I anticipate pretension, but needing a short quote or two to prop up the Wale piece, I saunter over to Plain Pat with a request to quickly speak to CuDi. He obliges and the protege & I head over to a table at a quiet corner of the venue to conduct an impromptu interview. Speed-typing away on his phone as we begin, I initially sense disinterest. Revealing his mastery of multitasking, he keeps both convos going strong, unrestrained as he opens up. Just as I imagine how his mentor Kanye was back in the day, CuDi’s simply a cool, regular-ass nigga.
TSS: You’ve said that you had the vision for your album Man on the Moon: The Guardian for some time. What exactly is that vision?
KiD CuDi: Well, I always wanted to make an album that was cinematic in nature as far as how it feels. When you go to the movies, and you watch like a drama or something, you can just close your eyes and feel the music—feel the movie—just through the emotion in the orchestra and the score of the film. And I want to bring that same emotion and same power into my music. I want it to be like you’re listening to a movie but without watching it. I’m trying to bring that same intensity so I’ve always had the vision to do a very cinematic album in nature since day one because I feel like no one has ever done that before. People have attempted and there have been hints of film references in music but to really effectively execute it, that hasn’t been done yet and I really wanna execute it properly.
TSS: So in reference to that, what’s the story behind the title?
KiD CuDi: It’s my birth and growing up, realizing my destiny, my journey, and internal issues that I deal with. A lot of self-conflict on the album. It’s a storyline but not so much. I think if you give the listener too much of a guideline, it doesn’t leave room for imagination. I want to leave it somewhat vague but at the same time keep it on track with the mood of each song.
TSS: T.I. and Luda are superstars and they had their album release parties here [at the Highline Ballroom] in NY, not ATL. Does NY still have to be won over?
KiD CuDi: Well, I feel like you have to win over everybody. It’s not just this town or that town, you gotta win over everyone and that’s what it’s all about. And in order to win over those people, you gotta win them over on a natural level,the organic level, because—I tell people this all the time—the kids are smarter nowadays. They know when some bullshit is gettin’ fed to them and they know when it’s organic.
TSS: How would you characterize this new wave of emcees coming into the game?
KiD CuDi: We’re just a little more open-minded. Everything’s been done and we’re really trying hard to make names for ourselves in this industry and change the game. We just don’t wanna be artists in the game. They’re some rappers that are just in the game, taking up fucking space—Billboard chart numbers (Laughs). We don’t wanna be just another number in the game. We wanna be that motherfucker. Everybody wants to have an impact—the Jay-Z impact, the Kanye impact, the Nas impact. Even Ludacris had an impact. T.I. had an impact. You know these guys. You know their names, you know their faces, they’re vets in the game. Even Jeezy. You know these people—these are motherfuckers who stand out. We wanna be those niggas who stand out. Not even on the fact of just wanting to stand out, we all just really, really wanna change music in some way, shape, or form. You can ask any of us that was on the XXL cover and all of us will say, ‘Yes, we wanna change the music in some way, shape, or form.’ All of us have that goal.