Kid Cudi dropped the final album of his Man on the Moon trilogy at midnight and prior to the release, the “Day n Nite” rapper sat down with Beats 1 Radio host Zane Lowe for an interview to commemorate his first solo release since 2017.
During the hour-long sit-down, Cudi opened up about his widely publicized battles with depression. He also discussed working with hip-hop legends like Jay-Z and Kanye West, and revisited the first two Man on the Moon albums. According to Cudi, he feels like they had more of an impact now than when they were released in 2009 and 2010.
“Man on The Moon was dangerous for my health”
Kid Cudi has been open about dealing with depression and anxiety and as if not to leave any doubt, he put it all in the music. A few platinum plaques later, Cudi realizes that these albums were just venting sessions in many ways that revealed what he didn’t even know at the time.
“Every time I write I learn something new about myself,” Cudi told Lowe in the Beats 1 interview. “My first album I didn’t realize my father’s death had an impact the way it did until I wrote about it. I guess being alone is an issue for me. I guess being depressed is an issue. I didn’t know what it was. I’m just making music. Things that I didn’t’ pinpoint before therapy.”
Despite learning through his own music that he was depressed, Cudi also found “comfort” in the anxiety and isolation. “My best ideas came from anxiety. Time to sit and think with album packaging, tour sets. I always was plotting in isolation.”
“The music has been one big S.O.S.”
Lowe addresses a line from “Tequila Shots” where Cudi says ” I won’t stop ’till I crash and burn//tell my mom I’m sorry.”
“My mom would be really disappointed if she thought I allowed myself to go back to that place again,” Cudi tells Lowe. “I never wanna let my mom down but that’s where I’m at…that’s my reality, what I’m going through.”
Going back to that MOTM mentality means tapping into a dark space that Cudi was in when he often abused cocaine and was seemingly in a constant state of depression. Cudi tells Lowe that around the time of MOTM II he tried to quit using cocaine cold turkey, but ultimately relapsed.
“The music has been one big S.O.S. [The music] asks who out there connects and feels the same way.” He has come to terms with the fact that his anxiety and depression “will always be there” taking him to places that he may not have felt in years, but he’s fairly recently found balance in his life that won’t let him go back to that depressive “vortex” from 2009.
“No pressure studio sessions create beautiful shit”
Zane Lowe describes MOTM III as a “melodic nod to history” in its construction to which Cudi agrees is true. Prior to officially calling the album part three, Cudi created two songs: “Tequila Shots” and “She Knows This.” This was when he realized that it was time for the trilogy to conclude.
Lowe asks Cudi in the interview how he knew it was time for part 3. “Conversations with [Dot Da Genius] and [Dennis Cummings]. I was already in a good place working on Entergalactic, going crazy with The Scotts shit but then I was making something else that didn’t fit those two projects.
After peeping where things were headed, Cudi honed in on MOTM III and started pumping out album tracks in a short period of time. “I might have made 12 songs in two weeks. From there I took a step back to see what I got… Once I see what I got I’m like okay I’ve got the album.”
The final product is an 18-track album with only a few features from Skepta, Phoebe Bridgers, Trippie Redd, and a posthumous appearance from Pop Smoke on “Show Out.”
“I was chillin’ with [Dot Da Genius] and he played the [Pop Smoke] record and I’m like ‘I need this.'”
Just as Pop Smoke was taking off in his music career, he was killed during a home invasion this past February. Since his passing, Hip-Hop got behind the production of his posthumous debut album that landed at number 1 on the Billboard Charts. With there being a finite amount of Pop verses left, fans will treasure every bar they can get from the deceased Brooklyn rapper, which now includes “Show Out” on Cudi’s new release.
“… It was powerful because I talked to Steven Victor. When he first recorded he thought of me on it,” Cudi said referring to the already recorded Pop Smoke track. “Dot Da genius and Plain Pat had worked with Pop in The Brewery in NY. They had a record, just never did anything with it… Nobody has ever heard me on anything like this. Skepta sounds amazing; Pop sounds amazing; this would be unexpected. I could get on this and hold it down and do my thing. Also another way I can showcase these bars.”
“I felt like in hip-hop I’m slept on as a rapper.”
“Before I started working, my next shit got to be bars,” Cudi recalls thinking before he started working on what became MOTM III. During a studio session with Kid Cudi super fan, Travis Scott, Cudi says that the Astroworld creator told him he loves when he raps. “Travis is saying my raps are good. It must be something the kids like. I’ll keep that in mind,” Cudi said.
Cudi says he became a better rapper during sessions with Hip-Hop elites like Snoop Dogg who he said wrote a verse in 15 minutes that was a “chef’s kiss” although the record was never officially released. From that session on, Cudi worked on his speed with writing verses and instead of judging every bar he just “let it flow.”
Cudi was also able to link with Eminem after tweeting at the Rap God to do a track. The result was “The Adventures of Moon Man and Slim Shady,” a 2020 single with both artists trading verses. “Him doing the record told me he fucked with me and that even my bars are dope.”
“Kids See Ghost Was the First Time in the history of my career I was really excited about doing new shit…”
In 2013, Kid Cudi departed from Kanye West’s G.O.O.D Music imprint. But, despite no longer being contractually connected, Cudi and West maintained a big brother, little brother relationship. This eventually led to the 2018 7-track album Kids See Ghosts.
As soon as they linked, one of the first things Kanye said to him was that he wanted to make their joint venture “a spiritual album.” Cudi signed off immediately.
“That was music to my ears… we were both dealing with the same things at the same time and it made it such a solid thing,” Cudi tells Lowe. “We were entering new chapters in our lives and that energy ran through the whole project.”
At that time, Cudi moved away from pumping out music every year and decided to slow things down a bit while Kanye was becoming more in tune with his Christian faith. This is why Ye was excited when Cudi approached him with the eventual 5th song on the album, “Reborn.”
“I thought it was too soft for him, but he loved it. We were discovering a new thing. What I thought he might like was out the window. He was like ‘AWWW PLAY THAT BACK!'”
“[Man on The Moon III] was made with touring in Mind.”
Cudi hasn’t toured since 2017, but in a post-Covid-19 world, the “Frequency” performer plans to hit the road as soon as the arenas open back up. “I plan on hitting the ground running when we can get out there. It’s been a long time since I did a big tour.”
“The whole flow of my life is in tune with what I wanted it to be.”
As previously mentioned, from 2013 to 2016, the multi-Platinum selling artist dropped an album every year starting with the release of Indicud, followed by Satellite Flight: Journey to Mother Moon, Speedin’ Bullet to Heaven, Passion Pain and Demon Slayin’ respectively. “I think I had to kind of take a step back in my own career. Some psycho shit was going on in my head, I needed it.”
Cudi has now taken an “every other year” approach to album making which he says allowed more time for other things like acting, writing for television and spending time with his daughter.
“I’m solid with my baby mom, solid with my mom, solid with my sister, solid with my nieces, solid with my daughter. Everything is in place. I’m happy.”