Kid Cudi Talks Going 'Bar-For-Bar' With Eminem For Validation, Kanye West & 'Powerful' Pop Smoke Feature

Kid Cudi is getting ready to unleash his forthcoming album Man On The Moon III: The Chosen, his highly anticipated follow-up to 2010’s Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. 

But before that happens, the 36-year-old Ohio native had a chance to speak with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe to discuss a variety of topics, including his 2020 collaboration with Eminem, “The Adventures Of Moon Man & Shady.” During the conversation, Cudi admitted he purposely sought out Eminem in an effort to prove his skills as an MC.

“I wanted to be respected as an MC, yo!” Cudi said with a laugh. “Who do I fuckin’ get?! Who do I spar with, go bar-for-bar with? Eminem. I tweeted at him. In my timeline! I was like, ‘Yo Rap God, help.’ We’re really close to Paul Rosenberg, and he was able to connect us and we were able to get it done. He was in Detroit and I was in L.A. It was a nail-biter. They’re asking questions, they didn’t say he’s going to do it yet. Every day I was like, is today going to be the day. I got it, and I was like holy shit.”

Released in July, “The Adventures of Moon Man & Slim Shady” marked the first time Cudi and Eminem had ever worked together. The song debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking Cudi’s second chart-topping single of the year, right behind “THE SCOTTS” with Travis Scott. It was the Astroworld phenom who encouraged him to keep rapping.

“Early on, before I started working on this shit, I was like, ‘My next shit got to be bars,’” he told Lowe. “I knew that, because I just remember Travis saying something to me about my raps. He was just like, ‘Man, your raps, man. I love when you rap.’ And I was just like, ‘OK.’ I kept that in mind. I said, ‘OK, Travis is saying my raps are good. That must be something that the kids like. I’ll keep that in mind.’”

Cudi is looking to continue his lucrative year with Man On The Moon III, which he revealed also includes a feature from the late Pop Smoke.

“It was powerful because like I talked to Steven Victor [Pop’s manager] about this and he said, when he first recorded this song, he had thought of me on it,” he explained. “Steven had thought of me on it. The reason why I kind of got this record, Dot Da Genius and Plain Pat had worked with Pop, like before he blew up at the Brewery in New York, at Dot’s studio. And they had this record, they just never did anything with it. It was just something that Dot had on tuck, you know?

“And I was chilling with them one day because Dot’s working on our album and he was like, ‘Yo, I got this record. I’m going to play it for you. Let me know what you think.’ He plays this shit. And I’m like, ‘I need this. Like I need this, man.’ I was like, ‘Nobody’s ever heard me on anything like this. Skepta sounds amazing. Pop Smoke sounds amazing. Like this would be so unexpected. I think I can be on this and I could hold it down and like do my thing.’ And this is also another way I can, you know, showcase these bars.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Cudi talked about working with Kanye West and explained how Kids See Ghosts was really the beginning of a new chapter for him. Prior to the 2018 collaboration, Cudi had been struggling with his mental health and required hospitalization.

“I had to give into the pain a little bit, because I’ve been fighting it for so long and I had to give in to the pain because that was the only way I was going to heal,” he said. “I dropped Passion Pain, but I wrote that album from a hopeful place like these are the things that I want to feel one day, but I was still completely miserable when I made that record.

“So that’s why Kids See Ghost was so big because it was for the first time in almost forever in the history of my career, I was really excited about doing some new shit that was positive, and wasn’t a downer, and it was like uplifting.”

Cudi believed it was a fresh start for Kanye, too.

“The one thing that Kanye said he wanted to do was make a spiritual album,” he continued. “And I was like, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what I want to do.’ And he said this before we had ‘Reborn,’ when we started the project, it was just established. He was like, ‘I want to make a spiritual album.’ That was like music to my ears.

“I think the fact that we were both dealing with the same things at the same time is what made it such a solid thing. Because if one of us was on another page than the other, then it would have not come together how it came together. I think we were both feeling like we were entering new chapters in our lives. We just shed old skin and we’re starting new. That energy just ran through the whole project.”

Man On The Moon III is expected to arrive on Friday (December 11). In addition to Pop Smoke, the 18-track project also features 50 Cent, Trippie Redd and Skepta, among others.