How 12 Rappers Came Up with Their Stage Names

How 12 Rappers Came Up with Their Stage Names
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Amethyst Amelia Kelly” just isn’t as catchy as “Iggy Azalea, and Ben Haggerty sounds more like the name of your office IT guy than a guy who would win a Grammy for a song called “Thrift Shop.” So we can understand why rappers—and celebrities in general—usually adopt a stage alias when they become famous (Kanye West excluded). What’s less obvious, however, is why they pick the names that they do. For example, how does one go from Cameron Jibril Thomaz to Wiz Khalifa? The answer’s actually pretty interesting, but you’ll have to click through the slideshow to find out this and more reasons rappers have adopted their stage name alter egos. Numbers four and seven might just be our favorite.

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You know him as Wiz Khalifa, but his real name is Cameron Jibril Thomaz. Wiz took on the stage name on his Muslim grandfather's recommendation. Khalifa is an Arabic word meaning successor or leader, while Wiz refers to being wise.

Photo: Wenn

You know him as Future, but his real name is Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn. While performing with Atlanta hip-hop collective Dungeon Family, he received the nickname "the Future."

Photo: WENN

You know him as 2 Chainz, but his real name is Tauheed Epps. In an interview with VIBE, he explained that his alias is pretty damn literal: "In my eighth-grade yearbook picture, I had on two chains." Apparently he has always "been into jewelry" so the name stuck.

Photo: Wenn

You know him as A$AP Rocky, but his real name is Rakim Mayers. The A$AP thing stands for Always Strive and Prosper, and is the first name shared by his Harlem crew.

Photo: Getty Images

You know her as Iggy Azalea, but her real name is Amethyst Amelia Kelly. Iggy actually decided to adopt a stage name after—wait for it—her dog. As you do. "He used to go around and get in fights with all the other dogs," she told L.A. Record. "I used to try to rap with my real name [Amethyst], but it just doesn't rhyme; it has too many letters."

Photo: Wenn

You know him as Lupe Fiasco, but his real name is Wasalu Muhammad Jaco. When he was younger, Wasalu was shortened to Lu by those close to him, and then after befriending a guy called Lupe, he decided to take that name for himself. As for the second part, that came from the Firm's 1997 track "Firm Fiasco."

Photo: Getty Images

You know her as Missy Elliott , but her real name is Melissa Arnette Elliott, which itself explains the nickname Missy.

Photo: Getty Images

You know him as Gucci Mane, but his real name is Radric Davis. Gucci Mane runs in the family—it's his dad's actual name, which the rapper's grandmother, who had never heard of the clothing brand, chose.

Photo: Getty Images

You know him as Dr. Dre , but his real name is Andre Young. Dre's not a doctor—although he did receive an honorary PhD from the University of California in 2014, so that kind of counts. “The truth is, my mother always wanted me to be a doctor, but I never had the grades. So I took the name Dr. Dre instead," he explained after receiving the honorary degree. "I thought it would be easier to build a 500-million-dollar entertainment empire and hope that one day a school would award me an honorary doctorate. Today is the day that happened.”

Photo: Wenn

You know him as Fabolous , but his real name is John David Jackson. Fab stumbled on his stage name completely by accident and was actually known as Sport, to his friends before he started rapping. When the Brooklyn-raised emcee got his big break, rapping for DJ Clue, he referred to himself in his freestyle as a "fabulous vocabulist." Clue was into the line, and began telling people about the new rapper he had discovered, Fabulous Sport. Fab then just adopted the mistake, dropped the "Sport," and changed the spelling. "The moral of the story is: Every mistake, something can be taken from it, learned from it, or made from it. My mistake made me Fabolous," Fab later explained on his website.

Photo: Wenn

You know him as Busta Rhymes, but his real name is Trevor Tahiem Smith Jr—Chuck D of Public Enemy gave him the alias.

Photo: Wenn

You know him as Eminem, but his real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III. At 17 years old he started rapping under the name M&M—because, initials—but he would later respell as Eminem.

Photo: Wenn

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