Rappers often adopt unique or unusual stage names to create a distinct identity that resonates with their audience. One of the most intriguing aspects of the rap world is the creativity that goes into these names, which often reflect personal stories, cultural references, or sheer (and random) originality. For instance, Lil Uzi Vert, born Symere Woods, chose their name because a friend remarked that their rapid rap style was reminiscent of a machine gun. That led them to combine "uzi" with "vert," a play on the word "vertical" and a symbol of their aspirations to rise to the top.

Another notable example is Childish Gambino, the stage name of Donald Glover, a comedian and actor who found his rap moniker using an online Wu-Tang Clan name generator. His choice of an alias with such a whimsical origin story underscores the often-serendipitous path to crafting a memorable persona in the Hip Hop world.

Even more interesting is how the rapper Lil Dicky, born David Burd, chose his humorous and catchy name from a very real medical issue involving his genitals. Meanwhile, Tauheed K. Epps has backstories for both his current stage name, 2 Chainz, and the professional alter ego that he used during the earlier parts of his career.

Below, check out 19 different rap names and the reasons for their creation -- some of which might surprise you more than others.

1. Plies

A XXL blog entry previously shared what was claimed to be a quote from VIBE – one that saw Plies explaining the origin of his name in the most unconventional way possible. In the above interview, the Florida talent gave a much more sensible meaning. “It’s a term from Ft. Myers that we call street cats that was gettin’ money,” he explained in the clip.

2. Waka Flocka Flame

In an interview with the Black Lips’ Jared Swilley, Waka Flocka Flame explained how the first part of his rap moniker was a nickname given to him by his cousin, a callback to a famous “Muppet Babies” catchphrase. Answering a fan in another sit-down, the New York-born, Georgia-bred talent gave credit to longtime collaborator Gucci Mane for the rest.

3. XXXTentacion

Before his unfortunate passing, XXXTentacion translated his alias to “unknown temptation.” “For some time, the ‘X’ was the only unknown numeral to me,” he stated during a radio appearance. “It’s like John Doe; John Doe stands for unknown.” “Tentación” means “temptation” in Spanish.

4. Lil Uzi Vert

Lil Uzi Vert’s name isn’t as complicated as one might think. As they explained above, a peer gave them props by comparing their fast rap flow to a machine gun, which led to the use of “uzi.” “Vert” is simply short for “vertical,” or – as the Philly rhymer put it -- “straight to the top.”

5. Ski Mask The Slump God

As he revealed in Office Magazine, all aspects of this Florida star’s name was derived from a wild lifestyle as a youth and during the earlier stages of his career. “I guess Slump God came from taking too much Xanax when I was younger,” he admitted. “I stopped taking them – me making music on Xanax is not a pretty thing. Ski Mask is just skiing, I guess being fast.”

6. Jadakiss

Speaking to China Mac, Jadakiss went into detail about how his moniker was created seemingly at random by one of his homeboys (he used to rap as J. Ski during his days in Catholic school). “He just called me [Jadakiss] by mistake and I was smart enough to experiment with it,” The LOX emcee added in a Q&A with The Harvard Crimson. “I took it and ran with it ‘cause I was looking for a name at the time anyway.”

7. Lil Ugly Mane

It’s not particularly clear where Lil Ugly Mane got such an odd moniker, but it should be noted that Travis Miller had a slew of nicknames that he utilized during different times of his career. Pseudonyms like Shawn Kemp, Bedwetter, and Vudmurk were all notable for an individual who made waves in a variety of genres, including Hip Hop, punk, metal, and even jazz.

8. Papoose

While sharing an Instagram video of his Native American-inspired chain, Papoose used the opportunity to explain where his alias was derived from. “When I was born, my grandmother gave me the nickname,” he revealed. “She felt I resembled an Indian baby. Instead of saying baby, the Indians would say papoose. She later died from cancer. So, when I became [an emcee], instead of creating a fictitious name, I kept the name she gave me.”

9. Lil Yachty

As he revealed in a HOT 97 interview, Lil Yachty’s beginnings were as a part of the Yacht Club collective, and it’s from there that he found his name. He also began using the more simplistic Lil Boat, which served as a title for his popular album and mixtape series.

