In support of his Satellite Flight album release, Kid Cudi sat down with Complex for a lengthy interview. Among other topics, Cudder spoke about his sobriety, thoughts on Kanye West, and running into Justin Bieber at the studio.
On giving up alcohol for the recording of his Satellite Flight album:
Shortly before tour my doctor discovered that my liver was slightly enlarged from excessive drinking. It was another one of those wake-up calls. It was actually at the perfect time because I was getting ready to go on tour and I was telling myself, “Man, I don’t know if I can go another tour drinking after shows and partying on my off days and then having to do my shows and execute this shit to perfection. Something’s got to give.”
But as artists we want to have fun on tour so it doesn’t feel like work. So that’s why you have those moments when you have unwinding time. You have a drink or two but for me, I do things in excess. Even when you go back and think about my coke addiction—it wasn’t a little bit of coke. It was a lot of coke. There was no in-between. Same thing with booze. But at the same time, I was a functional alcoholic. You get caught up with the fact, like, “Aw man, I can do my work during the day and drink at night. That’s not an alcoholic. An alcoholic thinks about it all the time and wakes up drinking.”
On being on Kanye’s “Guilt Trip,” and finding out about it on Twitter:
You did appear on Yeezus on the song “Guilt Trip.” A lot of fans were excited to see you featured—although it was just the outro. What’s the story behind that collaboration?
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. 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? Same deal with the G.O.O.D. Music album, the compilation. Had I not given Kanye “Creepers” my only presence would’ve been on that one song, that I can’t even remember the title for. [“The Morning” —Ed.] I would’ve barely been on that album.
It was basically just a background vocal …
It’s weird. I don’t know how to feel but I would’ve much rather been off that song. I don’t care to be on people’s songs like that. Unless it came from a legitimate session where we’re all vibing and have an idea.
On him and Bieber working together after a photo of them surfaced in the studio:
That’s a big misunderstanding. OK, here’s the deal. [Laughs.] I was in the studio one late night, working on the mix and unfortunately I was trying to get the normal studio I go to but they were booked up. The only studio available was this one studio that’s like a fucking playground for every Top 40 artist in the world. And I hate going there because when you go there you just run into everybody and people just wanna walk in your session. So I’ve been dodging this place for years but this one night I had no choice.
I had to go there because I had to work on this mix and add some vocals. Because I think at this point I was coming with more songs and I just had the idea for “Internal Bleeding.” So I’m in the studio, it’s late—it’s like maybe one in the morning. I’m sitting there and my head’s down and I’m kinda like vibing to the music and I feel somebody touch my shoulder. I look up and it’s Justin. In there, in the studio, just there. I said what’s up. It was actually the first time that we’ve had a real encounter. I mean I’ve seen him here and there, I’ve seen him around Jaden [Smith] but he’s never been in my space.
He found out I was in there and wanted to say what’s up. So it was all cool. I let him sit there. We were hanging out and he wanted to hear a new song, wanted to hear some new shit. I played him Satellite Flight. He was into it. Then he played me a couple of his jams and that was it. [Laughs.] There’s no song. He asked to take a photo before he left. A picture for Instagram, and I was like, “Sure.” But it was definitely like he just kinda popped up, wanted to hear some jams, talked to him for a little bit and that was it. Sorry guys, there’s no Justin Bieber song and I don’t think there ever will be. No offense to his art or anything like that, but I like to only work with artists around my age. That makes more sense to me. I’m 30. I’m not a little older than him; I’m a lot older than him. That’s why if it was to work, it would be on the production side but I think he’s all squared away.