The most eclectic crew in hip-hop sits down for a once-in-a-lifetime roundtable discussion. It's all G.O.O.D.
This feature appears in Complex's August/September 2012 issue.
Kanye West is presently re-envisioning your world. That’s right, if the 35-year-old multi-disciplinary artist has his way, DONDA will rule everything around us. Seven-screen cinema, womenswear, menswear, design of all kind, even education—he has a plan for it all. But it starts with music. G.O.O.D. Music, to be specific. West has cultivated a wildly diverse range of talents—including John Legend, Common, Kid Cudi, Pusha T, Big Sean, Q-Tip, Mr. Hudson, Teyana Taylor, Cyhi, D’Banj, Hit-Boy and (unofficially) 2 Chainz—and will be releasing the ensemble’s first group album, Cruel Summer, this month. Complex assembled the massive—minus Kanye, who maintained his “no press” policy—for the first time to discuss this project, the crew’s creative chemistry, and West’s new world order.
What does G.O.O.D. Music mean to you?
Big Sean: Quality—the best. Kanye put himself in a class that nobody can match, as far as evolving, progressing, and taking the best of what we learn and making more out of it. So the brand is just being the coolest. We dress the best, we rap the best, we sing the best, we look the best. [All laugh.] It’s about getting the money, but it’s also about changing the world and doing what the fuck we want to do.
Pusha T: And knowing that it’s limitless. That’s the biggest thing that comes with G.O.O.D. Music. You get so much, and the fans get so much, in fucking with this brand. From G.O.O.D. Fridays to these 30-minute movies in the Middle East...
Kid Cudi: —made on a whim.
Pusha: There’s just so much that comes along with the brand, as far as showing people that we can do what we want. There are no limitations.
John Legend: It starts with the name itself. We want to be known for quality. We want to be known for stuff that we all can be proud of. That creativity, that attention to detail, that quality control—that’s what distinguishes us from other folks who might just be chasing a hit. Kanye picks artists who care about making great art. We all want to make money and do well, but we also want to make great art that’s important and interesting.
It starts with the name itself. We want to be known for quality, creativity, attention to detail.
Common: There was a moment in hip-hop when I went to SOB’s and I saw Kanye perform before he came out with The College Dropout. The thing that amazed me was that the “backpack” crowd was there, and then there was the Roc-A-Fella crowd, dudes who were throwing up the Roc. I was like, “Yes.” It reminded me of when I grew up. There was niggas who sold dope that was listening to Rakim and A Tribe Called Quest—and there wasn’t no separation. They just liked it.
What this community does is connect these individuals. There’s somebody who may fuck with 2 Chainz and think, “Aw, Common—he be on that conscious shit.” But because we’re on a song together, they’re going to feel what I do and vice versa.
Cudi: With all due respect to what these guys said, I think we’re missing the main point, which is that we represent honesty, in all aspects. Ain’t nobody fake. Ain’t nobody phony. Niggas are who they are. Everybody is who they are around each other. We’re real. I’m not in other crews. I don’t know how other niggas live, but I know right here that’s one of the main things we represent: honesty and realness. You can just hear it in the music. This ain’t no cookie-cutter shit.