Rappers are often quick to change the names we've grown accustomed to. Religion and maturity usually account for the swap, but sometimes, like in Diddy's case, the change is completely unfounded. In many cases, however, the name change has happened before the artist has blown up.
Here are 10 rappers who've changed their names.
Mos Def is now Yasiin bey
At a show in Alaska in 2012, the Brooklynite, born Dante Smith to a Muslim father and known to most as Mos Def, announced to the crowd he would be referred to as his Islamic name Yasiin Bey, which translates to “Heart of God”. The “Ms. Fat Booty” singer has always carried a very conscious undertone in his music while also being explicitly critical of society in songs like “Katrina Clap”, where he spoke on the tragedies of Hurricane Katrina. Bey, however, has yet to drop a major project since the name change.
Common dropped the Sense
The rapper known as Common Sense had to drop his surname after the commercial success of his LPResurrection. A ska band who had thought of the name first sued Common Sense, which gave way to the mononym. Who'd have thunk you could put a price on common sense?
Tityboi is now 2Chainz
Maybe being a chubby kid was the reason that the ATL native, born Tauheed Epps, got his original chuckle-inducing moniker. Before “true” got extended to “TRUUUU”, the artist formerly known as Tityboi was one half of the group Playaz Circle. (You might remember their lone single “Duffle Bag Boy”.) Now reformed as a fashionista with hilarious punch lines, 2Chainz can be found collaborating with top rappers all over the interwebs.
K Dot to Kendrick Lamar
Stepping on the scene as 17 year old from the CPT (with the tough adolescent tone to prove it), the debut mixtape Hub City Threat: Minor of the Year introduced the west coast to Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, who was known then simply as K. Dot. Day-ones and those who like to pretend they listened to his early (and critically acclaimed) works like “Section 80” and “Overly Dedicated” still refer to him as the two syllable alias in an attempt to sound cool in social circles. Seeing that he now belongs to the mainstream, they really should just let it go.
Malice to No Malice
Malice's younger brother (usually confused as his twin) Pusha T explains that Malice “found religion” on his renowned “Fear of God” mixtape. After being featured on “Grindin'” and Justin Timberklake's “Like I Love You”, Malice turned to a life of Christianity. He thus rid himself of much of the malice he rhymed about in his earlier projects, and even featured with Gospel rapper Lecrae in a song. Aside from his music, No Malice penned a book titled Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind and Naked focusing on the exploits that led to the conversion of his name and his subsequent search of peace.
Bow Wow drops the Lil
An even Lil'er Lil Bow Wow would make his on screen debut in Snoop Dogg's “Gin and Juice” video just before dropping his own debut project at age 13. With a Mickey Mouse chain and the quintessential 2001 cornrows, Lil Bow Wow took over radio waves and teenage walls across the country with hits including the middle school favorite “Bounce With Me”. Post-puberty, the rapper born Shad Moss would drop the “lil”, and taste Ciara's goodies (the two dated) before landing the job as 106&Park's new host. Bow Wow's one time counterpart Lil Romeo would also go on to drop his prefix.
Snoop Dogg to Snoop Lion
If you've seen Snoop's documentary Reincarnated, you may know a little more about the transition from the braid wearing Snoop Dogg who rode on the hood of a low-low in his first video to the dreadlocked rasta who's most recently been heard harmonizing over reggae riddims like “Red Light”. Despite the apparent transformation, neither Uncle Snoop's weed intake nor his g'd up swagger have changed much as a recently converted Rastafarian. We're just happy to see the Boss Dogg/Lion keep making and taking the hits.
Andre adds the 3000
From Possum Aloysius Jenkins to Benjamin Andre and finally Andre 3000, the ATLien has been full on quirky since Outkast's debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, which we can assume was a creation of his as well. But the 3000 was not always synonymous with the guy in plaid pants and apple hats, it wasn't until Outkast's Stankonia that Andre would be forever attached to the numerical suffix.
ODB to Dirt McGirt
These two names are essentially one in the same, as the latter alias was nothing more than the Irish translation of the former. We never thought it would get more raw than the way ODB liked it until the November 2004 night when the “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” artist died of a drug overdose, shortly after his name change. After a hologram performance at this year's Rock the Bells festival, it was solidified that the Dirt McGirt alter ego could never reckon with the man we first met on 36 Chambers.
Puff daddy, to p. diddy, to just diddy
Whatever the reason for the name changes, Sean Combs has been able to steadily reinvent himself since starting out as intern at Uptown Records. From the discovery of a hip-hop pillar, (Biggie) to letting the world watch him send amateur rappers across town for sugar cookies on reality TV, Diddy has been synonymous with hip-hop culture for decades. Word is that he'll soon drop the “iddy” and just be referred to as “D”.