“I write this treatment and I put everything into it. There’s like five people in the room from Adult Swim and they’re kind of vibing with the treatment, and I’d never really pitched shit in my life, ever. So I’m thinking, ‘Gosh, this is going well,’” LaBeouf recalls. “In the middle of the meeting, he just takes the pages out of my hand. He goes, ‘This is bullshit!’ and he threw the fucking pages out in the meeting and then stormed out.”
Cudi remembers things happening differently. “Nah I didn’t do that. I grabbed the script out his hand because it was a script that I didn’t read that he wrote on his own,” he says. “it was really smooth how I did it, because he took it out and then right when he pulled it out I was like, ‘No, no, no, no.’ And he was pissed.”
In a 2020 Esquire interview, Cudi called Shia his “favorite actor” and “best friend,” and LaBeouf directed him in the 2011 short film Maniac.
Schoolboy Q and Lil Yachty are huge Cudiheads.
There is no shortage of Cudi acolytes–everyone from Travis Scott to Logic has sung his praises–but two of the more animated interviews in the doc come from Schoolboy Q and Lil Yachty.
Both have working relationships with Cudi–Yachty helped get him on “Moon” off West’s DONDA, while Q and Cudi worked together on 2019’s “Dangerous.” Though Q hails from very different circumstances than Cudi, his early music from projects like 2012’s Habits & Contradictions is notable for blending emotional candor with stories of Los Angeles gang culture. He says in the documentary that Cudi’s music really resonated deeply with him.
“Songs like ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ and shit, that’s basically saying ‘Ayy n***a, you’re depressed. You can’t hide it. You’re trying to act like you don’t wanna hear this song, you’re constantly listening to it but trying to act like you’re not listening to it,’” Q explains.
Yachty says that Cudi inspired him to take risks both personally and artistically, and even admits that he wants to be able to put out ambitious projects without feeling the need to spell out his intentions, the way Cudi has in the past.
“When I do shit, I be so fearful of people not understanding something that I explain everything. He’s kind of the opposite. He just drops it, which is so cool. I wish I could be like that.”
Cudi says he’s done making “dark records.”
The film’s final moments are soundtracked by the extremely on-the-nose, but no doubt emotionally affecting “Reborn” off 2018’s Kids See Ghosts. The collaborative album with Kanye was Cudi’s first release after his time in rehab, and has a more hopeful tone than much of his earlier music. Still, Cudi says he was struggling to figure out where he wanted to go artistically, and that making that album was a huge boon for him.
“Kanye doesn’t know, but he saved me. He saved me from being depressed
all over again about where I was at with the music,” Cudi says. “He helped me see that, no no, I’m not done yet.”Kids See Ghosts went on to be a critical and commercial success, and seemed to really reignite a passion within Cudi.
Because of when it was made, the documentary doesn’t delve into Man On the Moon III: The Chosen, Cudi’s 2020 studio record. That one has plenty of songs that fit in Cudi’s somber, introspective oeuvre like “Another Day” and “Mr. Solo Dolo III,” but also sees him lighten up a bit on the drill record “Show Out” and the self-affirming “Lovin’ Me.” He explains at the film’s conclusion that he’s trying to steer clear of making music that’s as bleak as some of his earliest work. “I just have no desire to make any more dark records. I don’t want to put more of that out into the world,” he says. “I hope people got it when I put it out, when I did it, but that chapter is done.”