In a new profile in Esquire, former GOOD Music artist Kid Cudi says it would take nothing short of a miracle to repair his fractured relationship with his erstwhile mentor Kanye West. Once upon a timeline, the two seemed inseparable; as recently as 2018, they had collaborated together on a joint album titled Kids See Ghosts and were even said to be working on an animated project based on the album. But apparently, Cudi has had his fill of Kanye’s antics in the intervening years and said “enough is enough.”
Sadly, he’s not the only artist formerly signed to West’s label whose relationship with the mercurial producer has soured since leaving the label. In fact, Kanye seems to have made it a point to alienate practically everyone who ever shared the stage with him prior to his first public show of support for Donald Trump in 2016. It makes a certain kind of sense; of course, those artists who teamed up with him after that wouldn’t have minded, but many of those who worked with him early on must feel a sense of betrayal.
Kanye certainly does. In interviews he’s given throughout the year, he’s identified his support of Trump — and his own disastrous presidential bid — as the major breaking point in nearly all of his relationships. He’s apparently felt hurt by what he perceived as a lack of support during that tumultuous time. Whether they were truly disloyal or he caused the schisms himself with his erratic behavior is debatable. But either way, it’s clear that things have gone bad at GOOD Music. Here’s where Kanye stands with his former artists.
During Kanye’s appearance on the Drink Champs podcast in November, he proclaimed that the worst thing he ever did was sign Big Sean. Sean himself said that he was baffled by Kanye’s comment, pointing out that he “was just wit this man, he ain’t say none of that!” After revealing that Kanye still owes him royalties from his time on the label — he completed his contract with Detroit 2 in 2020 — Sean went on Drink Champs himself a month later, calling Kanye’s assertion “some bitch-ass sh*t.” He also shot down Ye’s complaint that he was unsupportive of his presidential campaign, saying that he isn’t interested in politics one way or the other (which is something of a political position in itself). However, they were seen together at a studio in Los Angeles, leaving the ultimate fate of their relationship a big question mark.
It could be argued that Kanye’s intervention revitalized Common’s musical career in the late 2000s after Com misstepped with the experimental (and misunderstood) Electric Circus. Com’s Kanye-produced follow-up, Be, is widely considered one of the Chicago rapper’s best and earned him enough goodwill to renew interest in his music. Fittingly, Com’s been reluctant to talk about the status of his relationship with the younger rapper, maintaining that he still feels a kinship with him and that he wishes they’d made just one more album together.
Of the former GOOD Music artists who released more than one record on the label, Desiigner’s the one whose friction with Kanye stems most from his treatment while signed there. In 2019, he admitted that he felt ignored by GOOD Music’s leadership, asking for the label to release him on Twitter after saying “I’ve been doing this sh*t myself” on Instagram earlier that year. In 2021, Desiigner released “Letter To Ye,” a nostalgic reflection on his time with the label in which he relishes the highs but also deplores the way Kanye treated him.
Along with Kid Cudi, John Legend is one of the handful of artists who makes no bones about his standing with Kanye. Earlier this year, he told CNN’s David Axelrod, “We aren’t friends as much as we used to be.” He attributes the change in their relationship to his refusal to support Kanye’s 2020 presidential campaign, something Ye himself alluded to on Drink Champs. As Legend puts it, “I honestly think because we publicly disagreed on his running for office, his supporting Trump. I think it became too much for us to sustain our friendship, honestly.”
The fracture between Cudi and Kanye seems to stem as much from Cudi’s continued friendship with Pete Davidson as anything else. Considering how Kanye felt about those who distanced themselves from his support of Donald Trump, it makes sense he’d want his friends to side with him in his one-man war against his ex’s new (now ex-) boo. However, Cudi and Davidson had formed a bond stemming from their shared affinity for comedy and mutual struggles with mental health — something you’d think Kanye would relate to. Unfortunately, as he’s told us repeatedly in the past, he’s insecure and immature, cutting Cudi off and even cruelly mocking his old friend for being pelted with objects during his Rolling Loud set.
It’s difficult to get a read on just where Teyana Taylor stands with Kanye these days, but when you consider her declaring her retirement from music over label frustrations in 2020, you have to imagine that at least some of that stems from Kanye. When collaborator Mykki Blanco said that they weren’t paid for their contributions to Taylor’s 2018 album KTSE, Teyana deferred the complaints to Kanye, GOOD, and Def Jam. While it is generally the label’s job to handle those sorts of disputes, it’s telling that she included Kanye in her response. After feeling underappreciated at GOOD Music, there’s no wonder that some of that disappointment would be pointed at Kanye, but Teyana has remained mum as to whether the two remain on speaking terms.