In cooking, there is the idea of the amuse-bouche. It is an hors d'oeuvre eaten in a single bite and served at a chef’s discretion. The purpose is twofold: give the patron a snapshot into the journey they are about to take over the course of a meal, and encapsulate a chef’s beliefs. Kanye and Cudi’s relationship works in a very similar way. It is Kanye’s job to employ and hone Cudi’s superb sense of melody and hook-writing, while it is Cudi’s job to usher fans into a new soundscape that encapsulate Kanye’s larger vision. This generally happens on the second track of Kanye’s late-career albums—”Welcome to Heartbreak,” “Gorgeous,” “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1.”
Last week Page Six reported Kanye and Cudi are working on a secret project in Japan. It immediately punted fans back to a time circa 2008-2010 when the upper reaches of Kanye and Kid Cudi’s synergy were still being explored. Jay-Z and Kanye West might be rap’s collaborative monolith; Watch the Throne was two of hip-hop’s greatest and most prolific stars conceding ground to each other in the short-term to extend their dominance in the long-term. However, Jay-Z and Kanye’s collaborations have always had an air of formality, more business transaction than friendship. In that regard, Kanye West’s best collaborator remains his once-protege, writing partner, and G.O.O.D. Music signee.
Ever since 2008’s 808s & Heartbreak, Cudi has vocally gone where Kanye couldn’t, and Kanye has perfectly positioned Cudi within the confines of his vision. The idea of the two extending that chemistry across a project is as intriguing as it is promising. Here are the best Kanye and Kid Cudi collaborations to demonstrate how far the two could potentially push hip-hop again.