Ever wonder why your favorite rappers are called the names that they're called? Clearly, rapper names like Waka Flocka Flame and Fetty Wap were not given to these people at birth, so why is it that they go by them? While some musical artists choose to go by their birth names during their rise to stardom, many use their fame to forge a new identity under a stage name.
Some of these names come from their birth names and nicknames, others pay tribute to people that the artists hold dear, while others are used as a source of empowerment (whether it be empowerment for the actual rapper or for the rapper's fans). No matter the rapper stage name, all of them have an origin story.
This is a list of rappers with the most interesting stage names and the stories behind why they picked these names. From rap legends like Biggie and Pac to more contemporary artists like 2 Chainz and The Weeknd, now is your chance to find out what's really in a name. You love their music, you can rattle off the lyrics to your favorite songs as easily as you can recall your name, and you know everything about them. But now's your chance to find out the reason behind why they picked their stage names.
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Nicki Minaj was born with the name Onika Tanya Maraj. Her family and friends called her Nicki (a derivation of Onika), and "Minaj" was created from Maraj. Even though her stage name comes from her real name, Minaj has always hated it. When she signed one of her production deals, the man she signed with wanted her to have the name Minaj. She fought him to keep her name the way it was, but she ultimately lost the battle.
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A$AP Rocky (born Rakim Mayers) and the rest of A$AP Mob have A$AP in front of their stage names. A$AP stands for "Always Strive and Prosper." The second half of his stage name, Rocky, is short for Rakim.
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Initially, Eminem called himself M&M, which are his initials (Marshal Matthers). Later on, he changed it to Eminem.
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When he was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, Jay-Z (born Shawn Corey Carter) was known for being a laid-back and level-headed guy. The OGs from the neighborhood took notice and started saying, "that’s a jazzy little dude." In order to avoid being associated with the older men, he shortened his name to Jay-Z, taking the "J" and the "Z" from Jazzy.
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Tupac was born with the name Lesane Crooks, but his mother, who was a Black Panther activist, renamed him Tupac before he turned one. The name came from Tupac Amaru II, an 18th century Incan Revolutionary who led an uprising against Spanish colonizers in Peru.
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In his sophomore year in college, Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) put his name into a Wu-Tang Clan name generator. Glover actually liked the name, so he stuck with it.
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Wiz Khalifa (born Cameron Jibril Thomaz) got inspiration for his stage name from his uncle's stage name. His uncle used the name Knowledge while they were rapping in a group together. He wanted a name that was similar to his, so he chose Wisdom. His uncle, who is Muslim, added Khalifa (meaning "successor" in Arabic) to the end of his name. He went by Wisdom Khalifa when he was younger, and decided to drop "dom" from when he turned 15.
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Christopher Wallace picked his rap moniker as an homage to Calvin Lockhart's character, Biggie Smalls, in the 1975 film Let's Do it Again. Growing up, Biggie was his nickname because of how much he loved this character. When he was signed, he found out that another rapper already went by the name Biggie Smalls, so he changed his name to The Notorious B.I.G, while still referring to himself as Biggie Smalls in the lyrics of his songs.
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