I realized I can’t be so controlling. I don’t have this, “Oh my God, I gotta make sure Vada has every toy and every single thing on this planet.” Or “I gotta make sure she does this or that.” I just want her to be a human being. I’ll guide her when she needs help. Sometimes you have to let the universe put things together. I’m letting life guide me so there’s no pressure anymore. It’s a peaceful thing.
Most villains have some type of backstory where they’ve been scarred or abandoned or something crazy. I know I have abandonment issues.
Did that help you be a better father?
No. I was A-plus since day one. That’s what bothered me about that shit that came out [on TMZ about the child custody case]. Why the fuck would I be a deadbeat? I was like, “That’s preposterous.” I didn’t fucking have a dad since I was a kid. I couldn’t wait to have a family and pick up where my dad left off, and be there for my kid.
Why would I not be right there? My daughter was a month premature. So I couldn’t get there but I got there the second day—boom. On it. I don’t fuck around with that shit. That’s my seed. I don’t know what type of people write this stuff. Maybe they’re sad and bummed about their own life. It pisses me off that there’s gossip with my daughter’s name in it and it’s false.
What specifically upset you so much?
The shit that’s crazy is that everything my lawyer said in his response is in the same file. People just picked out the shit that they wanted to post. It’s in the report—actual factuals. I don’t make this shit up and I don’t have nothing to hide. I don’t let the public make me feel bad about shit. I got too many other things that I can do to feel bad about myself.
Even when I got arrested [for criminal mischief and drug possession in 2010], I wasn’t in the media like, “I’m so sorry, I let everyone down.” Fuck that. I’m human. I’m just a dude. I’m trying to figure it out like all these other kids. I’m not going out of my way for these things to happen. I’m not going out of my way to get arrested. I don’t go out of my way to go to court to deal with this bullshit.
What do you take away from all this?
It’s just my life. I’m being tested on so many different things and that’s what makes a human. That’s how we grow.
But there are certain things that I’m still bitter about. I’m using it in the music. That’s why the album is so aggressive. Most villains have some type of backstory where they’ve been scarred or abandoned or something crazy. I know I have abandonment issues. I’m not saying that’s my reason for fucking up the world [laughs] but every villain has their thing and they lash out in their own way.
A lot of that is accompanied by anarchy. That’s what I’m doing: musical anarchy. Fuck the system. I don’t do radio shows. That’s not how I want to project my art. It doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t make me a dick. It makes me someone who doesn’t want to do what everyone else is doing to get music out.
Radio would be 10 times better if it was based on what the kids wanted to hear. It’s not about paying for spins. I don’t believe that’s the only way you can achieve success, by being on the radio a whole bunch. Not in 2012. Fuck out of here. Not with the power of the Internet. I’m proving that.
I’m successful, man. I’m good. I’m not on the radio every day. I’m not kissing ass. I’m not sucking cock. I’m doing what the fuck I want and I’m good. I’m happy. I can go wherever I want, take care of my family, not worry about money. Going on the road I know it’ll be dope. I know kids are going to come out. I’m in a good spot. I don’t have anything to prove.
Listening to your song with Too $hort, “Pretty Girls,” I realized you’ve always been about “no groupies.” Most rappers see groupies as a perk.
It was cool early on, but at 28, it’s a different thing. It’s just not something I’m into. They’re not just fucking with me. They’re fucking with whoever is in town. [Laughs.] All these niggas getting their dicks wet straight up. Girls talking about, “I love your music. Where are you from?” I’ll be like, “Bitch, I’m from Maine.”
You’ve been working with J. Cole. Are there any other people you want to produce for?
Yeah. A$AP [Rocky] and Schoolboy Q. I like those guys a lot. They know this. I would love to produce something for them. Just make a beat and a hook and let them do their thing. I’m down to make a beat and let niggas kill it. That’s fun to me. I can separate myself and not feel like I’m missing out because my production is me. That’s just another way of me showing off.
You only had one song on Cruel Summer. Were you disappointed?
I was a little disappointed. But Kanye had a vision for that. Whatever that vision was didn’t include much of me. [Laughs.] I was bummed because I could’ve contributed. I’m a good asset. But he had a different vision. Everyone that was showcased on the album did their thing and they needed that at that time. The energy was on some hip-hop shit. I was on WZRD, doing my rock shit. But I’m not tripping. “Creepers” was a jam I was holding onto for a while. It was waiting for that perfect platform and it happened to be great for that album. It would’ve been dope to have more. I want to apologize to the fans for not having more. But [sings] Ohhhh it ain’t my fault.
Right after Man on the Moon was done, you texted me, “I’m doing two or three albums and then I’m out.” You’re on your fourth now. What does that mean to you?
I win. That’s what it means. I already ran laps around my peers. [Laughs.] Nah, I’m joking. It was never a competition with us, that whole movement when we first came out. Everyone had their own flavor. Everybody wanted to have their place. We made it a competition but nobody told each other. Looking back, it was silly.
I still feel like I’m not going to be a nigga with 10 albums. I don’t want to be that guy. Once I accomplish one thing and I’m satisfied, I try something else. I may be 50 and doing something totally outside of music and acting. Maybe I’ll become a kindergarten teacher. Then I could be like, “Man when I was 20, I was a rapper,” and still have all these dope-ass jams, mackin’ on all the hot teachers in the school. I could be the school rock star.
WATCH KID CUDI'S EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW:
ADDITIONAL CREDITS: (STYLING) Jenny Ricker. (PROP STYLING) Johnny Law. (GROOMING) Sydney Zibrak. (CLOTHING) OPENING SPREAD: Vintage pants from Palace Costume / Necklace by Lace by Tanaya / Shoes by Generic Man. PREVIOUS SPREAD: Coat by Burberry Prosum / Jeans by A.P.C. THIS SPREAD: Hoodie by the Elder Statesman. Shoes Cudi's own..