A rapper’s name is their identity. Through that moniker, fans can sometimes learn about the artist’s character, qualities or beliefs. It’s a brand, which can appreciate or depreciate in value in the eye of the beholder. Over the years, rap names are something MCs have fought for right to keep, been in lawsuits over and demanded respect be put on. So, when a rapper decides they want to change the literal name they’ve built up over years, results may vary.
There are examples of this marketing makeover happening without a hitch. After embarking on a solo career, Tity Boi successfully rebooted his brand as 2 Chainz in 2011. “2 Chainz was just a natural progression. I didn’t wake up and say I’ma change it,” the Atlanta rapper explained during a 2013 DJ Vlad interview, saying he’d been using the nickname as an alias since his early Playaz Circle days. “[It] definitely did [help my career]. [2 Chainz is] definitely more child friendly, people friendly.”
DaBaby’s introduction into the independent rap scene was with the name Baby Jesus, a controversial nom de guerre he ended up changing by his 2016 mixtape, God’s Word: Resurrected. He explained the transition on the tape’s “Intro” track. “Look, DaBaby, baby, baby, baby/Just call me DaBaby, but leave out the Jesus,” he spits. “I turned all the fuck niggas into believers/Just switched out my name for political reasons.”
The easily acceptable swap has been a no-brainer for fans, many of whom don’t even know about his blasphemous beginnings.
While the most highly accepted name changes happen early in an artist’s career before fans can get fully attached to the original, trying to switch things up after a rapper has already been established can be a fool’s errand. Just ask these rhymers.
From Young Thug to Snoop Dogg, Bow Wow and more, take a look at the rappers who tried to change their names but were unsuccessful in doing so for one reason or another.