Kanye West has had a plethora of young protégés throughout the years that have gone on to become some of the most influential artists in hip-hop and music at large. Travis Scott is the most recent breakout superstar, but artists like Big Sean and CyHi The Prynce also have Kanye to thank as a factor in their success. But none of Yeezy's understudies have been more intertwined in his career than Kid Cudi.
After meeting for the first time in 2004 at a Virgin Megastore in New York City, Cudi officially signing to 'Ye's G.O.O.D Music imprint in 2008. They've since worked together regularly over the past decade, featuring on each others albums. In many ways, Kanye and Cudi shaped their own mini genre of rap crooning that spawned an entirely new generation of artists that thrive in today's melody-based space.
Their official collaborations started on Jay-Z's 2009 Blueprint 3 deep cut "Already Home," which features Cudi on the hook over a Kanye production. They went on to craft several hit singles and fan-favorite deep cuts. Despite Cudi amicably leaving G.O.O.D. Music in 2013 prior to a short-lived public feud three years later, the pair has a long list of collaborations that have proven to be some of the most replay-worthy music of their careers, all culminating in this year's collaborative album, Kids See Ghosts.
XXL groomed through the Midwest duo's collaborative catalog and ranked all 21 of their fire tracks. Take a look at the list below.
"No Mistakes"Kanye West Featuring Kid Cudi & Charlie Wilson
Kanye's Ye was filled top to bottom with featured guests—some credited and some not—all of whom played a role in shaping the short seven-song album. Cudi lent his vocal stylings to a few tracks including "No Mistakes," on which he harmonized with Charlie Wilson on the song's chorus. The execution is simple and the collaboration, as low-key as it might be, makes for a great record.
"Whatever U Want (Remix)"Consequence Featuring Kid Cudi, Kanye West, Common and Big Sean
Kanye rallied the G.O.O.D Music troops for a remix of Consequence's "Whatever U Want." The song is a fairly standard crew cut with most G.O.O.D artists stepping up to the beat and dropping a solid 16-bar verse.
"Kids See Ghosts"Kanye West and Kid Cudi Featuring Yasiin Bey
The title track of Kanye and Cudi's collaboration album is by far the most haunting of its seven songs. The eerie production highlights Cudi's lo-fi rap skills and his ability to carry a chorus while Kanye gets off one of the album's best verses.
"The Morning"Kanye West Featuring Kid Cudi, Raekwon, D'Banj, CyHi The Prynce, 2 Chainz, Common and Pusha-T
Cruel Summer had a lot of moving parts but managed to produce some seriously strong posse cuts. Cudi catches a heavenly harmony during the song's bridge, on which Kanye drops ad-libs and follows up with a short verse declaring his label's God-level performance: "G.O.O.D. woulda been G.O.D. except I added more O's."
"G.O.O.D. Friday"Kanye West Featuring Common, Kid Cudi, Pusha-T, Big Sean and Charlie Wilson
One of Kanye's most impressive spats of creative output was in the lead up to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. HIs weekly G.O.O.D Fridays birthed some of his most iconic records. "G.O.O.D. Friday" is another stout posse cut that has Cudi whaling out beautiful "ahhhs" and "laaaas" and buttery smooth verse from 'Ye.
"Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2)Kanye West and Kid Cudi Featuring Ty Dolla $ign
A week after the first "Ghost Town" dropped jaws, Kanye and Cudi followed it up with a sequel on their Kids See Ghosts album. The track is more unorthodox than it's predecessor, with gravelly guitar-driven instrumentation enabling both 'Ye and Cudi to jump around the track chanting out how they feel "freeeeeee."
"Welcome to the World"T.I. Featuring Kanye West and Kid Cudi
On T.I.'s No Mercy album, he used Kanye and Cudi in their purest forms for album intro "Welcome to the World." Cudi hums out a droning chorus and Kanye delivers one of the best angry 'Ye verses, filled with plenty of forceful cursing and hard truths.
"Ghost Town"Kanye West Featuring PartyNextDoor, Kid Cudi and 070 Shake
Kanye West's music by committee formula was out in full force on his most recent Ye album, especially on fan favorite "Ghost Town." Cudi handles the powerful two-bar chorus that Kanye then turns into a ballad-esque verse, creating the album's most heart-wrenching cut.
