Produced by: Anthony Kilhoffer
Anthony Killhoffer: “I engineered a lot for Kid Cudi in the past. I worked on Man On The Moon and I've been engineering with Kanye for like 10 years. I mixed ‘Heart of a Lion’ and ‘Sky Might Fall.’ I engineered all this new shit, too, ‘Mr. Rager’ and ‘Mojo So Dope.’ [I made the beat] around the first of the year when G.O.O.D Music was Hawaii doing work. I was looking into a record and sampling other shit. I found [the sample] watching Austin City Limits, oddly enough. You don't really think of that for a Cudi record, but that's where I first heard the song and I was just like, ‘I gotta get that shit and sample it.’ Cudi thought it was dope and he wanted to use it. And I was like, 'If you like it then let’s make that happen.'

“It sat around for a month. [Cudi recorded the song] February or March. Then they got the idea for Cage in March, so I went back and did additional production. Once Cudi looked at the hook, he had an idea about how the song should sound. I came up with all the effects, like half-timing the hook and the guitar. I did everything that you shouldn't do in a pop format to make a pop song. I made the chorus slower than the verse musically. I didn't have a kick drum on the down beat. Nothing hit on the one of the chorus.”

Cage: “Cudi reached out—I'd say it was about February—and we started talking from there. He said he wanted to do a record together...and then he didn't talk about the records for months. At the time, I was living in New York and we lived like 8 blocks away from each other. We just hung out, smoked weed, played video games. It was weird, I’d worked with people in the past where after a short time you'd go to the studio and work on the song. I think it was like if there was no vibe, then how could there be a working relationship? We just kinda became friends. After a while I would just be sitting in on [studio] sessions. By the time we were doing the song together, there was no 'I don't know what he wants me to do on this.' It was like I knew, you know? And I had a feel for the project already because I'd heard so many songs. It usually doesn't happen that way.

“We would text a lot and he was telling me about the song. At this point we had already been chopping it up for like five months. He came over, played it for me, and he had a verse on it already. He was like, 'You fuckin’ with this?' and I was like, ‘Hell, yeah.’ I sat with it probably for like a week. I just sat with it and I was like, ‘I don't know what to do with this record.’ Writing to it was difficult because after a while it would just be this singing sample over and over. It's like, ‘Why couldn't I get that one that Chip was on?’ [‘The End’] was fucking great. That one was straightforward, I coulda just killed that. I'm like, ‘Fuck, I get the challenging one. I gotta rap over a girl singing.’ [Before, the sample] ran all the way through beginning to end except on the hooks. That's the version that leaked online. I hated that version. I hate doing vocals over vocals. [Now the sample is] not under the verses. And being on a huge record, I wasn't sure how fucked up to get on the record. I just tried to play from the perspective of where the record was going. It's a concept record, so it's like a movie. Everyone's billed as starring, so I tried to fit where the record was going.

“Working with Cudi is cool. That night in the studio [when we recorded the song] I rewrote half of my verse right there. And I remember it being frustrating because the way he works, he's all over the place. He's just working on multiple things. Dude's work ethic is crazy. He told the engineer to play the song so I can write to it, and then after a couple of runs of it he's like, 'I'm going in to do these vocals on this other song.' So, he goes in to this other session [for ‘Mr. Rager’]. He just does a lot of shit. Dude works like a real maniac.

“Like, we did Late Night With Jimmy Fallon the other night. [The next day on Twitter] Dot Da Genius posted a photo of Cudi holding a script from the ‘Maniac’ short film that Shia Labeouf is directing. Shia didn't introduce us, but Cudi recently met Shia over Halloween—that's when we kinda came up with the whole video. With Kanye doing that ‘Runaway’ shit, it's like, “Yo, you can be artistic again.’ It doesn't have to be a regular-ass video, you know? So Shia had this idea and of course we were both like, 'That's fucking crazy.' And now me and Cudi are both holding scripts. And I suspect it's gonna be the craziest shit because when Shia did my video [“I Never Knew You”], that was his first video. You're shooting performance stuff and it's totally not his element. But, this time around it's a short film so this is what that whole crew does. This is their forte.”