Complex: We talk about this a lot, but you're a big people person in the public, but also like to keep to yourself. How do you balance the two?
Kid Cudi: I'm a people person when I'm out, but I'm a homebody. I like my time and peace and quiet. I guess that stems from being younger; my siblings were older than me and once they hit a certain age, they couldn't hang with me. So it was almost like I was an only child at some point. I was entertaining myself, playing with toys. I did this for a while until I was in my teens, just chilled and entertained myself. I would rap and dance in the mirror and shit like that and make funny faces. I was always good at entertaining myself; you could catch me doing it a lot. I just like laugh to myself and do a dance or some shit.
Complex: With your dad passing away at a fairly early age, what did you miss out on in terms of a father-son relationship?
Kid Cudi: Eleven is that age when you're growing up and you're learning about girls, and how to make that transition from boy to a man. I didn't have that father figure there, all I had was my mom who was this caring, loving lady. I think that's why I kind of have that loving piece of my persona, it's from my mom. Also, I get that "I don't take no shit" mentality from my mom, because my mom is the ultimate diva. She's always been a strong black woman, and someone I admired. When my dad died, I had to look to her for inspiration and to make me learn.
Complex: Speaking of inspiration, I know "Day N' Nite" was inspired by your uncle, who passed away from cancer. How did that affect you?
Kid Cudi: I was just dealing with so much. I've mentioned this in other interviews but not as detailed. Like, "Oh, I was going through a lot of shit at the time." But it's some real shit, man, muthafuckas were struggling. I almost didn't get a chance to see my uncle before he passed. He was Muslim and his funeral wasn't this big extravagant funeral, he just wanted to be in this pine box. We took him to the cemetery, we buried him, and out of all the funerals I've been to...like, we always left before they put the body in the ground; some people can't handle that visually. But we just stood there like he wouldn't want it any other way. And when they put the dirt on him I was like, if it wasn't for this man I wouldn't be here.
Complex: How do you keep all those emotions from affecting you emotionally?
Kid Cudi: As men, we tend to build up anger and all types of shit. Walking around with all that testosterone like, "Beat a muthafucka!" So you get angry niggas, just a bunch of muthafuckas who probably haven't cried in a little while [Laughs.] Once I get angry, there's no turning back, it's sort of an on/off switch, good and bad, there is no in-between. A lot of people see that side and wonder if it's cockiness. That's why it's really bothered me as of late, 'cause I hear a lot of people calling me cocky and conceited or a jerkoff and I'm really not. I don't fuck around, though. The people that are saying that are muthafuckas who I cut business with—they didn't do business correctly, and I had to snap on 'em.
Complex: Fair enough...
Kid Cudi: What Bun B said is probably the realest shit I ever heard. When he was on MTV and they said give a little advice to Cudi and he said, "Make sure you can take what you can from a situation, 'cause there are gonna be a lot of muthafuckas who are gonna try to take what they can from you." So the last thing I want to do is be suckered and bamboozled. My situation is set up so great at Motown and with Kanye that I can't lose, but I have to stand up for my shit.
Complex: You've got a great deal, but other newcomers have pretty good situations too, like J. Cole at Roc Nation and Drake at Universal. Are you looking forward to any healthy battles with other artists?
Kid Cudi: Man, I don't care about that shit. What music should be about is standing out on your own to the point where you can't compare niggas. Like, "Man, you can't compare Kid Cudi to anyone!" I'm incomparable. I'm in my own zone and I work hard to be in my own zone. To try different, experimental things but do them in good taste. Some people get caught up and are like, "Aw man, Kid Cudi is doing collabs with all these indie bands. Maybe I should do that too!" And then they put the wack-ass rap over some electro Justice beat and think it's some new shit just 'cause Wale did it. You have to do shit in good taste. You can't just rap over some electro shit, you have to understand that scene. I understand that scene because I came up in that scene. So all my shit is really experimental and I'm trying to keep my sound and stay in my own realm. Some people you can't just put in a battle.
Complex: And the comparisons between you and Drake...
Kid Cudi: Everyone loves competition. Like when they tried to make it seem like Drake and I had a beef and I had to take it to my blog and be like, "I just talked to this dude, I have his cellphone number, we text sometimes, there's no beef." Maybe we'll do a Best of Both Worlds type shit. Bring Canada and United States together, who knows.
Complex: You've managed to stay out of beef pretty well, but what about the whole Consequence situation that happened early on when you were signed to G.O.O.D.?
Kid Cudi: He took it like I gave him a dry "what up" at the Q-Tip party, like I was trying to play him. But I was just completely obliterated out of my skull. And what I found strange was that I spotted him and made my way through the crowd to see him so I don't see where the confusion would've come from, but I just would've liked for him to hit me up first. We're human beings and sometimes we move off emotion. He felt disrespected and he felt like he had to do what he had to do. Me, personally, I would've just called the man and said "What's poppin?" I would think twice before saying some negative shit, because we're all in the same fam and the alliances have been made. So we talked about it and you know he apologized and everything was kinda like whatever. I told him how I felt he told me how he felt; we respected each other's opinions, and that's why we were able to flip it and keep it moving so quickly.
Complex: It was odd for him to put out that video, no?
Kid Cudi: It was like, "I wish I could just talk to him and see what's wrong," but the video was so aggressive that it put me in the "fuck it" mindset. No sweat off my sack, I didn't do anything wrong, God knows I didn't do anything wrong. I'm a fan of Consequences' work, so I'm glad we were able to talk and squash it and it was daps and pounds. And ever since then me and Cons' been tight. Ya'll seen it from doing records and shows together. I got a joint that I'm doin' on his album which is really fresh; I did a hook for him and you know, G.O.O.D music is on the move. It's an alliance.
Complex: Obviously your fame level has increased recently, what part of the celebrity life has taken you back so far?
Kid Cudi: The paparazzi.
Complex: Really? What's that been like?
Kid Cudi: I was at this show in LA at this club called My House, and a lot of people were there—Jessica Alba and her husband, Rihanna, all types of famous people were there. When I left there were paparazzi everywhere, just swarming all over the complex and the parking lot with their cameras. It was just like roaches on a bowl of cereal, I ain't never seen some shit like that before. It was so crazy 'cause they didn't snap pictures of me 'cause they don't know who I am. I'm not some super-duper-star. I'm not in the limelight like that... yet. It was just crazy to see it actually, 'cause you really don't ever see it like that. You see everything the camera shoots, you don't see behind the lens. How it looks having like 20 muthafuckas chasing you and shit. Behind your car on foot, on bike, in other cars. Just to get a shot of you, it's crazy!
Complex: Are you looking forward to that day? When they're snapping your picture?
Kid Cudi: Nah, 'cause I like my privacy. I'm looking forward to fucking around with them though. Just like joking around with them, 'cause I feel like if you build up a kind of cool relationship with the paps, they'll kind of ease up on you a little bit. You show them a little bit of love, like "Hey man, I'm just trying to chill." 'Cause they're all aggressive, they're built to not give a fuck about what you say [Laughs.] They're built to hear you ask to be left alone and they just say "but come on man, just take one picture!" They're built to not give a fuck or understand your situation, to be very insensitive. So I feel like you just gotta be cool with them, and be a little bit chill.