MC: How do you feel about “features”—guesting on other artists’ records? Couldn’t it dilute your own brand/identity?
Kid Cudi: Early on I did these [features] records because the checks looked good, but I wasn’t really feeling the features. After, I was like fuck that, I’m not doing features just because they’re giving me money; I don’t like these songs and it doesn’t make me feel good. That’s not how I wanna do things. And I’m really happy I made the decision and now people say I never do features. That’s what I want—a certain quality! I’m not going to whore myself. When you think about it, it’s like every time you do a feature with another artist it’s like you’re sleeping together; so it’s like everybody’s fucking each other, like an orgy. That’s the way I look at it. It’s like the neighborhood bicycle, everybody gets a free ride. And it ends up being like, ugh, whatever.
MC: There’s also the opportunism aspect of features. Jumping on somebody else’s horse.
Kid Cudi: I’m not an opportunist, I’m not going to be like, “Oh, that nigga is hot right now I need to do a record with him so I can be relevant.” My mind would never click to that channel. And I’m no fool, I see a lot of these artists who do that strategically, where they took all the niggas that were in the top rotation and were like, “Ya’ll niggas need to do a record.” But sometimes that shit don’t work [and the records flop]. Sometimes it’s art over power. Indicud came out and I did 140,000 [albums sold] and I had no hot artist on it, nobody on it.
See, you need to stop trying to act like you can read the consumer and manipulate people. Just make the music. Make it real, make it pure. People know. These kids aren’t stupid. I know people who don’t even listen to the radio anymore. They turn to the Internet to hear the music they want to hear and they stand by it. The only people who are subjected to the radio nowadays are kids getting picked up from school by their parents. They’re still the teenyboppers who beg their parents to “buy me this album!”
MC: How old do you think they need to be to understand Kid Cudi?
Kid Cudi: It’s interesting, sometimes I got 13-year-olds who want to come to my show and just get it. They’re like the kids that walked around my school with Pink Floyd shirts on. We were like 15, and I was like, “What the fuck is Pink Floyd?” It’d be like some stoner white kids whose parents got them into it and they’d be like. [In white stoner accent] “Dude, you don’t even know.” And I was like you’re just a stoner kid; you probably drop acid and hang with the burnouts, whatever. It took me a decade to finally find out what Pink Floyd was! But it’s crazy, because right now, there’s a 15-year-old kid at school wearing a Kid Cudi t-shirt and there’s somebody looking at him like, “What the fuck?”
MC: The Crookers’ remix of “Day ‘n’ Night” is genre-bending; do you see yourself making more EDM?
Kid Cudi: A-Trak chose to have the Crookers remix “Day ‘n’ Night.” He’s responsible for it. He asked me to do it and I said I didn’t know. I immediately thought of Abercrombie & Fitch techno, and I had no knowledge of this [EDM] world other than I trusted his judgment. Then I did research on the Crookers and thought, this could be a big thing. That fusion, singlehandedly changed everything, it was like the Big Bang. And from there people just got on board and raped it, and raped it so hard it’s corny now; it’s like I will never want to make another song that sounds like that ever. I’m always moving, you gotta be if you’re a leader. You gotta move into the uncharted.
MC: There is also much anticipation for another MOTM (Man on the Moon: The End of Day) record. What can we expect from that?
Kid Cudi: Man on the Moon III will show a whole other level of maturity, and it will answer a whole lot of questions. There’s a lot of missing links between MOTM and MOTM II. I also think that they were both very ignorant albums, so I think I’ll eliminate a lot of that ignorance.
You’ll see it coming from a person who is looking at things from a more mature mindset, with more understanding and growth. I want people to be able to put this album on at different points in their lives and grow with me. This series was meant to show me grow as a man and it would not be right to do MOTM III and have me talking about driving drunk. I didn’t want people to listen and feel like, “Oh he’s giving us a lesson,” rather than be entertained, but I’m not condoning that shit, that’s not cool. When I’m singing about driving drunk on “Pursuit of Happiness” on MOTM, you may remember that it was a nightmare. It was meant to be scary, the craziness, the fact that this person chooses to look for happiness in substances; and that’s scary, that’s a terrible combination, that’s a terrible way to go about things.
MOTM III will really be answering the biggest question: Have I found happiness? And it will lead people on in life, because there will not be another MOTM after MOTM III. It will send people off feeling satisfied.
MC:You’ve got your own imprint now [via Republic], Wicked Awesome Records, and recently signed King Chip. Do you see a whole roster of artists in the future?
Kid Cudi: I don’t have that inspiration right now, maybe down the line. I need to focus on Chip, get him where he needs to be. But my label was really designed so I could have control over my own music. It was for me more than anything else. It wasn’t like I was thinking I have to have my own Cash Money Records. I don’t have the time or the patience; I’m already stressed out enough doing my own shit.