"Cudi Montage"Kanye West and Kid Cudi
This closing cut on Kids See Ghosts features more of Cudi's musical prowess. He hums and sings beautifully over a menacing guitar-driven beat before Kanye comes with a hard hitting verse of his own.
"Christian Dior Denim Flow"Kanye West Featuring Kid Cudi, Pusha-T, John Legend, Lloyd Banks and Ryan Leslie
This track is perhaps the best G.O.O.D Friday offering thanks to John Legend and Kid Cudi's harmonized chorus about calling ex-girls. Kanye sets it off with a wonky Auto-Tune verse but Cudi really brings it home with one his best rap verses ever.
"Fire"Kanye West and Kid Cudi
Kids See Ghosts has many more beautiful instances of emotional vulnerability than bravado but "Fire" blends the two perfectly. Kanye proudly raps, "I done proved to myself, back on that rulin’ myself" while Cudi mirrors the same sentiment with an equally assured chorus: "On this road I find/These scars I left behind/Heaven lift me up."
"4th Dimension"Kanye West and Kid Cudi Featuring Louis Prima
"4th Dimension" is the designated rap-focused track on Kids See Ghosts with standout verses from Kanye and Cudi. Kanye comes across equally braggadocios and clever. Cudi executes with less explicitness but even more effortlessness.
"Feel the Love"Kanye West and Kid Cudi Featuring Pusha-T
The opening track to Kids See Ghosts starts off with a verse form Pusha-T but very much encompasses the essence of a Kanye and Cudi collab. Cudi sings the chorus while Kanye simply blurts in gunshot ad-libs along the rhythm of the drumline beat. It's an explosive opening to a rollercoaster of an album.
"Erase Me"Kid Cudi Featuring Kanye West
"Erase Me" is one the biggest collab tracks from Kanye and Cudi from either of their catalogs. The duo are in near-flawless form while they intertwine their respective strengths: Kanye rapping and Cudi building out the rest of the track with verses, hums, croons and classic songwriting.
"Guilt Trip"Kanye West Featuring Kid Cudi
This track officially credits Cudi for his vocals even though Kanye added them without Cudi's knowledge. Those vocals, which are used ass a pseudo outro verse, happen to be some of his most candid and emotional to date. Kanye allows himself to also get vulnerable and audibly emotional, making this Yeezus deep cut one of their best.
"All of the Lights"Kanye West Featuring Rihanna, Fergie, Elton John, Alicia Keys and Kid Cudi
One of the biggest songs in Kanye's career canon is "All of the Lights," with a primary feature from Rihanna. That said, Cudi catches the perfect vibe on an integral bridge towards the end of the song, solidifying the song's undeniable dopeness.
"Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1"Kanye West Featuring Kid Cudi
Some claim Kanye's verse on "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" is lackluster (and a bit absurd) but his staunchly raw delivery contrasts immaculately with Kid Cudi's cradling chorus. More than their individual performances on this track though, Kanye's musical arrangement makes this song much stronger than the sum of its parts.
"Make Her Say"Kid Cudi Featuring Kanye West and Common
First off, the Lady Gaga sample on "Make Her Say" is a beautifully seamless chop thanks to Kanye West. It blends all the best parts of a Cudi and Kanye collab. Cudi pulls off his iconic rap/sung verse while Kanye gets right to the bars, which are filled with fellatio references.
"Gorgeous"Kanye West Featuring Kid Cudi and Raekwon
On "Gorgeous," Kid Cudi's vocals blend blissfully with a warped guitar, making almost one singular harmonious sound. It's the perfect pairing with Kanye's rhymes, which are a spot-on analysis of America's socio-economic climate in 2010.
"Welcome to Heartbreak"Kanye West Featuring Kid Cudi
Kanye has openly given credit to Cudi for helping to shape the sonic and aesthetic direction of 808s & Heartbreak. A lot of the somber, heart-wrenching themes on the album are based around their credited collab "Welcome To Heartbreak." Cascading pianos and rattling Auto-Tune let Cudi and Kanye mingle their emotional vocals into the perfect sadboy anthem.
"Reborn"Kanye West and Kid Cudi
Both Kanye and Cudi have privately and publicly been through mental health issues throughout their careers. "Reborn" is the light at the end of the dark tunnel. The resolution in Cudi's voice as he sings, "I'm so I'm so reborn/ I'm moving forward/Keep moving forward" is inspiring. Plus, one of Kanye's most honest verses anchors the entire song's triumphant vibe.