By now you've probably read our August/September cover story with Kid Cudi, and although it was Cudi's most personal interview yet, there were a lot of other gems Scott gave us that didn't make it into the magazine.
Let's just say Cudi kept it 1-hundred with us, like all the way 1-hundred. Since the issue is now officially on newsstands everywhere (go cop!), we figured we'd share the bonus material that was left on the cutting room floor. In the uncut raw conversation, the kid from Cleveland talks about growing up in Ohio, his eagerness to join the Navy, run-ins with the law, and how he really felt when Consequence took a jab at him. Read on for the realness...
Interview by Joe La Puma
Complex: How vital was your mom to you growing up?
Kid Cudi: My mom was like my mom and my dad. Even though my dad was around, he just wasn't in the house. She really was like superwoman. Recently I was talking to my mom and I was just like, "How did you take care of us?" It took me a lot for her to finally come out and say that there were some nights where she wouldn't eat because there was only enough food for us. She didn't have a bed, my mom didn't sleep in a bed up until I was about 14. She always slept on the couch. We just couldn't afford one. When she finally got one, she kinda just put it up in the living room. The first thing you saw in my crib was her bed.
Complex: So growing up, would you say that you guys were poor?
Kid Cudi: Back then I always felt poor because at the school that we went to, the majority of kids had money. It was like we got the ill Make-A-Wish Foundation dream—to live in a nice neighborhood with a shitty circumstance. It was sorta like, "Hey we're gonna put you in this nice neighborhood but you're still gonna be hood-esque!" So it was a mind-fuck going to school and seeing the kids that had shit like cars, and I couldn't even get a bike. That's why when people are like, "Oh man, you from the suburbs and shit," I be like, "You don't know what happened in my muthafuckin' house." It's not about where you're at, it's about your life and what you've been through, what you've done.
Complex: When did you start rapping?
Kid Cudi: I started rapping when I was like 12, just around the neighborhood, just spittin' little lines here and there with my homies. One of my homeboys Dennis—he tours with me sometimes—me and him used to always rap around the neighborhood with a couple other kids and we had this little group and shit and I was the only one who kinda stuck with it. When I was like 15, Hot Boys came out, and I remember seeing Lil Wayne and being like, "Aw shit man, this is a young dude representing for the youth and I wanna do that, but tell my story." That's when I stopped doing good in school—because I knew I was gonna be famous. [Laughs]
Complex: What was your journey like once you started rapping?
Kid Cudi: I used to do a lot of open-mic things and freestyle battles to better my raps. I looked at it as training for a bigger picture. I was going through a time right there where I wasn't being myself in my music because I was too worried about people criticizing me about where I was from. That was just because at that time, rap was pretty much some gangsta shit. It wasn't until I was about 18 when I started fooling around doing freestyles on CDs. When I went to college is when I started recording an album.
Complex: You didn't graduate from college though, right?
Kid Cudi: I did one year of college and left school with a decent demo. I thought it was cool, but it wasn't fresh fresh. I was always the type of person that I don't want people to hear these half-ass records, so I never let people hear them. I used to work overtime at my job to get extra money to buy beats and these dudes The Kickdrums would sell me beats for like $200 a pop. I was really buying them. That's why it's crazy that we're all coming up and doing things and I'm like, "Y'all remember me, ya'll made me pay for beats you muthafuckas [Laughs]. Ya'll made me work overtime just to get $200!" And I bought like 3 beats from them. The journey definitely started a little bit early on. After college, I took a year off. I was 19. That's when I was just trying to figure out what I wanted to do and the idea of moving out of Cleveland was there but it wasn't a real solid idea.
Complex: What made you decide to move?
Kid Cudi: Before I decided to move I came up with the idea to go to the Navy. I watched maybe a little too much Antwone Fisher that month, I don't know. However, I was inspired to be a better man. There was a moment in time where I was really focused on the Navy and I followed through with it, I passed the test. I was happy with myself because I was accomplishing something and I was really working towards a goal. That was the first true thing I invested my energy in. I was really excited about it, I mean now I look at it like, "I was fucking crazy." But I was really excited about going to the military. When I got all the medical tests and everything, they said that they wouldn't let me in because of my police record from when I was younger.
Complex: Why did you have a record?
Kid Cudi: When I was like 16, I went out with my friends after school to watch these kids fight. I was just standing around as a spectator but when the police came around some snitching was involved, [and] my name was one of the names that was brought up, like "Scott Mescudi was there!" It was nothing intense, no felonies, just knucklehead shit like that. Those muthafuckas filed charges and called them assault charges even though I never put my hands on anybody. But that shit was on the record—doesn't matter what happened.
Complex: Was that your only run-in with the law?
Kid Cudi: Well, I got arrested for smoking. I was 17, had a cigarette on my ear, drunk at a high school football game. I was raging, ragetastic. The cops told me to come over and they cuffed me. Then, on top of that, I got arrested in University of Toledo for underage drinking at a party and I physically got into it with a cop. He cuffed me and punched me in the face and really brutally kicked my ass to the point where I could've pressed charges, but it's like, we didn't have money for lawyer fees and court fees and all that shit and it would've been a dead issue. That was early 2004.
Complex: You've managed to stay clean since being in the spotlight, aside from the infamous Reebok situation...
Kid Cudi: My argument never changed. People can say what they want, the topic's been done, but I don't give a fuck about anything other than right or wrong. They were wrong. I reacted. I might've been wrong for reacting so ridiculously over the top, but like I said, I'm a maniac sometimes. The dude who approached me in that situation, I haven't had a dude approach me like he wanted to fight me in years. The last time I had a fight, I was like 16 or 17 years old. Muthafuckas ain't been tryin' to fight, especially where I was at in Cleveland. Niggas don't fight no more, you get shot the fuck up. This dude just was up in my face aggressively, and I snapped. I didn't know what to do. I'm not no tough guy, I'm not trying to be. Everybody has that angry emotion and mine just surfaced that night. I don't regret that shit one bit; I did what I had to do.
CLICK NEXT TO READ MORE, INCLUDING CUDI'S THOUGHTS ON HIS COMPETITION IN THE RAP GAME...