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The Best Rapper Stage Name Origin Stories

Updated October 13, 2018 6.4k votes 1.0k voters 43.9k views23 items

List RulesVote 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.

  • 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.
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  • Tupac
    Photo: YouTube

    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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  • 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. 

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  • Eminem
    Photo: @Eminem / Twitter

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

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