10 Legendary Rappers Who Have Changed Their Stage Names (For Better or For Worse) - Music | MERRY JANE
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10 Legendary Rappers Who Have Changed Their Stage Names (For Better or For Worse)

The hip-hop game has a long lineage of famous rappers changing their names…

by Tyler Koslow

The artist formerly known as Young Thug has annouced he'll be changing his alias to “No, My Name is Jeffery” ahead of his upcoming project Jeffery dropping August 26.

Ahead of Thuggers new swag, we thought we’d provide a refresher on some the most historical hip hop name changes of all time.

Some of them are well documented by pop culture, while others took place before these top-tier artists gained fame and recognition, and may have gone unknown to even the most diehard fans.

Read on for 10 game-changing figures in the rap game who have switched up their stage names (at least once…)  

2 Chainz

With one of the more interesting personas when he came on the scene, the pristine Atlanta-based rapper 2 Chainz was once known as Tity Boi. According to an interview with Shade 45 back in 2012, 2 Chainz explained the name change was made for a few reasons, including the fact that it was more family friendly, it signified his second chance I the game after Playaz Circle (his original rap duo with Dolla Boy before venturing solo), and also because he just thought of it over  “a big bowl of kush for breakfast”.

Kendrick Lamar



Back before Kendrick Lamar became the new hip hop superhero of Compton, California, the undisputed King Kendrick was just an up-and-coming rapper who went by the name of K. Dot. Kendrick had adopted the original name when he began rapping at the young age of 13, but soon realized that in order to grow as a lyricist and make himself known on the hip hop circuit, it was best for him to use his government name.   

Pusha T



Back before his prominent solo career took off, even prior to when he made up one-half of the classic hip hop duo Clipse, Pusha T went used to spit under the name “Terror”. According to this old interview with King Push, the original name Terror came from his family, since he was born on Friday the 13th. But not long after, Pusha T was passed onto him from his friends, and Virginia-based rapper and dope slinger became one of the most respected names in the game.

Big Pun



Before the late Big Pun (birth name Christopher Rios) became perhaps the greatest Latino MC of all time, the Bronx-based rapper started off his short, yet powerful career under the moniker Big Moon Dawg. In 1995, Rios changed his name to Big Pun, and subsequently met Fat Joe and appeared on his second album. With that, Big Punisher released the classic record Capital Punishment, and became one the most revered rappers to ever grace the game.

The Notorious BIG



Although the late New York City legend Christopher Wallace is still known by both Biggie Smalls and The Notorious B.I.G., the rapper actually had to move away from the Biggie Smalls title after actor Calvin Lockhart, who played a character with the same name in the 1975 movie Let’s Do It Again, decided to file a lawsuit against Big Poppa. This forced B.I.G. to officially take on the moniker of The Notorious B.I.G., an equally fitting and well recognized name.  

Mos Def


After gaining a reputation as one of the most lyrically talented MCs in the game, the Brooklyn-bred rapper Mos Def decided to change his name to Yasiin Bey. According to an interview with GQ back in 2012, Yasiin Bey was used as his name for friends and family since 1999, and once he feared that his stage name Mos Def would get productized, the rapper decided to retire his go public with his new persona, which he felt was more true to his current self.

 

J. Cole



In similar fashion to Kendrick Lamar, North Carolina native J. Cole didn’t always go with the abbreviated version of his birth name Jermaine Cole. Back when he was just a 17-year-old looking to get in with the local hip hop group Bomb Shelter, Cole was given the alias “Therapist”. After realizing a few years later that the moniker sounded like the name of a wrestler, and didn’t really portray his true nature, the Roc Nation star decided to keep it simple and go with J. Cole.

Diddy



His goverment name is Sean Combs, but you probably know him as the ultimate king of changing up his hip hop name. After gaining international recognition alongside the late Biggie Smalls under the name of Puff Daddy, Combs went on to reclassify his stage name to Puffy, P. Diddy, and Diddy throughout his career.

Tupac



Before he became the West Coast legend and arguably the greatest rapper of all time, Tupac Shakur was an city-slicking rhymer by the name of MC New York. Now, this fact is strange to a few because of the role that he played in the West Coast vs East Coast beef throughout the 90s, but before moving to California, Tupac had adopted the title while briefly living in Baltimore.

Snoop Dogg


This list wouldn’t be complete without the man himself, Snoop Dogg, who stretched his wide-reaching talents out towards into reggae world a few years back under the name Snoop Lion. The Doggfather undertook the new name to create his Grammy-nominated reggae album Reincarnated back in 2013, and has since returned to the hip hop scene with his canine roots still intact, although he still certainly feels the rastaman vibrations.


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Tyler Koslow is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer with an intensive focus on technology, music, pop culture, and of course, cannabis and its impending legalization.



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