What JAY-Z is to Kanye West, Ye is to Kid Cudi. Since signing him in 2008, the two artists have had a dynamic duo/big brother relationship, finding common ground with a creative connection that saw both breaking ground in rap and pioneering its use of experimental music.
Prior to his solo material, Cudi had contributed to many Kanye productions, such as JAY-Z's The Blueprint 3 and West's 808s & Heartbreak. The pair have collaborated on numerous hits including "Erase Me" from Cudi's 2010 album Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, "Gorgeous" and "All of the Lights" from Ye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and more recently, "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" from The Life of Pablo. However, as much as we all love Kanye and Cudi together, their relationship has been rocky. Through Twitter rants and mental breakdowns, the two music legends have dealt with many ups and downs over the course of their careers.
Kanye made a return to social media these past weeks, bombarding Twitter with creative advice and inspirational tidbits alike. He also used the platform to drop surprise announcements of G.O.O.D. Music albums on the way, disclosing that Pusha T and Teyana Taylor have new albums on the way, arriving respectively on May 25 and June 22. Nas will also be dropping an album produced by Kanye on June 15, but the biggest news came when he announced a joint project with Cudi called Kids See Ghost. Due out June 8, a week after Ye's own 7-track solo album, fans are already in a frenzy - with the initial tweet getting over half a million likes.
As fans get hype for the release of Kids See Ghost, let's take a look at the rollercoaster relationship between Kanye West and Kid Cudi.
2008: Cudi Signs to G.O.O.D. Music
You could argue that fate brought Kanye and Cudi together. In 2008, while Scott Mescudi was working at the BAPE NY store, he met West for the first time after forgetting to remove an anti-theft device from a jacket West had purchased.
Later that year, Kid Cudi released his first mixtape, A Kid Named Cudi, which contained his debut hit single “Day N’ Nite”. The music caught the attention of Kanye, whose then-manager Plain Pat, had introduced Cudi's music to him, subsequently leading West to sign Cudi to his G.O.O.D. Music label.
It didn’t take long before both were in the studio together crafting heat. We all know Cudi is a master hook maker, and Kanye put it to great use after signing him. Mescudi served up two harmonic melodies for both Ye’s “Welcome to Heartbreak” on 808s & Heartbreak and JAY Z’s album cut “Already Home” on The Blueprint 3, also produced by Kanye. Not a bad way to start a music career.
2009: Kanye is featured on 'Man on the Moon: The End of Day'
In 2009, Kid Cudi released his debut studio album Man on the Moon: The End of Day. The album that launched Cudi's career into the mainstream repurposed his smash single “Day ‘N Night”, in addition to launching the equally-massive track “Pursuit of Happiness”. His G.O.O.D. Music-affiliated radio bop “Make Her Say” was just as strong, featuring Kanye, Common, and the popular sample of Lady Gaga’s "Poker Face". The single went certified platinum and peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Rap Songs chart in 2009.
In addition to "Make Her Say", Kanye also produced the record's track “Sky Might Fall”. In just two years, the duo had a built a respectable catalog of collaborations, pinpointing their effortless chemistry on both sides of the production booth.
2010-12: Nonstop collaborating
In one of the most exciting times for hip-hop this past decade, Kanye fueled hype for his impending album by creating a weekly music event called 'G.O.O.D. Fridays.' Serving as promotion for his magnum opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, he would drop new singles each week featuring a numerous amount of features, with Cudi appearing on "Good Friday", "Christian Dior Denim Flow" and "The Joy", the latter of which would become a bonus track on the JAY-Z and Kanye West collaborative album Watch the Throne. Some of these 'G.O.O.D. Friday' tracks evolved into the finished versions we hear today on Dark Fantasy, with Cudi making it onto album cuts "Gorgeous" and "All of the Lights".
During all of this, Cudi continued to hone in on his solo career. After the major success of his debut album, he quickly dropped part two of the Man on the Moon trilogy with The Legend of Mr. Rager. As his fame started to rise, so did his Qui-gon Jinn / Obi Wan Kenobi relationship with West. He was learning to take more risks and found the right formula of blending genres. The album’s first single “Erase Me”, featured his mentor and served as a rap/rock infused ballet. Ye would also make an appearance on the remix of “Wild’n Cuz I’m Young”.
After MOTM II, Cudi continued to diversify his sound with different genres. He dropped the rock album WZRD in 2012 with frequent collaborator Dot da Genius, and released Indicud the following year, the first studio album of Cudi's solo career not be an installment of his MOTM series.
Even in the midst of his experimental phase, Scott Mescudi would frequently collaborate with G.O.O.D. Music on a number of rap hits. In 2012, he made appearances on the label’s compilation album Cruel Summer, adding vocals to “The Morning” and a solo effort for “Creepers”. Sadly, this would become an end of an era.
