If you’re familiar with recent hip-hop history, you’ll know that Kanye West (now known as Ye) and Kid Cudi have shared an on-again, off-again friendship since Cudi first joined West’s record label, G.O.O.D. Music, in 2008.
Most recently, the relationship turned sour when West’s ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, began dating Pete Davidson, a friend of Cudi’s. West claimed great offense, but for some time, Mr. Rager remained fairly quiet on the matter. Now, in Esquire’s new cover story featuring Cudi, the artist opened up about his whirlwind history with West, even addressing him directly at one point. “It’s gonna take a motherfucking miracle for me and that man to be friends again,” Cudi said in the interview.
The two artists first met when Cudi was in the early stages of his career, just beginning to make a name for himself. Then, he signed with G.O.O.D. and jumped on West’s 2008 album, 808s & Heartbreaks—before releasing his own debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day in 2009. In the years since, some have framed Cudi’s career as having been launched by West. Cudi takes issue with that. “I just want to clear that up for anybody that feels like Kanye made my career or made me who I am,” he said to Esquire. “He brought me on to do 808s. I thought that was really fucking awesome. I wanted to be a part of a family and saw G.O.O.D. Music as that opportunity. So I finally said yeah. Kanye West did not come and pluck me out of Applebee’s or the Bape store.”
Cudi left G.O.O.D., amicably, in 2013. But rifts in their relationship first began to appear, at least publicly, that same year when Cudi called out West for using his vocals on Yeezus without his knowledge. Cudi found out about the feature from fans congratulating him online. A few years later, in 2016, Cudi posted a string of now-deleted tweets criticizing West, Drake, and others for allegedly keeping him close to them when they actually viewed him to be a threat. At the time, West expressed hurt about Cudi’s words, adding that he felt “disrespected”. Soon, the two reconciled and ended up performing at each other’s shows. In 2018, they even ended up creating a joint album, Kids See Ghosts.
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Hey! So I know some of you heard about the song I got w Pusha. I did this song a year ago when I was still cool w Kanye. I am not cool w that man. He’s not my friend and I only cleared the song for Pusha cuz thats my guy. This is the last song u will hear me on w Kanye -Scott
— The Chosen One (@KiDCuDi) April 19, 2022
Then came Davidson, the comedian whom West is not a fan of, if you haven’t heard. As a result of Cudi and Davidson’s friendship, West announced in February that he took Cudi off of his newest album, Donda 2. “Just so everyone knows Cudi will not be on Donda because he’s friends with you know who,” West wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post, tagging both Cudi and ex-wife Kardashian. In the Esquire interview, Cudi said, “Do you know how it feels to wake up one day, look at your social media, and you’re trending because somebody’s talking some shit about you? And then you got this person’s trolls sending you messages on Instagram and Twitter? He used his power to fuck with me. That pissed me off.” He added, “You fucking with my mental health now, bro.”
In April, Cudi explicitly stated that is no longer friends with West and will not work with him together professionally again, which he reiterated to Esquire. “With all due respect, I’m not Drake, who’s about to take a picture with him next week and be friends again, and their beef is squashed,” Cudi says. “That’s not me. What I say, I mean. I will be done with you.”
Cudi continued, “I’m at a place in my life where I have zero tolerance for the wrong energies. I’ve watched so many people throughout the years that are close to him be burned by him doing some fucked-up shit. And then they turn around and forgive him. And there’s no repercussions. You’re back cool with this man. He does it over and over.”
Later on in the story, Cudi addressed West and his feud with Davidson directly, ending the back and forth, hopefully, in one fell swoop. “I’m not one of your kids. I’m not Kim. It don’t matter if I’m friends with Pete or not friends with Pete. None of this shit had anything to do with me,” he said. “If you can’t be a grown man and deal with the fact that you lost your woman? That’s not my fucking problem. You need to own up to your shit like every man in this life has. I’ve lost women, too. And I’ve had to own up to it. I don’t need that in my life. I don’t need it.”
Ammal Hassan is a writer and Esquire’s Snapchat Editor. She covers all things culture with a focus on music and pop culture. She is from Nairobi, Kenya and lives in New York City.