Kid Cudi and Kanye West are two of the most influential artists of this generation—both moving off love for the music, integrity, and creative genius—trailblazers who are human at the end of the day. Although the two have helped one another in significant ways, that doesn’t equate to pure artistic liberation, and work that results in an illuminating body of work.
In April 2013, Kid Cudi split from G.O.O.D. Music, due to the “shift” in his “creative ventures and things that I wanted to do.” Cudi was never, officially, signed to G.O.O.D. Music and the work done under the G.O.O.D. umbrella took place because of a joint venture that Ye and Cudi formed, which still had its own contract binding.
As I sonically travel back to that point in time, Cudi unquestionably held correct views on his place in G.O.O.D. Music—furthering the point of his anomalous approach not merging well on the project’s direction—Cudi’s integrity prevailed through that period. It also supported the idea that the two weren’t ready for a collaborative body of work, just yet.
“‘Ye and I have speckles. Maybe we’ll both be in the same place at the same time and be like, “Let’s do this” and have 30 songs with each other,” he said in a 2016 interview with Billboard. “But for now, I’m just happy to lend a hook. The last thing I want to do is write a rap for someone else’s song. I’d much rather have a hook and fall back. And that’s what Kanye wants from me. I sing and Kanye ensures me that it’s dope.”
Since then, the two have suffered their own bouts with mental health, shifts in creative energy, and issues between fellow music collaborators. The two have even battled their own differences within their friendship, which worsened towards the end of 2016.
Cudi backed his series of tweets by saying ““my tweets apply to who they apply. “Ye, Drake, whoever. These n***as dont give a f**k about me. And they ain’t f**kin with me.” This led to Ye including Cudi in a rant during a tour stop in Tampa, Florida for the Saint Pablo tour. Days later, Kanye returned to the stage and sent out well wishes to Cudi, called him his brother, and said that Cudi is “the most influential artist of the past 10 years, and I hope he’s doing well.”
Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo album featured the luminous track of “Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1,” a fan favorite from the sporadic album. “I just want to feel liberated,” Kanye joyfully vocalizes on the chorus, shared by Pastor T.L. Barrett / Choir and Kid Cudi. The song became synonymous to Cudi’s aforementioned tweets but also foresaw the future, the now of 2018.
In August of 2017, reports of Kanye West and Kid Cudi working on a project in Japan surfaced. Only an engineer, Cudi and Ye worked together at the time. More prominent became the fact that the two had reunited, bringing joy to those who love both equally and love the creativity they bind as one.
Premiering the project in Los Angeles on Thursday night (6/7), family, friends, and media gathered with Ye and Cudi to hear the 7-track project, self-titled after the duo’s name of KIDS SEE GHOSTS.
The first three tracks of the album (Feel The Love, Fire, 4th Dimension) sonically delivered the tone that did not fail to disappoint. While the music was good, the messages I needed to hear are surrendered and broadcasted on the second half of the album, most notably.
Free (Ghost Town Pt. 2), Reborn, Kids See Ghosts, and Cudi’s Montage, finish out the second half of the album.
“Freee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)” continues along the theme that was left on part two, featured on the album ye–finishing out the album. Under production by Jeff Bhasker, Cudi, and West, liberation found its place in Cudi and Kanye’s artistic output again. “I don’t feel pain anymore. Guess what baby? I feel freeeee,” Kanye runs through on the chorus. Let the freedom begin, as Anthony Hamilton and Ty Dolla $ign smooth out the vocals, supplementing a track based on making it through the fire, dying, and then coming back to life.
It’s the perfect arrangement to go into “Reborn,” a cut that brings a nostalgic Cudi, through production by Dot Da Genius, Plain Pat and Evan Mast. Cudi is persistent in divulging his reincarnation, displaying resilient nature that medicates the hopeless. Ye takes steps into Cudi’s world, bringing in a more focused pen from Ye than that of which was felt on his ye album.
The second half feels like a Cudi album featuring Kanye and Kanye is induced into Cudi’s world, a world that Ye feels comfortable in, having also struggled with his own mental health.
Both artists sound renewed, for better or for worse, merging their emotions, artistic abilities, and liberty into one. Prior to their collaborative album, both artists dabbled in features. Kanye spoke about his opioid addiction in Travis Scott’s single, “Watch” and his bouts with mental health, the “sunken place” theory, and stagnation– on Pusha T’s track, “What Would Meek Do?” Cudi, advanced his outreach to helping others push forward through dark times on A$AP Rocky’s “A$AP Forever (remix).” Cudi checked himself into rehab in 2016 for depression and suicide urges. Since then, Cudi appears happier, healthier than ever before. Cudi takes responsibility for a generation of kids (now adults) who hung onto his words in order to prevent the hanging of themselves.
Their prior-but-recent work tie in the loose strings to bring us Kids See Ghosts. Experiencing turmoil before hand helped bring us incredible, inspired music. Kanye fed off his martyr nature, mental health and new-found freedom to deliver his offering on Kids See Ghosts. Cudi’s bouts with mental health, life turmoil and new-found freedom led him here.
You’ve heard it before, I’m sure: timing is everything. This body of work couldn’t be consummated until now. It’s as if life chastened Kanye and Cudi as a sacrifice to make art. However, they rise to a pinnacle, one that I would love to reach, internally.
The parade of liberation from accepting demons for what they are and patiently doing the internal work, in order to process their release, is rewarding. KIDS SEE GHOSTS is a reward to the fans and also for Cudi and Kanye. It’s a long road from 2006, from when the two first met in a Virgin Megastore, a road full of exciting and abominable moments. These moment are a part of life and what makes liberation feel THAT much better.