Words by (@TheKidSkoob)
Hi, My Name Is…
When you read those four words at the top, you most likely finished the 1999 Eminem single debut, which introduced us to the many layers of the lyrical legend. Not only did this record usher in the Detroit Spitter known as Eminem, we also welcomed Slim Shady and Marshall Mathers. Umm, so why is this important, you ask? I’ll tell you why. See, several rappers have made their debut and for some reason or another, they end up trying to re-create themselves with a name change at some point in their career. Apparently YC the Cynic is pondering a name change before he releases his next project, which is what sparked this conversation we’re about to have today. These things rarely end well.
Let’s look at a few examples, shall we. One of my personal favorites to experiment with this whole change-up was my man Peedi Crakk! The north Philly product was one of the bright young spitters of the State Property collective during the reign of Roc-A-Fella Records. At some point during his short-lived run on the label, he realized that having “Crakk” in your name might not be the easiest of sales. Let’s be honest here, there was no way Target or Wal-Mart would be carrying an album by a black man with the name “Crakk” on the front of it. So how do we fix this issue and allow his potential to shine? Well, we name him Peedi Peedi instead. Great, right?! Wrong. The name change was awful and never resulted in any form of success. PC’s album never saw the light of day; he was dropped from the label; he dissed his boss; oh, and he changed his name back to Peedi Crakk. Sensational!
Another shining example we’d like to forget, came from one of hip-hop’s legends, Snoop Dogg. Now, if we think about it, Snoop has undergone a name change and thrived. When we first met the Dogg Father in 1993, he was known as Snoop Doggy Dogg. The young upstart from Long Beach eventually showed a little growth and became Snoop Dogg. See, brother Broadus gave us a very simple, smart, and effective way to upgrade your name – which also morphed into Uncle Snoop as a nickname. The same can’t be said about his recent experiment where he attempted to turn himself into a Rasta, with Snoop Lion. I actually almost threw my laptop out the window just typing that sh*t! Thank God this was simply a failed experiment for a reggae themed album that we all forgot about, and Snoop is now back to his canine roots.
This also reminded me of another pup who attempted a couple name changes. Funny enough, Lil Bow Wow was introduced to us alongside Snoop. The C-walking MC experienced major success under the original name, but eventually outgrew the “little” aspect. I mean, you didn’t expect him to be a child forever, right? So, away goes the ‘Lil’ and he eventually just becomes Bow Wow. I mean, that’s easy enough to deal with and it worked for a little while. But, see, here’s the problem with Bow Wizzle: he always found a way to say or do something stupid, which resulted in people calling him Lil Bow Wow – or worse — all over again. Shad Moss, his government name and most recent professional moniker, recently attempted to hop on social media and explain the latest dance craze, dabbing. This gaff not only made us laugh at him to no end, it also resulted in several ATL rappers firing up some slander for the young pup. So, it looks like “Shad Moss” will always be an uphill battle in terms of gaining acceptance.
Even one of our favorites, Killer Mike, attempted a switch to Mike Bigga in 2010, but only released one song under the alias before abandoning it for his mic strangling roots.
But not all name changes have failed. K-Dot became Kendrick Lamar, Tity-Boi became 2 Chainz, and Puff Daddy became P. Diddy, which eventually became just Diddy. Let’s back up for a quick second. Who remembers when 2 Chainz actually explained the name change?! Like, bruh, how didn’t you know the word “titty” wouldn’t be a good idea? You rappers have gotta make smarter life choices, lol. Thankfully he did, and he’s been ridin’ round and gettin’ it ever since.
The point behind all of this is simple: Think smart, clever, and cool when it comes to choosing your rap name. Also, never forget Cedric the Entertainer’s nickname test. If it’s nothing you can yell down the street with confidence, chances are it probably won’t work. And if you’re stuck between a couple names for legal reasons, there’s always The Notorious B.I.G. road, where you make your preferred alternative names ubiquitous via a hit record, see “Hypnotize” and “Big Poppa” for reference. But let’s keep any sexually-charged, violent references, or narcotics out of our rap names, guys and gals. We’d hate to see you stumble outta the gate, then cling for dear life with a name change, only to end up on “Love & Hip-Hop” battling a former stripper for relevance and airtime.