To some, it’s a task that couldn’t be made any easier but to many others out there, finding a name that works is a journey all on its own. You can understand the pressure, though. It’s the name that’s going to appear on your songs, on your album covers, on your posters and in magazines. It’s the name that fans will cheer and haters will despise. Don’t be afraid to dream, it may just be the name that some random pop-star calls out at the Grammy Awards when they announce the winner for Best Rap artist…or something.
Most importantly, it’s the name that will identify you and the one you’ll use to proudly introduce yourself to the world. It’s gotta be unique, easy to say and above all else: Easy. To. Remember. (Also maybe easy to spell because chances are, people will eventually try searching for you on Google or Facebook. So here are 4 things to consider when you go about trying to find your rap name.
#1 – Symbolism
I had to mention this first above anything else because it has to be the single most important thing you need to remember when choosing your name because the story of how you of how you got it is one that you’re going to be telling for a long time. I’m sure your parents didn’t pick your name out of a hat and besides, you don’t wanna be that guy going around saying “because it sounded cool.” Using a prefix is no excuse either. Having a name that starts with ‘MC‘, ‘Lil‘ or ‘Yung‘ (for example MC Ren, Lil Yachty or Yung Berg) is common but the word that follows still usually has some meaning to it.
No matter where you draw your inspiration from, let your name highlight a part of your personality. Let it describe your flow or attitude or let it simply reflect your interests. Abbreviations can add a lot of mystery too and keep potential fans curious to discover what each letter means but you’ve got to make it worthwhile for them to find out. A$AP Rocky, and all his crew members, us that acronym which stands for ‘always strive and prosper’. UK recording artist, M.I.A., adopted her name from the term Missing In Action, which referenced the neighbourhood called Action, where she lived, and eventually became a tribute to her cousin that went missing in Sri Lanka.
So you see, no matter which way you spin it, spell it or sound it out, there’s gotta be a good reason behind why you chose it and why it represents you.
#2 – Using Your Birth Name
There has never been, and there never will be, a reason for you not to use the name that’s on your birth certificate. After all, your mom probably took more than a minute trying to decide on what name to give you so why not show your appreciation. You may want to avoid this if your name has more than four syllables. Anything longer will have difficulty rolling off your tongue and will probably struggle to stick in people’s heads. Say it to yourself over and over again and see how comfortable it is.
It’s worth noting that rappers like Kendrick Lamar use their real names to reach a higher level of authenticity with their subject matter and to remove the ‘mask’. Not every superhero needs a costume you know. If the government option isn’t your thing then you can still draw tonnes of inspiration from it. Take Lil Wayne, who’s real name is Dwayne Carter or even Eminem, also known as Marshall Mathers, who got his name from his initials M&M. A little bit of creativity goes a long way so don’t be too quick to knock the name that’s on your ID. Mix it with some commercial flair and you’ll be good.
#3 – Using Your Nickname
Depending on your personality, where you grew up or what you’ve achieved in your life, everybody’s been given a nickname at some stage or created one for themselves. I’m talking about the name your mom used to call you when you were a kid or the name your bros gave you when you were in college, even the name you give your GamingTag on Xbox Live. These are all perfectly good places for you to start.
Just look at Atlanta rapper, T.I., which developed from his childhood nickname ‘Tip’. This was his original stage name but in order to avoid conflict with an artist that had a similar name, it was shortened to just those two letters. Calvin Broadus got the name ‘Snoopy’ from his parents because of his appearance but I’m guessing you probably know him better as Snoop Dogg. See, it may not fit that perfect straight away but with a bit of commercial spin, you’ll have a name that is more appealing and far more marketable.
#4 – Rap Name Generators
These bad boys are seen by many as a cheat, a shortcut for a lack of creativity and just plain old wack. Plus, it goes against everything I just said about symbolism but just hear me out because there is one rapper in particular that has changed my mind almost completely. You may know him as the golden globe award-winning actor, Donald Glover, (from that show, Atlanta) but to the many fans of his music, he also goes by the name, Childish Gambino. There’s no deep story behind it. He simply typed in his real name and that’s what the generator spat back out.
Donald carried that name across mixtapes and independent albums for years until he eventually signed a record deal in 2011. In my opinion, Gambino’s nonchalant attitude to his name reflects the topic of Identity Crisis that appears in many of his lyrics. Bottom line is, he owned that name and proudly made it his own. So whichever name you pick make sure you do exactly that.
It’s strange when you think about it. You don’t wanna overthink it but at the end of the day you can’t just phone it in. My biggest suggestion would be to take your time when deciding on your name because you don’t wanna try and backtrack years later after you’ve splashed that name all across the internet. Having trouble finding your name? We’ll be glad to help you find the one that’ll work for you. Otherwise, feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.
Ryan C. Voller, Recording Artist – Producer – Lead Contributor for HowToMakeHip-Hop.com