The Best Name-Changes in Rap History
  • THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 2012

  • Posted by: Andrew Gruttadaro

Less than a week ago, Chip Tha Ripper became the most recent rapper to change his name, becoming King Chip. The Kid Cudi pal, possibly sensing that we might be a tad skeptical, was quick to give us an explanation, and it's pretty in-depth. "I am King Chip. Actually born in the ghetto slums of east Cleveland, Ohio. Rest in Peace my mentor & former King Hawk. His death made me..." he tweeted, adding, "My birth name is Charles Jawanzaa Worth. Jawanzaa is Swahili and it means 'great leader and great warrior.' Look it up. I am King Chip." I tried to look it up and didn't really find anything, but hey, at least it seems like he's got some good reasons for dropping "Tha Ripper" and becoming a king. And need we remind you about Snoop Lion? That guy went to Jamaica a rapper and came back as "Bob Marly reincarnated." These are two pretty momentous changeups in the rap game (okay, maybe one of them is a way bigger deal than the other), and they got us thinking: What are the best name-changes in rap history? Here's the five that made our list. 5. Game Year: 2009 The Change: The Game to Game In 2009, The Game made a real big career move -- he dropped the "the." We're assuming -- because besides saying he "got a haircut," Game has not explained the change -- that Game was tired of being definitive and wanted to broaden things up. Now, he's no longer the Game, he's just all things associated with the idea of a Game. Or maybe he just saw an early cut of The Social Network. 4. 2 Chainz Year: 2012 The Change: Tity Boi to 2 Chainz Question: What do rappers aspire to be? Did you answer "family friendly?" If you did, then you must be 2 Chainz. Earlier this year, over "a bowl of kush," the rapper tossed aside his mammary-centric moniker in favor of 2 Chainz for several reasons. First, because it's more "family friendly" (although we suspect his idea of this term differs from ours), because he often raps about jewelry, and lastly because 2 Chainz signifies a second chance. It seems like he made the right call, because Tity Boi definitely wasn't getting Team USA shout-outs. 3. 2Pac Year: 1995 The Change: 2Pac to Makaveli During his eleven-month prison stint, Tupac Shakur did more than just smuggle Raquel Welch posters and make chess pieces out of stone. He read Machiavelli's The Prince and identified with it so strongly that it inspired him to assume the writer's name. Unfortunately, 2Pac was shot and killed before a Makaveli album was ever released, so the name-change is now mostly overlooked. We give this one such a high ranking mainly because of how far ahead Tupac was on this trend -- countless rappers have adopted Machiavelli's cut-throat philosophy on power. Not to mention that this name-change hugely contributes to the conspiracy theory that Tupac Shakur is still alive -- in The Prince, Machiavelli writes about faking one's death in order to fool enemies. Coincidence or not, you decide. 2. Ol' Dirty Bastard Year(s): 1998 and 2004 The Change(s): Ol' Dirty Bastard to Big Baby Jesus, to Ol' Dirty Bastard, to Dirt McGirt Leave it to the craziest member of the Wu-Tang Clan to make some of the most hilarious, most random name changes in rap history. Here's ODB on becoming Big Baby Jesus in 1998: "I always been Jesus. I don't know what the big secret's been all these years...but the truth's gonna be revealed one day." Okay, so Ol' Dirty Bastard believed he was Jesus...a big infantile Jesus. That's fair. The best thing about this name-change though was that he confidently proclaimed that it would be his last, because he went back to ODB pretty quickly. And then in 2004 he switched things up again by becoming the gloriously-named Dirt McGirt. Annnnd here's ODB on changing his name again: "Dirt McGirt comes from Dirt McGirt Island. It's a place that's right off the block from the next island off of Batman Island. I can't let you know exactly where it is -- it's a secret, you know? Wonder Woman told me not to say nothing." Yeah, we'll let that soak in. 1. Puff Daddy Year(s): 2001, 2005, and 2011 The Change(s): Puff Daddy to P. Diddy, to Diddy, to Swag The granddaddy of hip-hop name-changing.In 2001, he had a pretty decent reason to abandon Puff Daddy -- remember that whole shooting trial thing? No one blamed him for wanting to turn over a new leaf. But he started writing the book on name-changing and going off the deep end in 2005, when he told Matt Lauer that his name was confusing (it wasn't), and that he was going to simplify things: "One word. Five letters. Period." Thanks for making our lives so much easier Diddy! Then in 2011, Diddy came down with a real killer of a flu bug and while sick, he got the idea to change his name again, for one week. In a YouTube video, Diddy told his vassals that for one week, they could call him Swag. His reasoning? "Because it's the truth!!!" And that, Snoop Lion, is how it's done.
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