Kids See Ghosts (album)

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Kids See Ghosts
Kids See Ghost Cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 8, 2018 (2018-06-08)
StudioKanye West's ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Kanye West chronology
Kids See Ghosts
Kid Cudi chronology
Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin'
Kids See Ghosts

Kids See Ghosts is the eponymous debut studio album by American hip hop duo Kids See Ghosts, composed of Kanye West and Kid Cudi. The album by the duo was released on June 8, 2018, by GOOD Music and Def Jam Recordings.[2][3] Prior to the album, West and Cudi enjoyed a strong relationship as close friends and musical allies since meeting in 2008, and expressed a desire to record a collaborative album. However, the album never materialized and the duo instead experienced brief fallings-out in 2013 and 2016. They reunited a year later, when the album's first studio sessions began.

The album features guest contributions from Pusha T, Yasiin Bey and Ty Dolla Sign, as well as a vocal sample of Louis Prima, who is credited posthumously as a featured artist. It features prominent production from both members of the duo, with further contributions by Dot da Genius, Mike Dean, Evan Mast, Plain Pat, BoogzDaBeast, Benny Blanco, Jeff Bhasker, Justin Vernon, Noah Goldstein, Andrew Dawson, Cashmere Cat and André 3000, among others. The cover art was designed by Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, who previously created the album artwork for West's third studio album Graduation (2007).

Kids See Ghosts was the third of five albums produced by West in Jackson Hole as a part of the "Wyoming Sessions",[4][5] each being released weekly in the summer of 2018. The album succeeded the release of Pusha T's Daytona and West's Ye, and preceded the release of Nas' Nasir and Teyana Taylor's K.T.S.E. The album was released to widespread critical acclaim, and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling 142,000 album-equivalent units in its first week of sales.


On February 14, 2016, West released his seventh album The Life of Pablo with the tracks "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" and "Waves" featuring vocals by Cudi.[6] Ten days after releasing his album, West tweeted on February 24, 2016, that an album titled Turbo Grafx 16 would be released that summer named after the video game console of the same name.[7] Later that month, West associate Ibn Jasper posted a photo on Instagram showing West and longtime collaborators Mike Dean, Plain Pat, and Cudi in a recording studio working on West's new album.[8]

West and Cudi had a brief falling out, with Cudi criticising Drake and West for the usage of ghostwriters, tweeting: "These niggas don't give a fuck about me. And they ain't fuckin' with me… I've been loyal to those who haven't been to me and that ends now. Now I'm your threat".[9] West responded to Cudi's comments at the Tampa stop of his Saint Pablo Tour, stating "I birthed you... me, [Plain] Pat, Don C. Don't ever mention 'Ye name, don't try to say who I can do songs with", adding that he felt "so hurt and disrespected" by Cudi's comments.[10] Days later, at a Houston show, West retracted his earlier comments, describing Cudi as his "brother" and "the most influential artist of the past ten years". Cudi, who had since admitted himself into a rehabilitation facility after battling with depression and suicidal thoughts, thanked West, among other supporters, in a Facebook post, writing that "words can't really express how much it made my heart glow".[11] West himself was hospitalized for psychiatric observation in November 2016, with the Saint Pablo Tour being cancelled.[12][13][14]

In December, Cudi released his sixth album Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin' to positive reviews, with West describing the album as "super inspiring".[11] In November 2017, and again in February 2018, West performed “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” live with Cudi.[15] On June 1, a week before the release of Kids See Ghosts, West released his eighth studio album, Ye. Cudi was featured on the track "Ghost Town" alongside PartyNextDoor and 070 Shake, originally slated to appear on Kids See Ghosts.[16] A sequel to "Ghost Town", entitled "Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2)", appears on the album, and features vocals from Ty Dolla Sign.

Release and promotion[edit]

In late 2017, it was rumoured that West and Cudi were working on a collaborative album, reportedly titled Everybody Wins.[17][18][19][20] On April 19, 2018, West announced via Twitter that a collaborative album with Cudi was set to be released in June.[21] He followed the tweet revealing the album's title, which also serves as the name of the duo, Kids See Ghosts.[22][2] On April 25, West revealed the album would be accompanied by a short film, directed by Dexter Navy, who is notable for his collaborations with The Neighbourhood and ASAP Rocky.[23][24] On June 5, Cudi's manager Dennis Cummings announced a listening party for the album in Los Angeles, which was to be conducted a day prior to release.[25]

The live stream debut of the album was set to take place through the WAV app at 11pm EST, but after a series of unexplained delays and much fan frustration, the live stream did not start until 1:50 AM EST on June 8.[26] The digital release of the album also faced technical difficulties, with six songs on the album initially being incorrectly titled and ordered on streaming services.[27] It was eventually corrected a few hours later.


