The Artist’s Way: Kid Cudi, Musician and Actor

In this special feature, T photographed and interviewed 34 artists from various disciplines about 24 hours in their creative lives.

Article by Jon Caramanica

Kid CudiScott Mescudi, aka Kid Cudi, at the Shangri-La recording studio in Malibu, California. Photography by Kennedi Carter.

Over the years, I’ve found myself at this studio, creating with a few different artists, and it’s always a really peaceful place. When I’m here, it’s like I’m in heaven in some way. Inside, it’s white walls everywhere, and outside, it’s a beautiful grassy space that feels closed off from everything. You can hear the ocean in the background.

There are times when inspiration hits me and I want to sample something, or I have some other idea. I call my friend the producer Dot Da Genius and I’m like, “Yo, let’s do the studio right now, tonight.” It’s very spontaneous. And hopefully by the end of the night, we get something magical. I’m wearing this sweater today because, yes, there’s a possibility that I’d be that drippy for a studio session. I’ve worked in three-piece suits before. It’s like, “Hey, I’m showing up to the game. I want to make something special, so let me get dressed,” you know?

I haven’t had a block in years. Lately, I constantly have something to say. As you get older, you have new perspectives, you learn new things and there’s so much you want to tell the world. My whole thing is about guiding the kids, and that’s something I want to put in my music, as well. I’m 38 years old, not 28. What have I learned in the past 10 years? Where am I now psychologically? Is my mental health good? These are all things someone could find out just by listening to a Kid Cudi album. I like to be as transparent as possible. I want fans to like the music, but I also want that to be a way into relating to me and connecting to what I’m saying.

In 2016, I was in rehab. I was at the bottom. I didn’t see anything positive happening for me. I thought that maybe it was the end of my career. After so many years of feeling miserable, it’s hard to imagine anything brighter on the horizon. But the last five years have been truly game-changing for me. Ever since I left rehab, it’s been nothing but me climbing up the mountain, getting higher and higher and achieving more, doing more, seeing more, learning more.

Still, I never want kids to think there’s a quick fix, and that every time people see me now, I’m going to be happy and upbeat. I like to let kids know, “Right now, your favourite artist, who you think is the strongest man in the world, is having a bad day — and that’s OK. So if you have a bad day, that’s OK, too.” I know the kids think I’m superhuman. And I am superhuman in a lot of ways, like with my music. But at my core, I’m very sensitive. I’m fragile at times. And I’m always trying to write my pain.

This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our seventh edition, Page 76 of T Australia with the headline:“The Artist’s Way”