2013: Kid Cudi leaves G.O.O.D. Music
On April 2, 2013, Cudi shocked the music world when he announced on Power 106 in Los Angeles that he was no longer apart of G.O.O.D. Music. "Man, everything is cool," Cudi said at the time. "Everything is peace with everybody on the label. There's never been any issues, but I am announcing that I'm no longer on G.O.O.D. Music. And this is something that no one knows, really. I'm no longer on G.O.O.D. Music." Cudi went on to clarify that it was a tough decision, because he viewed West as a "big brother," but Cudi wanted to go in his own direction musically.
And yet, despite departing from the label, somehow Cudi still made it on Kanye’s sixth studio album Yeezus, released later that year. Like every listener, he was just as surprised when he heard his own voice on the track "Guilt Trip". In an interview with Complex for their February 2014 cover story, Cudi revealed that he was unaware that he was apart of the track until after its release.
"The vocal that I did on that song was a couple years old. I forgot which session it was, but it was just a reference," Cudi said. "I discovered that I was on the song via Twitter. I saw kids hitting me up, like, 'Are you on ‘Guilt Trip!?’' or saying 'Great job!' and I’m like, 'What the fuck is everyone talking about?' So I go on Twitter and then I hear the song and I’m like, 'OK. I know the beat. I know the song.' Then I’m like, 'Oh man, OK.' Part of me was flattered, like, it’s kind of cool that he thought of me. Then I started thinking about it more. It was like, 'Why not call me and have me come in there and give it? Why underuse me? Why put four bars of vocals to coax my fans into thinking this is a legitimate Kid Cudi feature on this song and it isn’t?'"
In the years directly afterward, Cudi would continue to roll out a stream of full-lengths, none of which made much of an impact with the music world at large. While remaining busy, Kanye would not release another project until The Life of Pablo, which is where the duo would make a fateful reconciliation.
2016: Reunion, Drama, Re-Reunion
In 2016, the two would rekindle their musical (and personal) relationship on The Life of Pablo’s "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1". Cudi would even join Kanye during his Madison Square Garden album listening party/Yeezy fashion show. However, the bromance didn’t last long.
A few months later, Cudi strapped on his Twitter fingers and sent out a barrage of shots at rappers including Drake and big brother Ye. In a string of now deleted tweets captured by Billboard at the time, Cudi went off about discord in the hip-hop scene. Among those he name-dropped was West.
"I need y'all to know I got so many haters within the industry and these clowns know Im bout to crush their entire existence," Cudi wrote. "Everyone thinks they're soooo great. Talkin top 5 and be having 30 people write songs for them. Let me tell you something. The days of fuckery are over. The fake ones won't be lasting too much longer."
He continued, "I'm the one they worry about cause they know I don't give a fuck about the corny shit they do. All my youngins out here reppin, Asap Rocky and the whole ASAP family, Travis Scott, SuperDuper Kyle, Audio Push, Hit Boy, etc, I see y'all. And all u jealous chicken hearted shits I see you too. I am the culture."
And still more, "I kept silent because I don't ever wanna come off like some angry hater, but today, not only do I feel fantastic, I'm feelin like taking over. I already have. My tweets apply to who they apply. Ye, Drake, whoever. These n––s don't give a fuck about me. And they ain't fuckin' with me. N––s keep you close when they how powerful you are by yourself. When they see your greatness. Out of fear. I've been loyal to those who haven't been to me and that ends now. Now I'm your threat. Anybody got a issue with my words I'm glad. If you feel me, don't be scared to use your voice. I was for so long out of blind loyalty."
Of course, Kanye was not one to let comments like that slide. Later that very same day, he fired back while performing a show on his 'Saint Pablo' Tour. "We all dealing with that emo shit all the time. Don't ever mention 'Ye name,” Kanye screams. “Don't try to say who I can do songs with," he said. "You mad 'cause I'm doing songs with Drake. Ain't nobody telling 'Ye who to do songs with. Respect the God!"
But not long after, West addressed Cudi's tweets at another stop on the tour. This time, while on the suspended stage, West expressed forgiveness.
"The most important artist of the past 10 years, the most influential, and I hope he's doing well," West told the crowd between singing. "I just want to take this time out to say Kid Cudi is my brother... The most influential artist of the past 10 years."
Two months later, in November, and shortly after Cudi had gone to rehab for depression and suicidal urges, he joined West in Sacramento for a surprise performance of "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1", which would end in Kanye tearing up. A couple weeks later, West would go on to cancel the rest of the tour before being hospitalized for his own mental health issues, but Cudi would return the favor not long after, helping Kanye to reintroduce himself following a lengthy public absence. West joined Cudi to again perform "Father Stretch My Hands", but this time for Cudi's 'Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin' Tour.
2018: West announces joint album 'Kids See Ghost'
After a roller coaster ride of mental health issues, Twitter rants, and platinum singles, it seems our favorite music duo are finally back on good terms and healthy. Returning to Twitter to announce the upcoming release of his own 7-song album, West broke the social media platform by surprising fans with news of a joint album with Cudi.
Kids See Ghost is the rumored title of the group and project. We don’t have much other info besides it will arrive on June 8, but if Kim Kardashian's music reviewing skills have any credibility - it's going to be great. Stay tuned!
Can't wait til June? Take a look at everything we know so far about Kanye's upcoming album right here.