Kid Cudi Reflects on Origin of His Stage Name, Details Alter Ego He Had While Working as Applebee's Server

Kid Cudi sits down with Jimmy Fallon for a 'Tonight Show' interview featuring reflections on his earliest days as an artist and his time at Applebee's.

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2021 has been a proper feast for Kid Cudi fans, and next year is already shaping up to mark a continuation of that feast. Following the bagging of multiple Critics Choice Awards nominations, and ahead of the Netflix drop of Don’t Look Up, Cudi sat down with Jimmy Fallon for a wide-ranging discussion that opened with a reflection on the origin of his stage name.

“My first rap name when I first started when I was, like, 15 was Lil Scott,” Cudi said when asked to give the Tonight Show audience a piece of Cudi history. “I just was a big fan of Lil Wayne at the time and we were, like, close in age so I was like, ‘Oh, this is a young dude doing his thing, that’s pretty cool.’ So it started off with Lil Scott.”

Eventually, however, Cudi said he wanted to be known by something “a little bit more personal,” spurring some experimentation that later resulted in the arrival of the Kid Cudi moniker.

“I thought, you know, using my last name in some way would be cool so it ended up being Kid Mesc, the first half of my last name, right?” he said. “But people kept confusing it and thinking I was saying, like, Kid Mess. So that would really make me upset.”

While working on an early mixtape, Cudi said he was laying down an intro during a session when the name came to him.

“Before the record, you know, how you get amped up and say your name, you say your rap name just to announce this is your record, right? … It went from ‘Kid Mesc!’ to ‘Kid Mescudi!’” he recalled. “And then it went from ‘Kid Mescudi!’ to ‘Kid Cudi!’ and I was like, ‘Oh, this works. I found it.’”

Around the 1:40 mark, Fallon asked Cudi about his last name, prompting the Entergalactic artist and Mad Solar co-founder to issue a correction to those who have mispronounced it for years. “I really want everybody to learn how to pronounce my last name,” Cudi said. “This has been bothering me for 13 years.”

Later, around the 2:29 mark, Cudi looked back on his time working as a server at an Applebee’s in Cleveland. To improve the experience, Cudi recalled, he would often adopt an alternate persona he had crafted, complete with a made-up name.

“I liked to have fun with it because, you know, serving tables, if anybody in here serves tables you know it can get crazy on a Friday night at 7 o’clock,” Cudi told Fallon of the job, funds from which helped Cudi secure studio time. “So I would play games, like, I would make up names for myself. And sometimes I would be, like, Trevor. I was just thinking of the cheesiest name I could come up with. No offense to anybody named Trevor, man. No offense.”

According to Cudi, he would work in full character as “Trevor,” sometimes to the confusion of patrons. “It became such a big thing that people would come on my off days requesting me,” he said, noting that his co-workers would be confused until the customers started describing this mythical “Trevor” individual.

“People would be at work like, ‘There’s no Trevor that works here.’ And they’d be like, ‘Oh, the skinny Black kid, you know?’” Cudi said. “And they’d be like, ‘Oh, you mean Scott. Oh yeah, he’s not here.’” To complete the character, Cudi at one point secretly made a “Trevor” name tag.

Cudi and Fallon also discussed those aforementioned Critics Choice Awards nods, the possibility of those nods ultimately leading to similarly categorized Oscar nominations, his role in Don’t Look Up alongside Ariana Grande, and more. See the full thing up top.

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