Takashi Murakami's full artwork for the album features inverted kanji characters that translate to "chaos".[28]

In August 2017, West and Cudi visited Japanese artist Takashi Murakami's studio in Tokyo, with Murakami sharing images of the three via Instagram.[17] West had previously collaborated with Murakami for the artwork of his third studio album Graduation (2007) and the animated music video for its opening track, "Good Morning."[29]

On April 22, 2018, West shared sketches by Murakami related to the album, confirming the album name to be Kids See Ghosts.[23] On the sketches, Murakami noted that West had brought forward the idea of portraying an anthropomorphized bear and fox, to reflect West and Cudi respectively. Cudi initially suggested that his character be represented by a dog, however upon seeing an early sketch, West insisted that Cudi was better represented by a fox.[18]

Cudi unveiled Murakami's finished artwork for the album on June 6.[30] A cropped version of the artwork was used for the album's release, featuring new kanji characters in the bottom-left corner, which translate to "kids see ghosts". Murakami cited Katsushika Hokusai's Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji as the basis of the artwork's background image of Mount Fuji.[31] The work has also been compared to Murakami's own 2001 piece Manji Fuji, with similarities including the Mount Fuji backdrop, bending trees and Murakami's signature "Oval" characters.[28]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Kids See Ghosts is characterized by music critics as hip hop,[32] psychedelic[33] and rap rock,[33] incorporating elements of 1970s-era psychedelic rock.[34]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[4]
The A.V. ClubB[37]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[38]
The Guardian4/5 stars[33]
NME4/5 stars[32]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[41]

Kids See Ghosts received widespread acclaim from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 84, based on 18 reviews.[36] In a positive review, Dean Van Nguyen of The Guardian referred to the album as "a psychedelic return to godlike power", commending Cudi's performance and the chemistry of the artists, as well as the lyricism: "The brevity is effective as Kanye and Cudi stack ideas on top of ideas, packing the 23 minutes with as much creativity as possible. The chemistry is that of two old friends who no longer have to second-guess each other's instincts", concluding that the album reasserts West "as a fun, thrilling rap music-maker that tests the genre's boundaries."[33] Jayson Greene of Pitchfork wrote that "the songs are the most intriguing ones to emerge from this Wyoming project thus far". He compared it positively to West's preceding album Ye, writing that "a lot of the energy that Ye seemed to be gasping for fills the lungs of this project, and it’s humbling to consider how much this material might have enlivened West’s own album", praising the "soul and depth" of Cudi's contributions to the album, and "the psychic bond" between the two artists, which "yields a spacious and melancholy album about brokenness". He concluded that: "For the first time in years, Kanye sounds at peace. Here he is, again, where he has always yearned to be: damned, on the brink of irredeemable, gazing directly into some abyss from which he could never climb out".[40]

In a highly positive review, Russell Stone of Highsnobiety praised Cudi's performance for "fueling the album's immaculate feel" and "sounding the most empowered you've ever heard him", while complimenting West's "mind-bending" production and focused subject matter, in contrast to his lyricism on Ye.[44] Jordan Bassett of NME concluded that Kids See Ghosts "sounds, suitably, ghostly and supernatural – a brief glimpse into another world" and is "the sound of two artists looking back over the vast distance they've travelled so far."[32] For The A.V. Club, Marty Sartini Garner praised Cudi's contributions as "without qualification, the spiritual and artistic backbone of Kids See Ghosts, the source of its truest artistic risks and the instrument of its greatest triumphs", writing that he "lifts Kanye up", who "allows Cudi to take him further than he’s been willing to go by himself". He further stated that the album "marks [Cudi]'s true return only a year and a half after he checked himself into rehab to fight depression and suicidal ideation, and taking the time out to work on himself seems to have done him wonders".[37] Chuck Arnold of Entertainment Weekly wrote that the album "had a lot going against it before it dropped from the Wyoming wilderness", but that the album's "hope, healing, and haunting music in the face of darkness" causes these concerns to "go out the window", and that West and Cudi "craft a work that easily surpasses Ye both musically and emotionally". He concluded that the album "leaves you greedy for more … But hopefully Kanye and Cudi have rid themselves of enough ghosts to bust out more of this kind of artistry".[38] Writing for Rolling Stone, Christopher R. Weingarten wrote that the album is "nowhere near as incisive, infectious or rewarding as their best work", but is "still an important step forward into an era of big moods and short attention spans".[41]