10. Juice WRLD

The late Juice WRLD came upon his moniker through his love for Tupac Shakur and Juice, the film that Pac starred in. The second half represented his intent to “take over the world,” a notion he made clear to Atlanta’s Hot 107.9. Later on, the Chicago talent told Big Boy that his name also refers to Soulja Boy, who released his Juice mixtape in honor of the aforementioned movie, and MC Juice, a hometown peer who’s largely known for defeating the likes of Rhymefest and Eminem in hotly contested rap battles.

11. Childish Gambino

Donald Glover's stage name, Childish Gambino, came from a Wu-Tang Clan name generator, which makes it one of the most fascinating. “I talked to RZA, and he said, ‘Yo, the computer had a brain,’” Glover partly joked in an interview with Fuse. “For me, it’s kind of, like, silliness and kind of seriousness.” Whatever the case, the multitalent would go on to wow Hip Hop fans and even top Billboard charts using that pseudonym.


In an interview with VICE, JPEGMAFIA explained how his name was created, which appeared to be based on ASAP Mob and its members, but only in reverse. “I lived in Japan for a little bit, and we would just get nicknames off of internet s**t,” he stated. “One n**ga was PNG, one n**ga was Dropbox, and I was just JPEG. My band out there was called Ghost Pop, and one day we were f**king around like, ‘We the mafia now,’ so one was PNGMAFIA, and I was JPEGMAFIA.” Over time, his core fans and peers shortened the name to Peggy as an alternative.

13. Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Like the majority of the Wu-Tang Clan, Ol’ Dirty Bastard pulled his moniker from a martial arts film – specifically, the Chinese flick Ol' Dirty and the Bastard. As a testament to his genius, he flipped the name into another meaning, as Method Man explained how “there ain’t no father to [ODB’s] style” during an intermission on Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).

14. 2 Chainz

Before he was 2 Chainz, the Disturbing Tha Peace alum was known as Tity Boi, a nod to his relationship with his family. “The name Tity Boi actually came from my big mama, from me being spoiled and an only child – breastfed,” he explained to VIBE. To make things more family-friendly, he switched to 2 Chainz. In an interview with Shade 45, he also likened his current nickname to having a “second chance.”

15. Noname

Noname initially used the stage name Noname Gypsy, which she chose during her transition from poetry to music because she admired the nomadic lifestyle associated with gypsies. She later dropped "Gypsy" from her name after learning about its racial connotation, as she did not want to offend Romani people. Speaking to The FADER, Noname’s current moniker reflects her aversion to labels, allowing her creative freedom and the potential to pursue various roles and forms of art without being confined to any single identity.

16. Desiigner

As revealed in an MTV bio, Desiigner began his music career under the name Dezolo. He then switched things up to Designer Royel – with Royel being his middle name – before his sister advised him to drop the second half and add an extra “i,” making his pseudonym what it remains today.

17. Bubba Sparxxx

While it’s not entirely clear where the “Sparxxx” was derived from, the Georgia emcee did explain the other half of his name in an interview with SPIN. “For a while, I was Little Devil, when I was in a group called 1 Card Shi,” he said. “’Bubba’ in the South is really just a random nickname. It’s a good-ole-boy name.”

18. Silkk The Shocker

At first, the brother of No Limit Records’ Master P and C-Murder went as just Silk before adding a ‘k’ to avoid being confused with the R&B group of the same name. After his debut album, The Shocker, the New Orleans legend took that title and expanded his moniker to what fans know today.

19. Lil Dicky

Lil Dicky made it pretty clear in every interview that he has “a weird d**k” and dealt with many genital-related surgeries during his upbringing – an affliction that led to the humorous stage name. In an episode of his show, “Dave,” a fictionalized version of the rapper explained how he was born with a rare birth defect called hypospadias, and – as it turned out – it was art imitating life. “Everything that you saw in that show [about my penis], everything is totally real,” Burd told The Ringer. “Surgery. Right out of the womb. [They] had to go in and fix my d**k.”