March 04, 2014

The Science behind Rap Names

What makes a great rap name?  Are there any rules to making a rap name? From "OJ da Juiceman" to "Kendrick Lamar" - a rapper's name can determine how we as consumers and listeners first judge and view an artist.  I did some careful research on rap names and determined what makes the perfect rap name; BUT FIRST let's take a look at some popular and upcoming rappers and their names, and discuss why their name works.


1.) YOUNG THUG: Young Thug aka "Thugga Thugga" is an ATL artist that is buzzing in the hip-hop community for such songs as Stoner and Danny Glover (which Nicki Minaj just put out a remix to).  Despite his high pitched, drug induced, auto-tuned voice, one thing that stands out about this artist is his rap name.  It's a name that seemingly took 5 minutes to create, yet it resonates.  Here's why it works, by calling himself Young Thug it balances out his ridiculous image (tight pants, scrawny dude, screechy voice). In fact there are many allegations that Young Thug is the first gay trap rapper.  But no, how could someone called Young Thug ever be gay!


2.) 2 CHAINZ: From Tity Boi to 2 Chainz, we saw him evolve as an artist and get launched into super stardom.  Many say it was the name change that helped Tity become the artist he is now. I mean, let's be serious TITY BOI????? That sounds like something you'd be tired of hearing if you were a the fat kid in 4th grade that sneaks snacks under his desk. 2 Chainz works because it represents what most rap is; flashy, materialistic, and money oriented... and it happens to be very catchy.


3.) GUNPLAY: Nothing works better than a rap name that seems to fit an individual perfectly. GunPlay, from Maybach Music Group, has the image of a reckless goon.  His hair hasn't seen a comb in about 4 years, he's covered in tats from ankle to face, and he once pistol whipped his own accountant.  If anyone deserves the name GunPlay its this guy.


4.) GHOSTFACE KILLAH: Do I really need to explain why this is such a great rap name? Villainous, intimidating, and down-right genius.  It's a name you should be afraid to say in the mirror three times if you are by yourself.


5.)  PUSHA T: The perfect drug dealer and rapper name. I don't know exactly how Pusha T got his name, but I'm going to assume it was from the streets, pushing heavy amounts of white powder.  Pusha T, who also goes by Pusha Ton and King Push, is not shy when rapping about his past life of moving that snow. It is a rap name that dares you to question his street credibility; I won't Pusha, I won't.


6.) NOTORIOUS B.I.G.: Talk about a perfect rap name.  There hasn't been a better rap name that fully represents the boss-ness and sheer physical size of a person since The Notorious B.I.G.  The very mention of the name invokes respect, fear, and humility. Yeah there is also the aka's "Biggie" and "Big Poppa", but something about that full rap name gives chills.


7.) CURREN$Y: This is another rap name that works well due to the money hungry nature of the hip hop game.  Replacing the "c" with a dollar sign further stresses the importance of money to this New Orleans rapper (although it seems that Curren$y's real rap name should be $toner).  I believe Curren$y was one of the first rappers to start the "put a dollar sign in your rap name" trend.

We'll stop there, but here are some honorable mentions: Gucci Mane, Malice, Prodigy, Young Jeezy, and Scarface.


So, what makes the perfect rap name? The perfect rap name either off-sets your image, or fully supports your character.  A perfect rap name is one that you fully embrace and embody, even if it is a lie.  It must flow off the tongue, it must invoke certain emotions whenever said, and it must improve your rap persona, not hurt it.  To any upcoming rappers who are having trouble deciding on a rap name, if this guide was no help to you at all, check out and maybe you'll have some luck.