Here’s How These Rappers Got Their Names
Hi! My name is … what?

1. Jay-Z / Shawn Corey Carter

Jay-Z / Shawn Corey Carter Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

When Jay-Z was a kid, men in his neighborhood used to refer to him as “jazzy.” He thought the term was accurate, but a little outdated, so he kept the J and the Z and ditched the rest. The new name was also a nod to his mentor Jaz-o and the two subway lines, the J and the Z, that serviced his neighborhood.


2. Eminem / Marshall Bruce Mathers III

Eminem / Marshall Bruce Mathers III Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

Eminem got his name from his initials, M and M, spelled out phonetically.


3. Snoop Dogg / Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr.

Snoop Dogg / Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. Kevin Winter

Snoop got his name because he watched so much Charlie Brown as a kid his mom said he was starting to look like Snoopy.


4. Waka Flocka Flame / Juaquin James Malphurs

Waka Flocka Flame / Juaquin James Malphurs Scott Cunningham / Getty Images

Waka gets his name from Fozzie Bear’s catchprhase in The Muppets. The “Flocka Flame” part was added by fellow rapper Gucci Mane later.


5. Fetty Wap / Willie Maxwell II

 Fetty Wap / Willie Maxwell II Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images

“Fetty” is slang for money and “Wap” is an homage to his idol Gucci Mane, whose nickname is Guwop.


6. Drake / Aubrey Graham

 Drake / Aubrey Graham Kevin Winter

Drake is his middle name.


7. Rick Ross / William Leonard Roberts II

Rick Ross / William Leonard Roberts II Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Rick Ross appropriated the name from a infamous drug kingpin “Freeway” Rick Ross. In fact, the original Rick Ross tried to sue rapper Rick Ross over the name but lost.


8. A$AP Rocky / Rakim Mayers

A$AP Rocky / Rakim Mayers Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

A$AP, which stands for “Always Strive And Prosper,” comes from the Harlem-based rap crew Rocky belongs to. Rocky was a nickname from his mother, based off his first name.


9. M.I.A. / Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam

M.I.A. / Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam Taylor Hill / Getty Images

M.I.A. is a loose acronym of her name and a tribute to her cousin who went Missing In Action while M.I.A. was living in a west London suburb called Acton.


10. Macklemore / Ben Haggerty

Macklemore / Ben Haggerty Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Macklemore invented the name Professor Macklemore for a superhero he drew for a high school graphic design class. He later adopted the name for his alter ego, and then dropped the “Professor” and made it his official stage name.


11. Childish Gambino / Donald Glover

Childish Gambino / Donald Glover Theo Wargo / Getty Images

Childish reportedly got his name by entering “Donald Glover” into a Wu-Tang name generator one night when he was drinking with some friends.


Do you know any other interesting origin stories for rap names? Add ‘em in the comments!


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