a product of having your dad pass away?
My dad was Superman to me. He was the coolest. When he died of cancer, it was like my world was destroyed—I just went from seeing my dad normal to seeing my dad sick and then seeing my dad where he couldn’t even recognize me. My heart crumbled. I cried, but it wasn’t because I was sad, it was because I was pissed, like, “What the fuck?! Why?” But that’s when I started to want to express myself through words and rhymes.
You told me that you slept next to your mom until you were 12.
.] Yeah. After my father died, I used to have some really bad nightmares that any kid would have when a relative passed away. My mom tried, but there was nothing that could fill that void, even to this day. It was night terrors, more intense than nightmares, and I never got help for them—I had to fight them off myself because I didn’t know what they were. It was these intense illusions of my mom dying or me dying and nobody caring, shit like that.