Cudi's just about ready to drop his third solo album. And, as usual, it's getting done on his terms.
You’re not built to be a pop star.
No at all. I’m just designed to be a real nigga. I get that from my father and that’s just what it is. And when I tried not to be, then I went crazy. In a world that I’m not supposed to be a part of, I went crazy. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
I’m not going to no award shows unless I’m nominated. Like, why am I going to be there, seeing people win that ain’t better than me? What’s the point of going? It’s worthless for me. In time, when I get acknowledged, I’ll come and I’ll have a purpose. Otherwise, niggas don’t need to see me. For what? I ain’t got no friends in this shit.
What’s your relationship with your label like? You seem pretty self-reliant. You even directed your last two videos.
[I tell them], “Okay, we’re going to shoot the first video. Let me get the budget.” They give me a budget. I work on the treatment. And my treatments are really simple. I really don’t have to do one, because I’m the one that’s directing. I know what I want. The shoot is all about getting my people together and executing it. On my set, it’s very fuckin’ ‘laxed. It’s not stressful at all. We’re getting the shots and we’re getting out of there. Filming those videos were the first moments for me getting behind the camera and directing anything. And the shit came out so great. I’m really happy of those projects. It was just a dope-ass experience. I got my paper. I got my crew. We shot it in a day. Both videos.
You don’t listen to the radio. How do you come across new music?
I’m not ever searching for new music. I can’t. I just sort of stumble upon things. It’s cooler when I stumble upon stuff. If I’m at a store or whatever, I’ll fuckin’ Shazam it and find it that way. I’ve never searching, because on the search you consume so much bullshit. I just don’t want to fill my head up with no bullshit.
The overall theme of this interview is “No bullshit.”
Yeah. It’s just so easy to make money in rap music. I’m pretty sure that people think, “Why is this nigga so passionate? Why he won’t he just shut the fuck up and get this money?” Because it’s not rocket science. Anybody can make some of these songs and get this money. But it’s about standing for something. If you’re just about ballin’ and shit, you’re just falling for the fuckin’ money. That doesn’t make a man. You’ve got to stand for something and believe in something. I’m more than money. I’m way more than that. I’m way more powerful than the radio and all of that shit. It’s a lifestyle. I’m into motherfuckers’ lives, when they wake up and when they go to sleep.
I guide people that really need hope. It’s just a sad thing to see motherfuckers not really giving a fuck about the power that they have. They can touch people in a major way. I’m not saying everybody needs to be making music like me. But for fuck’s sake, people aren’t even trying! Niggas ain’t even trying, G. It’s just sad that the money is all it’s about for some niggas. Who are you? What do you stand for? And the end of the day, who are you as a human being when you go to sleep and wake up? Who the fuck are you? Niggas have been in this business for years and you still don’t know who they are as human beings. And they don’t give a fuck. People don’t even have shit to look up to anymore. When I was a little nigga and I was listening to ‘Pac, I was like, “That’s my hero.” He stood for something.
Now niggas don’t believe in nothing but pussy. They be chasing these hoes and shit. Pussy this, pussy that. These bitches ain’t got nothing for you, man. But bullshit. They need to get it together. Man, I love pussy just as much as he next nigga. But at the end of the day, life ain’t about that—especially when you have the power of music in your hands. You have to do better than that for these little homies looking up to you and shit, listening to our music. You’ve got the platform to reach motherfuckers and teach them something. Everybody’s trying to be tough. Everybody’s trying to be hard. But nobody’s living that life. Niggas are in the studio, buying expensive clothes and driving cars. Niggas are out here as adults, living through a façade. Niggas need to grow up.
That’s why the niggas that listen to the radio are all fuckin’ kids. Adults don’t listen to the radio. They want to listen to some mature shit. My fan base is mature-ass kids and adults. Straight up. If your shit can be played on “Glee,” you make music for children for the most part. With the exception of certain songs and certain artists. Like Hov’ or ‘Ye. [Laughs] My nigga’s excluded. And some shit is just pop culture.
I know you’re not in tune with pop culture, but do you know about this “Harlem Shake” sensation?
Man, I heard that the Harlem shake came back. I just couldn’t believe it. I don’t know how. I don’t know the details about it. But I know I feel like an old man, hearing about the Harlem shake. That shit was a thing when I was in school. That’s over 10 years ago. [Laughs]
How competitive are you with your music peers? It doesn't seem like you really want to be a multi-platinum artist.
The first time around, I wasn’t very competitive. I think I went out of my way not to be. And this time around I think I’m trying to be more competitive. But like I’ve said before, I can’t think about the numbers. Of course I want to do well. But it’s in God’s hands. I know my shit is dope. I know once I send my shit in to mastering, I have cosigned on the freshness. [Laughs] I’m not sending my music in with doubts. When this comes out, I’m going to be completely satisfied like I’ve always been. It’s always been a role of the dice. And we’ll see what happens. Shake and bake.
Speaking of movie quotes, that’s a “Billy Madison” quote at the top of “Immortal,” right?
Hell yeah! That’s one of my favorite movies, man. From my childhood, straight up. I love Adam Sandler. Throughout the album I wanted to include clips from some of my favorite movies to kind of narrate the album a bit and liven it up and give it some personality.
So throughout the album, people will hear scenes from different movies?
Yeah, different actors will pop up periodically. That’s how I felt when I finished the song. “Oh my God. It’s so good!” [Laughs] So there had to be a way that I could express myself. So I had to find some of my favorite quotes from my favorite movies. I put on “Billy Madison” and just watched that. There were so many lines that I picked that were great. But “I’m the smartest man alive!” resonated with me. And Adam Sandler is like a god to me. He’s so amazing. I just wanted to pay homage through song and let him know, like, “You’re the shit!”
I know you’re still figuring things out, but what songs do you think are definitely going to make the “Indicud” cut?
I can’t say just yet. It’s a lot of curve balls on there. I’ve done a lot of collabs with people that, on paper, people are going to be like, “Oh shit!” It’s already been put out there that I did a song with Too Short. I can wait for people to hear that. That’s one of those jams that you wouldn’t expect and it’s exactly what you expect of Kid Cudi. There’s a lot of energy. It’s one of my favorites.
RZA for sure is on there. Too Short and Kendrick Lamar is on there. I got a session with A$AP [Rocky] tonight. So we’ll see what happens. We’ve been working the last couple of days. I got this group called Haim.
The all-female indie rock group. I’m familiar.
Yeah, they’re fuckin’ wicked. I love them. They came to the studio with dope energy. I’d work with them any day. They’re so dope. We were able to do a jam with something me and Hit-Boy did. It’s a song that we’ve been trying to make happen for, like, two years now. I had the idea to get the girls on it and we reworked the beat a little bit. That will definitely be on there.
It’s next level. Everything on this album is next level, man. It’s totally, like, the coldest shit. People are going to be like, “What are we doing wrong?” You’ve just got to bring the madness sometimes.