The Best Rapper Stage Name Origin Stories

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Vote up your favorite rapper name origin stories

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.


  • Tupac
    Photo: YouTube
    639 VOTES

    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. 

    639 votes
  • 2
    639 VOTES
    In the '70s, Snoop Dogg (born Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr.) grew up watching Charlie Brown. Snoop's favorite character on the show was Snoopy, and his mom told him that he started to look like Snoopy because he watched the show so much.
    639 votes
  • 3
    421 VOTES
    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.
    421 votes
  • The Notorious B.I.G.
    Photo: The Come Up Show / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
    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. 

    449 votes
  • 5
    456 VOTES
    50 Cent (born Curtis James Jackson III) was inspired by Kelvin "50 Cent" Martin, a famous American robber who grew up in the Bronx. He picked this name because he shares the same mentality with Martin, who was said to rob anyone, even if they only had "50 cents." In addition to sharing the same mind frame, both the rapper and the robber have been shot multiple times.
    456 votes
  • Eminem
    Photo: Shady / Aftermath / Interscope
    611 VOTES

    Initially, Eminem called himself M&M, which are his initials (Marshal Matthers). Later on, he changed it to Eminem.

    611 votes