What’s In A Name?

“Yo police blitzed the crack game

Drug alias switched to rap names

Fat chains attract fame

Innocent wigs get split when gats flame”

– Ali Vegas (“Theme of New York”)

Al Pachino as Scarface

Who would have ever thought that one of hip-hops most talked about artists in 2011 would be a rapper named Tity Boi? With over 30 guest features, 150+ shows, and a hit single “Spend It,” Tity Boi has became a household name within the hip-hop community. Even though this is a great accomplishment for the former protégé of hip-hop superstar Ludacris, Tity Boi had to change his rap name in order to take his career to the next level. Enter 2 Chainz. The self-proclaimed “Codeine Cowboy” now has the ability to capitalize off of his 2011 success with his new name and solo[1] endeavors. Whether 2 Chainz is seeking fame or fortune, the real question is this: Does a grown man really want people calling him Tity Boi?

Name changes have almost become essential within the hip-hop community. Puff Daddy to P. Diddy to Diddy, Ol’ Dirty Bastard to ODB, Mos Def to Yasiin, rappers always looking to reinvent themselves for various reasons. With an overabundance of rappers who have continuously named themselves after drug kingpins, mobsters, and the dangerous surroundings they grew up around, we are starting to see a change in those who have realized that these names will not allow them to reach the success they have always strived for.

Rappers with Drug Affiliated Names           Rappers with Mobster Affiliated Names

Tony Yayo                                                          Freeway

French Montana                                                 Rick Ross

Peedi Crakk (changed to Peedi Peedi)             Capone-N-Noreaga (Changed to CNN)

Pusha T                                                              Irv Gotti

Scarface                                                             Machine Gun Kelly

Rappers with Names Associated to Violence

Cory Gunz (Named after his father, rapper Peter Gunz)

Ghostface Killah

Uncle Murda

Killer Mike

40 Glocc

Mack 10


C-Murder (Currently serving a life in prison term)

In Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s popular and bestselling book Freakonomics, the author’s devote an entire chapter on the socioeconomic patterns of naming children, particularly within the African American community. The idea between correlation vs. causation can be compared to the names rappers choose for themselves. In the book, we establish the relationship between predicting a child’s success and his or her parent’s socio-economic characteristics. Ultimately, the author’s conclude that the given name does not matter; it’s the characteristics of the parents that are more important. Unfortunately, we can infer based on the stories that artists depict that their parents were addicted to drugs, poor, abusive, or completely out of their lives.

Most hip-hop artists only know about the things they grew up around. That’s their comfort zone and why they always talk about it. Therefore, why wouldn’t we expect them to incorporate the name of a gun or elements of violence in their image?

The moral of the story is this: name and image are everything in the entertainment industry. You create your own destiny so choose it wisely.

[1] 2 Chainz is a member of hip-hop group Playaz Circle; known for hit single “Duffle Bag Boy” in 2007

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