Check these crazy outtakes from Cudder's latest cover story.
This feature appears in Complex's February/March 2013 issue.
On Tuesday, Complex dropped its February/March cover story, starring our frequent collaborator Kid Cudi. As he always does, Cudi kept it more than real with us, opening up on the matter of post-depression therapy, his family, his music, and where he does and doesn't fit in the landscape of today's rap game.
The issue hits newsstands on February 4, but there were some gems that didn't make it into the spread—some of which were a little too hot for print—and we're letting them loose right now. In this exclusive Q&A, Cudi addresses why he quit smoking weed two years ago, and also responds to criticism about the Illuminati imagery used in his "Just What I Am" video.
Read on for more realness…
When you quit smoking weed, was it because other artists were making a big deal about it?
It was a lot of things that factored into the decision. The main thing, like I said, was for my child, just to handle my business. It was also like, yeah man, I didn’t come into the game being Mr. Weed Boy. [Laughs.] I didn’t ask to be dubbed the lonely stoner. I just had this jam. It just happened to be the first song people heard. It started to get too gimmicky and it was a scene now. That’s what I felt. It became a scene. For a while I felt it and I was still doing my thing. I felt it around the time I was doing Man on the Moon II. I was like, “Man, I’m going to make a song called “Marijuana." I felt it would put me deeper in that little pocket. If you ask me, that’s the best smoking song ever made. I went out to achieve and accomplish that.
I just wanted people to see me as an artist. People kept calling me the “Stoner MC” and this guy who always related back to marijuana.
I just wanted people to see me as an artist. People kept calling me the “Stoner MC” and this guy who always related back to marijuana. Marijuana was something I did as a hobby. I just didn’t like being categorized as that because it was such a small part of me and doesn’t define who I am. I hated that. I think all those things fueled the decision to just be like, “Fuck it.” Then it worked. It fucking worked, didn’t it? It separated me from that madness, like that [Snaps fingers.]. Even when I’m coming back now with that “Just What I Am” shit. I’m still separate. Because that trend has faded. That trend is gone. Making a song about getting high is just, you better do it in a cool way, like “Just What I Am.” Just quality.
How do you feel about cliques in rap now?
I think it’s dope. I like to see posses, man. Unity, but I’m such a loner. [Laughs.] It’s weird but I like that. I like seeing niggas just getting it and coming together. I’m not as judgemental as I was early on in my career. I like seeing niggas shine. It was always very competitive for me early on, but now I’m kind of more relaxed because I’ve solidified myself as an artist and what I want. I’ve had complete control over everything and am happy with the course of my career. I think it’s dope to see niggas posse-up and hold each other down. You see that energy—that’s what hip-hop is all about.
One thing that separates you from other rappers is having control over your stuff. Was that established from the beginning, or did it take time?
Yeah, I don’t really care too much about the logistics of the business, like doing certain things to get your music out there. I’m an artist. I just want to make the music and I want it to end right there. I don’t want to focus on anything else. Being that I signed myself to my label and shit when the deal was worked out, I stepped up to the plate and became a boss. The way it worked out was I had my deal set up where nothing can get OK'd without my consent. Nothing can be released unless I say it’s OK. I silently boss around in life. I don’t need to shout it on records. A lot of people have labels and shit like that, but I literally control shit every bit—everything. I’m on it when it comes to that.
Some things lack, too. I feel like my online presence sucks. I’m just not interested in doing like a page—that seems so fucking loserville to me. Like, "Look at my page and my website, with some cool graphics” [Laughs.] Dear God, no. Just give me a Tumblr and shit and I’ll post something on there. [Speaking in a funny voice.] "I fucking hate that website. It’s so old school.” [Laughs.] So you see? That’s how in control I am. I’m so in control that I don’t put any intention of my online presence so it fails. [Laughs.] It’s like the only source is DatNewCudi.com.
But the crazy thing is you’ll release a song and it’ll trend crazy on Twitter.
Yeah, I mean the kids, they support me. That’s dope because they don’t have to. There’s so many different people out there to listen to, so many types of music and so many dope artists—so it’s dope.
