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Rappers are a unique breed of musicians. They spit out words like fire and send messages to the world in a way that makes everybody listen. And while they’re at it, these talented peeps carry themselves in the coolest way possible, which is something us fans can only ever dream of.
A large part of being a rapper (other than the talent and swag of course) is their special stage name. Now, these may sound a little ridiculous – but rest assured, each rapper has an interesting story attached to their chosen alias.
If you’re lurking about for some insider info on rapper names, this article will help. Keep reading to know how 10 famous rappers landed their wacky yet cool names!
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1. Rick Ross
I’m sure you’ve heard of the iconic Rick Ross and how much he’s worth in the world of music. Originally called Tony Montana, this Miami rapper had quite the affinity for drugs. So much so that he even chose his rapper name based on a famous drug lord from his hometown.
The name Rick Ross comes from the drug dealer “Freeway Rick Ross”. who supposedly introduced cocaine in the 80s Miami scene. In fact, after getting out of jail, Freeway Rick Ross even tried to sue Tony for using his name.
Alas, the charges didn’t last and Tony Montana is still known as the ever famous “Rick Ross”.
Eminem, one of the most popular music icons of the 90s, always seemed to capture our teenage woes perfectly through his raps. But let’s be real – how many of you, like me, confused his name for the candy M and Ms as a child?
Well, for those of you who don’t know, this famous rapper’s real name is Marshall Bruth Mathers III and he originally went by his initials “M&M”. But later, he decided to make it cooler by turning it into the word “Eminem”.
I know, rappers really do have a lot of creativity.
Eminem also goes by the “Slim Shady” in many of his songs. This alias was meant to represent Eminem’s ruder alter ego.
The name apparently came to him one fine day while sitting in the toilet, and stuck around because it rhymed with so many of his lyrics.
3. Kid Rock
Robert James Ritchie aka Bob Ritchie started off his career as a teenager in the 80s. Most of his childhood was spent in the homes of his school friends, to avoid his troubled family life.
So, he relied on his skills as a DJ to pay back his host families.
From Djing in neighborhood parties, Bob Ritchie ended up teaching himself how to rap, breakdance and amp up his turntable skills. Since this was uncommon for Caucasians in that time, especially in the Detroit area, would often say “Did you see that white kid rock”?
Bob Ritchie really took a liking to what he was being called and started using “Kid Rock” as his stage name.
4. 50 Cent
Curtis Jackson has a troubled past before he decided to become a rapper. He was once deeply intertwined in the world of drug dealing. But thankfully he put it behind him to bless the world with his musical talents.
As his stage name, Curtis picked a really meaningful inspiration for his alias. His name 50 Cent comes from the Brooklyn stick up boy Kelven “50 Cent” Darnell Martin. According to Curtis, he chose the name because he shared the same mentality as the little boy.
Both follow the mantra to survive by any means. What’s more, Darnell, as well as Curtis were both shot multiple times and still survived. So it makes a lot of sense as to why Curtis would choose an alias as special as “50 Cent”.
5. Ice T
Before becoming the beloved rapper we all admire, Tracey Morrow had quite a notorious past. Along with his long list of felonies, he also worked as a pimp for a while. And the name “Ice T” is a tribute to that profession he so very fondly remembers.
Ice T’s name was inspired by Iceberg Slim, who was an actual pimp turned author. He even wrote a book titled “Pimp” that was, if you couldn’t already guess – a literal novel about the infamous trade.
Ice T would often quote Iceberg Slim’s book to his friends, upon which his friends would say, “Yo, kick some more of that Ice, T”. Basically meaning – tell us more! So, Tracey combined his name with his favorite author and took on the stage name Ice T.
6. Wiz Khalifa
Wiz Khalifa’s name has some pretty interesting roots. Originally called Cameron Jibril Thomaz, the rapper renamed himself as Wisdom. This was inspired by his uncle’s name, which in Arabic meant knowledge.
From there, his uncle added “Khalifa” to his name, which meant successor. While this made for a really cool nickname, at the age of 15, Cameron shortened it even further to Wiz. This was also prompted by people saying he was good at everything, aka a Wiz of all trades.
7. Childish Gambino
True to his personality, Donald Glover chose his stage name in the weirdest, most casual way. This talented rapper got his unique title from something as simple as a computer algorithm.
On a college night out with friends, the Wu-Tang Clan name generator strung together some random words and bestowed Donald Glover with the name “Childish Gambino”. Although this happened on a drunk night, the magic of the name did not disappear as the effects of alcohol went away.
Donald Glover gave it some thought and decided it was the one. If you don’t believe me – try typing in Glover’s name in one of the generators. You’ll actually see the words “Childish Gambino” being generated as a tribute!
Macklemore is one of the new generation rappers, that has a super cool backstory for his alias. Actually called Ben Haggerty, he based his stage name on his originally created superhero, Professor Macklemore.
Professor Macklemore was born through an assignment for junior high school, Ben began treating him like an alter ego, and used the name whenever he would dress up in wacky costumes from thrift shops.
Professor Macklemore had a very bold aesthetic that involved a mix of plaid pants and lots of fur. Later on, Ben decided to drop the professor title and just go by the name Macklemore for his rapping career.
9. Snoop Dogg
Would you believe that Snoop Dog’s real name is actually Calvin Broadus? While his original name is great, it certainly doesn’t fit with the chill personality we see on stage.
Well, the story behind the name is even more surprising for fans. Ever since he was a little boy, Calvin loved Charlie Brown’s cartoons. One of those cartoons titled “Peanuts”, had a dog named Snoopy, that young Calvin was a huge fan of.
In fact, according to his mom, Calvin was so obsessed, he even started looking like Snoopy. And so, from the young Snoopy nickname that his mother fondly gave him, Clavin Broadus became the Snoop Dogg that we all love.
Talking about unlikely names, Jay-Z was actually born as Shawn Corey Carter. He was inclined to the world of music from a young age and known as Jazzy by his peers and family.
In 1989, Shawn got his big break when he was mentored by the rapper Jaz-O. Together, they recorded the famous song “the Originators”, after which they got called to the show “Yo! MTV Raps”.
It was at this point that Jazzy turned into Jay-Z. Apart from paying respect to his mentor and bringing in his childhood nickname, Jay-Z’s stage name was also a reference to the J/Z substation near his house in Brooklyn.
Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of the article and gained a lot of random information about rappers and their weird names.
Perhaps now, you too can pick a name of your own. It could be something meaningful, emotional, inspiring or even just a long-running joke or game username.
Whatever floats your boat will work – as long as you feel super cool when being addressed by the name.
So go on and put your newfound knowledge to good use and share it with the world. And do try looking for a suitable name for yourself – it’s actually a fun process!
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