More than any other type of music, hip hop relies on stage names to help sell the artist to the public. Usually, these names are derived from childhood experiences, and are designed to sound utterly bad-ass. For real, even if you had no idea who Ghostface Killa or the Notorious B.I.G. were, would you screw with someone named that? Thought not.
Sadly, the name game is sometimes played…badly, and the result is a nickname that neither sounds cool, nor is based upon anything cool. All the swagger and gesturing in the world cannot change the sad bottom line: that we’re expected to take these people seriously, and just plain can’t.
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10. Puff Daddy
Sean Combs’s original name is derived from his childhood nickname, “Puffy”. Immediately, you have to assume nothing awesome inspired a nickname like that, and by God are you ever right. He was given that name because, when he got angry, he would huff and puff his cheeks out like a bad cartoon character. And that’s it; he was Puffy from there on out. No amount of adding “Daddy” to the end, sampling Sting, or pretending to be a pimp can change the fact that, as a child, he made ballooney faces when he got teased.
9. Snoop Dogg
There are two stories surrounding Snoop’s nickname, and they’re both pretty damn silly. Story #1 says that young Calvin Brodus loved Snoopy the dog. Just loved, loved, loved him. So his mother started calling him Snoopy, which might be better than growing up named after Garfield, but not by much.
The other story is just sad. In this tale, Calvin’s mama decided her darling boy looked just like Snoopy the dog and so she started calling him Snoopy. Man, it’s bad enough to look like ANY dog, much less a deformed cartoon beagle who dances by running in place on two gigantic feet. No wonder Snoop smokes so much. Anything to kill the memories.
How the HELL do you pronounce this one? Paws-duh-nose? Pose-dee-new-aws? Mor-on-ic? Probably the last one. This De La Soul member chose his fake name because it’s Sound Sop spelled backwards. Great! So, what the frig IS a Sound Sop? Well, Sound was Psoadhqaksjdsad’s DJ name back in high school, and “sop” is evidently slang for left-over. Maybe in his head it is, but a quick venture over to dictionary.com reveals that a sop is a piece of bread used for dipping in liquid. So if you hate rap but love dinner, Posdnuos is the MC for you!
It’s actually too bad he’s gone on record saying all that crap abut leftovers; soaking up music like a sop of bread is actually a neat metaphor. Oh well, he’s stuck with what he said. Shame he didn’t show up fifteen years later; he could’ve called himself DJ Spongebob. It actually would’ve sounded less silly, and probably would have gotten him more over with the kids. Plus, he wouldn’t have to deal with clowns like us who notice sop’s #4 definition: “a weak-willed or spineless person,” and showcase it for cheap giggles.
7. Bun B
Haven’t heard of Bun B? That’s OK; your life will go on. And once you realize why he calls himself that, you’ll be even more eager to move on. The Bun? It’s not a hamburger bun, so no food-related raps for you. It’s not a “dat ass” reference thank God; it’s beyond unoriginal to talk about asses in hip-hop by this point. Also, it sounds like a Family Feud euphemism.
So, what DOES Bun mean? Bunny. Yes, as in the fluffy, adorable animal that chews on carrots and curtains indiscriminately. And the B? No real reason, actually. It was just a letter that no other local MC was using. This is what counts for originality with some people. He should’ve at least lied and says it stood for Bugs. Sure, he might have gotten sued by Warner Brothers, but at least he would have street cred with the old-timey cartoon crowd.
6. Flo Rida
He lives in Florida. That’s literally what his name means. It’s nothing about his word flow, Aunt Flo, Flo The Progressive Insurance Girl , flow flow flow your boat, or anything else. He took his home state, and split it in two. That has to have set some kind of Guinness record for utter laziness, right?
He’s just lucky he lived in a state with a name that lends itself to such clever separation. Ha Waii is just stupid. Teck Sas? Sounds like a Carmen Sandiego villain. Massa Chusetts? Just a wee bit racist. Why Oming? That state would need an actual population before rappers could go around naming themselves after it.
