1. Jay-Z / Shawn Corey Carter
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 He thought the term was accurate, but a little outdated, so he kept the J and the Z and ditched the rest.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 got his name from his initials, M and M, spelled out phonetically.
3. Snoop Dogg / Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr.
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 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” is slang for money and “Wap” is an homage to his idol Gucci Mane, whose nickname is Guwop.
6. Drake / Aubrey Graham
Drake is his middle name.
7. Rick Ross / William Leonard Roberts II
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, 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. 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 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 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!