Kanye West and Kid Cudi’s ‘Kids See Ghosts': A Timeline of Their Tumultuous History
Kids See Ghosts, due out June 8, marks the first official joint album between Kid Cudi and Kanye West, but it's far from the first time they've collaborated. The Midwestern-bred rappers have been working together on and off for over a decade, when Kanye recruited Cudi for his widely influential fourth album, 808s & Heartbreak, and have linked up for songs including Man on the Moon II's "Erase Me," My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's "Gorgeous" and "All of the Lights," and more recently, The Life of Pablo's "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1," which Cudi co-wrote.
But their relationship — professional and otherwise — has been a turbulent one, beginning strong in 2008, lapsing into a quite public feud in 2016, and gaining steadier footing in recent years, with each facing personal turmoil along the way. Kids See Ghosts will be the first true testament to the strength of their partnership in quite some time, and given the largely derisive response — at least critically — to Kanye's freshly released Ye, the odds seem stacked against them.
Ahead of the project, take a look back at their long, tumultuous history.
Cudi, not yet famous, runts into a fresh-off-of-Late Registration Kanye at Virgin Megastore, introduces himself, and tells him they'll be "working together soon."
“I was looking at CDs, saw the gleam of a Jesus piece in the right side of my eye, looked up, and it was Kanye West,” Cudi recalled of the encounter in a 2009 Spin interview, adding that he offered Kanye some of his music, but that the rapper politely declined.
Cudi releases his breakthrough single, "Day 'n' Nite," catching the attention of Kanye. He's invited to work on the seminal 808s & Heartbreak, co-writing standout tracks including "Heartless" and "Welcome to Heartbreak."
Cudi is one of the dozens of artists recruited to work on Kanye's 2010 opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, during his self-imposed exile to Oahu, Hawaii. He provides backing vocals on “All of the Lights” and co-writes and features on "Gorgeous."
Just before the record's release, Cudi puts out his sophomore album, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, also on G.O.O.D. Music. Kanye is featured on lead single "Erase Me," which he co-wrote with Cudi, James Scheffer (Usher, Eminem), and Frank Romano.
Just a few days before the release of his third LP, Indicud, Cudi reveals on Power 106 Los Angeles that he's no longer a part of G.O.O.D. When the album comes out a week later, Kanye's previously announced contributions — as well as those of Pusha-T and Common — are cut.
"Man, everything is cool. Everything is peace with everybody on the label. There's never been any issues," Cudi explained at the time, saying it was tough because he viewed Kanye as a "big brother."
“[Kanye and I] were talking on the phone the other day and these are things I’ve been wanting to talk to him about, me starting my own direction," he continued. "He got it because he’s trying to start his new path and try new things as an artist and he was just like, ‘Man, I feel you as an artist. It’s cool, whatever.'"
When asked about his barely-there vocal on Yeezus track "Guilt Trip," Cudi tells Complex he was surprised to hear himself on the record.
"The vocal that I did on that song was a couple years old. I forgot which session it was, but it was just a reference," Cudi explained. "I discovered that I was on the song via Twitter ... I’m like, 'What the f--k is everyone talking about?"
He continued: "Part of me was flattered, like, it’s kind of cool that he thought of me.Then I started thinking about it more. It was like, 'Why not call me and have me come in there and give it? Why underuse me? Why put four bars of vocals to coax my fans into thinking this is a legitimate Kid Cudi feature on this song and it isn’t?'"
Cudi shares his fifth studio album, Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven, produced by him, Plain Pat, and his manager, Dennis Cummings. It's derided by critics for poor production, songwriting, and a lack of cohesion. Cudi defends it; Kanye praises it.
Kanye rolls out his chaotically constructed seventh LP, The Life of Pablo, featuring a co-writing credit from Cudi on "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1."
Amid a maelstrom of since-deleted tweets, Cudi calls out a number of rappers — Kanye included — for being "fake" and "corny."
"My tweets apply to who they apply. Ye, Drake, whoever. These n––s don't give a f--k about me. And they ain't f--kin' with me. N––s keep you close when they how powerful you are by yourself. When they see your greatness. Out of fear," he wrote. "I've been loyal to those who haven't been to me and that ends now. Now I'm your threat. Anybody got a issue with my words I'm glad. If you feel me, don't be scared to use your voice. I was for so long out of blind loyalty."
While at a Tampa Bay concert in support of 2016's The Life of Pablo, Kanye fires back at Cudi onstage.
"Do you know how many people wish they could be signed to G.O.O.D. Music?" West told the crowd. "Get their life changed, have an opportunity? Never forget that! I am so hurt. I feel so disrespected. Kid Cudi, we are two black men in a racist world. ... Don't ever mention my name in a bad manner, none of y'all."
A few days later, this time at a show in Houston, Kanye walks back his comments.
"[He's] the most important artist of the past 10 years, the most influential, and I hope he's doing well," he said between singing. “I just want to take this time and say Kid Cudi is my brother and I hope he’s doing well tonight.”
In a lengthy Facebook note, Cudi reveals he's entering rehab for depression and suicidal thoughts, writing, “I guess I give so much of myself to others I forgot that I need to show myself some love too. I think I never really knew how. Im scared, im sad, I feel like I let a lot of people down and again, Im sorry. Its time I fix me.”
When he leave rehab the following month, he thanks Kanye, among others, for his love and support. "I wanted to let yall know it meant the world to me. I have nothing but love for you. Words can't really express how much it made my heart glow," he said.
The same month, Cudi and Kanye perform "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" during the Sacramento, California stop of his St. Pablo tour. It was one of only three songs Kanye played before leaving the concert abruptly. West then canceled the rest of the tour after being hospitalized for his own mental health issues.
After a mostly quiet year for both artists, Cudi brings Kanye out for another rendition of "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1," this time during a stop for his Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin' Tour at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. Just as Kanye gave Cudi a stage to return to after facing his own personal trauma, Cudi returned the favor, welcoming Kanye back for his first live stint following a lengthy public absence.
Amid his antic-packed return to Twitter, Kanye announces he and Cudi will release a collaborative project entitled Kids See Ghosts in June. At the start of the month, they share the album artwork and tracklist.