5. MEMPHIS Bleek
The origin of this name can be traced all the way back to Bleek’s stupid little head. Apparently, he had no childhood experiences to draw on when selecting his identity so he went down another hip-hop route: taking a word and making an incredibly forced acronym out of it. In this case, MEMPHIS, which is a city in the same continent he was born in and that’s about it, suddenly stands for, “Making Easy Money Pimpin’ Hoes In Style.” Remember what we said earlier about how talking about asses in rap is horrendously unoriginal? Well, this goes AT LEAST quintuple for bragging about how much of a pimp you are. Also, real pimps go to jail, since what they do is illegal. Still feel like bragging?
In addition to being one of the few rappers to ever be photographed with a big ol’ toothy politician grin, Jay-Z is also one of the few rappers with a cool-sounding name that started as something lame and cruddy. Seems back in the day, he was known as Jazzy. Sadly, this did not mean he could toot a clarinet with the best of ‘em, but rather that he…well…was jazzy. Somehow. Look, just roll with it; we can’t get to the next paragraph if you’re still hung up on the whole Jazzy thing. We gotta move on.
So Jazzy eventually transmogrified into Jay-Z, fair enough. But Mr. Carter rightly didn’t feel that was an awesome enough backstory, so word started going around that his name was actually a tribute to the J and Z subways lines that intersected near his childhood neighborhood of Brooklyn. Hey, that sounds neat and clever right? WRONG. The J-Z lines weren’t intersected until the late 80’s, well after Mr. Carter finished high school, and long after he started rapping and calling himself Jay-Z. So now his nickname’s origin sucks AND he’s a liar. Poor guy; he’ll just have to console himself with his millions upon millions of dollars, smoking hot wife, universal respect as an artistic genius, and ridiculously-named baby girl. Hope he makes it.
Much like “MEMPHIS Bleek”, this name is based on purest fantasy, not to mention rampant stupidity. See, Ludacris has a split personality, and his second side is just so crazy and ridiculous you have no idea. Well, he is pretty wacky, we’ll give him that. But why Ludacris then, and not Crazy or Wacky or MC Loony Tunes?
Because his real name is Chris. Cris. Ludacris. This makes no sense, for one simple reason: “Ludacris” was supposed to be the rapper’s other personality. Yet that personality’s name is Chris too? That’s not how it works. It’s not just you with a dash of nutty. It’s a totally different person inside of you, so if “Chris” had a real split personality issue, we’d all be buying albums from Ludabetty or Ludalittlesuziedownthestreet. It would probably be an improvement too.
2. P. Diddy
Oh hi, Mr. Combs! So glad you could join us again. Yes, Puff Daddy went from one awful nickname with a crappy origin to an even worse one, basically overnight. After he was implicated in a shooting at a nightclub back in 2001, Puffy dropped a veritable bombshell: he was no longer Puff Daddy. See, that name had garnered too many negative connotations, and he wanted to get away from all that. So from here on in he would be known as P. Diddy. Absolutely nothing would change about him per se, but he had a fresh new name that had nothing to do with guns. It did, however, have everything to do with rampant retardation and a complete lack of explanation. Eh, it’s a start.
Wait, it gets better! A couple years later, P. Diddy announced yet another name change. This time P. Diddy magically became…Diddy. The reasoning behind this is pure Puff Diddy Dad Daddy Puffy Dad Puff: the “P” was separating him from his fans. Apparently, his fans only made it to the 15th letter of the alphabet before giving up, so good on him for being mindful of this crippling learning disability. But now he has to dump the “Y” at the end and just be Didd. That way all his fans can confidently say their hero’s name and act like they know what they’re talking about.
1. Kenn Starr
No. Wrong. SHENANIGANS. Google and Wikipedia give us no other name for this guy, but we cannot possibly believe he is actually named Kenn Starr. No, he had to have selected that name, both due to having nothing else in his creative banks, and also so he could name his album “The Starr Report” and then grin widely at his buddies so they know just how clever he is. That name wouldn’t even be witty and topical in 1998, never mind in 2006, when the album actually dropped. That’s like the next hot young star calling himself OJ.
Oh, and in the off-chance that IS his real name? This is why nicknames exist in the first place. Real names are almost never bad-ass enough to work, unless your name is Tupac. Even Will Smith called himself Fresh Prince until he was so obnoxiously rich he simply didn’t give a crap anymore. So please, try again with a better name, and see what happens. KENNY.