You tweeted, “It's a difference between being inspired and tryna be a duplication. You idiots missed my main point in my music and it's individuality.” Was that directed at anyone?
Nah. I’m never thinking of anyone in particular. Ever. I just know those people exist. It’s never one person. I’m never thinking about niggas, ever. I got too much going on to think about niggas. You can tell I don’t think about niggas. I don’t even have to say that. But nah, people don’t grasp the concept of being inspired. It’s just whatever. People just like the same old shit. I remember something that my boy Don C told me: “There’s more corny people in the world than there are cool.” [Laughs.] I was like, “Shit. That makes a lot of sense.” I don’t know. I say these things in the moment and I stand by them but I’m never thinking about anybody in particular.
In the studio you mentioned that rap is really replaceable now. You can take someone off a track and put someone else on and it sounds the same.
Yeah, it’s like, you listen to some of these songs and you don’t know whose albums it’s on. You don’t know whose song it is. [Laughs.] It’s all these niggas hooting and hollering. It’s like, “Man, I want to enjoy this but whose song is this?” If you like it, you can’t even find out who it is. It’s just madness going on and so mundane. I’m not shitting on nobody, but it is what it is. Actual factuals.
WZRD was a little more left even for you. Do you feel any pressure with Indicud being the first project after WZRD?
Nah, I don’t feel no pressure. Those days are over. I feel no pressure. If people like it, cool. If not, cool. I know you’re going to like it. [Laughs.]
When you did this cover shoot, what was it like sitting in a faux casket? Was there any extra thought and sentimental stuff about people you’ve lost?
Nope. I thought it would be weird, and maybe at first it took some adjusting to. Then it ended up being fun. I was playing in the dirt. [Laughs.] Like a 28-year-old man legitimately playing in some dirt. It was all right. It was cool. [Laughs].
Your latest video has a lot of skull imagery and stuff like that. Was that a conscious choice?
Yeah, it’s funny. People in my life know that I’m a fucking goofball. I’m a prankster and I clown a lot. In any moment in time, I’ll incorporate some jokes in my music or raps or whatever. And all throughout my career I’ve noticed that the main thing people try to point out is the Illuminati, Satanic symbols and references in music videos—specifically in my shit. And like, in no way shape or form am I the type of individual that will be ever thinking of that type of shit while we were working on these videos. But it’s so interesting to see how sure of themselves people are, talking about this. It’s like, “No, I know it, I know it! He sold his soul to the devil! I know he’s friends with Satan! I can feel it.” You know what I mean? Niggas be knowing I guess.
I’m not religious, but I am a spiritual person. I believe that there is a God, I believe there is something. In no way would I do no [stuff] like that.
So my way of tricking everybody, being that I had that control, I was like, “Oh man. Wouldn’t it be cool if we just threw a bunch of fucking Satanic devil-worship Illuminati symbols into the video, just like abruptly popping up all over the place and fuck people up?” Just to fuck with them and then not say anything, like wait months and not say shit. Just let ‘em trip out, just let ‘em talk. Ignore it if it comes up in conversation. It was an experiment, like we totally experimented with this. Right now as we speak, it’s still going on. Kids are so outraged.
Why do you think people are so obsessed with that?
Me personally, I think that sometimes it’s people’s explanation to why a nigga could be so successful. It’s like niggas just can’t be successful because niggas got a gift. I just can’t be really good. I had to have sold my soul at one point. “No! He was just a dude before. He worked at Abercrombie & Fitch. He had to suck the Devil’s dick, I promise. I seent it! I had a vision! There was a cock in and around his mouth, I swear! And it was red, red as the Devil’s dick.” Yeah, so it was kind of like my way of being like, “Ha! You idiots. You guys are stupid as fuck, all day long. Shut the fuck up. Got you. Stop being so stupid.” You know what I mean? Like what the fuck are you thinking? I’ll talk about God in every other song. I’m not religious, but I am a spiritual person. I believe that there is a God, I believe there is something. In no way would I do no shit like that.
When Indicud is complete, what are your plans for Man On The Moon III? Do you know yet?
I don’t want to say anything prematurely, but it’s definitely on my mind. It’s something that I’m already, like, masterminding, because I have ideas now how I wanna do it already. So yeah.
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