It’s been four years since Scott Mescudi was summoned to Hawaii by Kanye West to help put together 808s & Heartbreak. Scott, better known as Kid Cudi, made major contributions to multiple songs on the album and the association with 'Ye helped launch his music career.
Back then, Cudi was an unpolished rookie on the music circuit, and it was West who saw greatness in the young Cleveland artist early on. In Cudi’s first Complex cover story (he has now had five), ‘Ye propped Cudi as an originator of the melody-driven, sing-songy raps that populate the current hip-hop landscape. "Me and Cudi are the originators of the style, kinda like what Alexander McQueen is to fashion, everything else is just Zara and H&M," West said in 2009.
Things are different now. Kid Cudi has received multiple Grammy nominations, put out two arguably classic albums (Man On The Moon: The End of Day and Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager), and most recently released genre-bending rock album, WZRD.
As his black SUV pulled up to G.O.O.D. Music's Complex cover shoot, it became clear that he’s more comfortable than ever. Dressed in his standard uniform of a vintage tee and a leather jacket and waxed jeans, both by Balmain, Cudi immediately daps up the crew, and cracks jokes with Pusha T and 2 Chainz. He prides himself on not fucking with other crews, and not only is Cudi loyal, but the once-heralded "Kanye protégé" is his own man.
During different photo shoot looks, we pulled Cud aside to talk just what being a member of G.O.O.D. means to him and what's next for his solo career.
Interview by Joe La Puma (@JLaPuma)
Complex: Are you more comfortable working with Kanye now than you were on other projects in the past?
Kid Cudi: Working with him now is still really scary. He has a specific vision for things and you want to get it right for him. When I don't, I get frustrated with myself. Or, if he misunderstands something and then I'm like, “No. That's not what I meant.” You just want to make it right and contribute. It's a bummer if you don't get what he wants at first, but you just keep at it and it's always a group thing. It's always going to be that pressure. I don't think I'm never going to be comfortable in a studio with him? If that happens, it'd be awesome, but I'm always going to hold him in that high regard. I know some people say, “Oh, I can catch up to the guy that I was up under,” but I can never catch up to 'Ye, even if he stopped now. I still hold him in that much of a regard as a legend so I'm always going to have that.
Everyone in G.O.O.D. Music can stand on their own. How does that play out while working on an album together?
It's awesome because, besides the raps, we've got everybody submitting beats and Pusha will go off and work with his producers and then come into the studio and play us what he made and then we're all like, “Oh shit! Can I jump on that?” And then it's like, “Yeah, you can jump on that!” But then there's also, “I had this one record for you specifically.” Everybody has their vision, and I've never really done any other compilations, but I know how we do, it and how we've been putting it together is a real unorthodox process. But it's dope. It's this really really dope factory of a bunch of creative people. It's dope to watch and be a part of it and just be in the family.
I'm just really happy that everybody embraced me and they don't think I'm too much of a nut job. When you work with your family, it's love behind every record and you want everybody to win.
What is the brotherhood like in G.O.O.D. Music?
It's the only time where I feel like I'm around people that understand me. I felt like an orphan before then. It's good for me, man. I don't really click well with people. I don't know what it is, but everybody in this family, I click with. From 2 Chainz to Big Sean to Q-Tip. I've been seeing Q-Tip since I've started in this business and he's always had my back. You can look online and check. I'm just really happy that everybody embraced me and they don't think I'm too much of a nut job. When you work with your family, it's love behind every record and you want everybody to win. I love hearing Pusha rap. I love hearing his raps, man. It will never get old. I've told him that. And that's the exciting thing. I'm around people that I'm a fan of, that I grew up on and shit, and I can watch them create and do what they do and I can contribute and be a part of history. It's wild.
How is Cruel Summer warming you up for your next project?
I've been writing some really serious raps. I've been writing some shit that's going to fuck people up. And it's about that time that I let niggas know.