Aaron Williams of Uproxx wrote that "Kids See Ghosts winds up having more replay value than either of the paired artists prior efforts. It's more bold and less irritating than Ye's trollish, wounded affect, and less long-winded and more forceful than Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin'", while also praising the duo's chemistry: "The pairing of Kid Cudi with Kanye West for a full project highlights their strongest ideas and mitigates the weakest, sounding exactly like you'd hope for it to have sounded around 2009, when both artists seemed to be at their creative peaks."[45] For Variety, Craig Jenkins referred to the album as a "win" that both artists "badly needed", writing: "Kids See Ghosts is the succulent fruit of a collaboration that stretches back a decade; it's the guitar album Cudi has tried and failed at twice; and it's the longest we've heard Kanye speak this year without saying anything awful or otherwise disappointing".[46] Eric Diep of Billboard complimented the duo's chemistry, stating that Kids See Ghosts will "certainly be respected for how the songs aren't a collection of scattered ideas, but full thoughts with real messages of finding the light in the darkness."[47]

In December 2018, “Kids See Ghosts” was ranked as the 30th best album of the year by Billboard.[48]

Commercial performance[edit]

Kids See Ghosts debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 with 142,000 album-equivalent units, of which 79,000 were pure album sales.[49] It serves as West's tenth top-five album and Cudi's sixth top-five album in the United States.[49]

All seven tracks debuted in the Billboard Hot 100.[50] The track "Reborn" managed to chart in the top 40 of the US Hot 100, at number 39.[50]

Track listing[edit]

Credits adapted from liner notes.[51]

1."Feel the Love" (featuring Pusha T)2:45
3."4th Dimension" (featuring Louis Prima)
4."Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2)" (featuring Ty Dolla Sign)
6."Kids See Ghosts" (featuring Yasiin Bey)
  • West
  • Kid Cudi
  • Plain Pat
  • Dawson[b]
  • Vernon[b]
  • Goldstein[b]
7."Cudi Montage"
  • Kid Cudi
  • Dot da Genius
  • Dean[a]
Total length:23:53


  • ^[a] signifies a co-producer
  • ^[b] signifies an additional producer
  • ^[c] signifies an additional programmer


  • "Fire" contains a sample of "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!", written and performed by Jerry "Napoleon XIV" Samuels.
  • "4th Dimension" contains a sample of "What Will Santa Claus Say", written and performed by Louis Prima; and an uncredited sample of "Someday", written and performed by Shirley Ann Lee.[52]
  • "Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2)" contains a sample of "Stark", written and performed by Corin "Mr. Chop" Littler; and uncredited excerpts from an interview with Marcus Garvey.[52]
  • "Cudi Montage" contains a sample of "Burn the Rain", written and performed by Kurt Cobain.


Credits adapted from liner notes.[51]

  • Zack Djurich – engineering, acoustic guitar (track 4)
  • Mike Malchicoff – engineering
  • William J. Sullivan – engineering
  • Noah Goldstein – engineering (tracks 1–3, 5–7)
  • Andrew Dawson – engineering (tracks 1, 4–6), mixing (tracks 1, 5)
  • Tom Kahre – engineering (track 1)
  • Nico Aglietti – engineering (track 4)
  • Thomas Cullison – engineering (track 5)
  • Mike Dean – mixing, mastering
  • Jess Jackson – mixing
  • Sean Solymar – mix assistance
  • Takashi Murakami – creative direction, artwork, calligraphy
  • Aki Kondo – character design
  • Katsushika Hokusai – background art (View Of Mt. Fuji (1847))



  1. ^ The logo of Kid Cudi's Wicked Awesome imprint is also included on the album's back cover, but the label played no official role in the album's release.


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External links[edit]