Joe Pugliese/Billboard Kid Cudi

Kid Cudi Talks Overcoming Depression, Finding Happiness, & Reuniting with Kanye West

The Kid is alright. While he’s shied away from the media in recent years, Kid Cudi reveals that he’s the “best I’ve ever been in my life.”

The Cleveland rapper graces the latest cover of Billboard in an in-depth interview, where he discusses his battle with anxiety, depression, and “suicidal urges,” which he detailed in an open letter on Facebook in 2016.

“I was in a really bad place, and at the time, I felt like I was letting a lot of people down,” he says. “It was really hard for me to even write that letter, but I needed to be honest with the kids. I needed to. I couldn’t live a lie. I couldn’t pretend to be happy.”

But at the age of 34, he’s happier than he’s ever been. “I’m the best I’ve ever been in my life,” he reveals. “I realized I was genuinely happy, and there’s nothing really going on in particular. Just being 34, to be still doing what I love. Taking care of my responsibilities, and my daughter’s good and my family’s good. Creating is making me happy again.”

After a turbulent past, he reconnected with his mentor and friend Kanye West and recorded Kids See Ghosts, which took a year-and-a-half to create. The seven-track album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. And there’s more where that came from. “There are some songs that we didn’t use that I’m hopeful we can put out later,” he says. “But the plan is to do more Kids See Ghosts albums.”

In addition to music, Cudi is working on a TV show with Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and a clothing collaboration with French brand APC. “I definitely know myself better than I ever have,” he explains. “I’ve arrived at this point of feeling 34. When I was 30, I didn’t feel 30. I still felt younger than my age. I felt like I was going to get some type of wisdom, something was going to hit me when I turned 30. It didn’t happen. It came a little later for me, but it’s here, and it feels great.”

Kid Cudi Covers Billboard

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Kid Cudi Covers Billboard

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Kid Cudi on what he’s doing to keep his energy right: “I’m just creating a lot, with more love in my heart for what I’m doing and for myself. Living a healthy life, keeping my family around and staying on a mission, which is making music that means something. I’m focusing on my art again and throwing myself back into it and wanting to write something with more of a positive outlook on things, because I’ve written the dark so well for so long.”

Kid Cudi on his connection with Kanye: “I think me and Kanye are always going to make awesome shit together. We just have this chemistry that’s undeniable, especially when we have to fight for it with each other. It’s really easy for us. Kids See Ghosts did take us a little over a year-and-a-half to just get it tight and where we wanted it to be, but the actual songwriting process and putting the songs together wasn’t really hard. … At first, when he mentioned he wanted to do the album, I didn’t know how serious he was. But I was real serious about it. Months went by, and we just kept working on it and chiseling away at it.”

Kid Cudi on clearing the Kurt Cobain sample on ‘Cudi Montage’: “That [sample of Kurt Cobain’s posthumously released song ‘Burn the Rain’] is the one I was the most worried about, but Courtney Love and Frances [Bean Cobain] were really cool and they cleared it, and I love them both for that. Courtney told me, ‘I don’t clear shit for just anybody,’ and I was like, ‘I know, I know,’ and I was so thankful. Those songs took some real time and real work.”

Kid Cudi on his darker moments: “I’ll have to explain my darker moments again to my daughter one day. She’ll want to know, and I’ll have to explain, but she’ll understand. She ain’t going to judge me or nothing. It’d be different if she was living some crazy, messed-up life and shit, but like, no. She’s straight. She’s a happy little girl, and I’ll want her to know all of who I am.”

Kid Cudi on recording Kids See Ghosts in Wyoming: “It was like camp, like a super camp where all the fucking creatives go to create. We ate together. We laughed together. Chilled. It was really cool to be around Nas. That was the illest. We’d be chilling in the room, and then Nas would leave and we’d be like, ‘That’s fucking Nas.’ We’d be asking him questions about coming up in Queens, did he know Biggie, all these questions. I had a ball out there, man. Kanye had his family around. He had his dad there. And we knew what songs we wanted to use.”

Kid Cudi on his 2016 Facebook posts detailing his ‘suicidal urges’: “I put it up, and I walked away. A couple of hours later, I saw that it was all over the news. Then I got really scared. I didn’t read any articles about it at first. I didn’t know how people were responding. I was asking Dennis [Cummings, his current manager] what the response was, and then I checked it [myself] a couple of days later and saw that the response was all love and support, and it really touched me. I was in a really bad place, and at the time, I felt like I was letting a lot of people down. It was really hard for me to even write that letter, but I needed to be honest with the kids. I needed to. I couldn’t live a lie. I couldn’t pretend to be happy.”

On his influence: “I didn’t know how many people would catch on, but I knew the right people would. The thinkers. It’s 2018, [and] we’re talking about music I made 10 years ago. That’s wild. I’ve influenced people, and it makes me feel good about the stuff that I’ve done. … I’ve never really thought about my legacy too much. But things are going to get a lot more trippy, and I’m into that. I like where we’re headed.”