In the dynamic realm of Hip Hop — where stage names often become synonymous with artistic identities — there lies a fascinating contrast between the personas we see onstage and the individuals behind the scenes. Many of our favorite rappers have unusual or intriguing birth names that may fascinate fans. Knowing their given names often uncovers a layer of personal history, and offers a glimpse into the lives these poetic wordsmiths led before the rhymes flowed.
Come along on our exploration of the birth names of some of the biggest rappers in Hip Hop as we solve the riddles surrounding their professional monikers and unearth their backstories.
1. Moneybagg Yo
DeMario DeWayne White Jr., who we know as Moneybagg Yo, received his stage name during high school from a friend who is currently incarcerated. From his early days to his rise in the rap scene, White’s journey as Moneybagg adds a layer of authenticity to his compelling narrative.
2. Yo Gotti
Born Mario Sentell Giden Mims, Yo Gotti brings a unique authenticity to the Hip Hop scene that reflects his Memphis roots. As an artist, his stage name has become a brand that is synonymous with gritty narratives and street wisdom.
Born Sergio Giavanni Kitchens, Gunna is a rapper who smoothly combines melodic skill and Southern trap influences. Originating from a friend’s nickname, Yunggun, in the early days of his career, the star took on ad lib “gunna,” which stuck and developed into his unique stage name. It then became a byword for his fluid flow and distinct sound style.
4. EST Gee
EST Gee, whose real name is George Albert Stone III, was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He started his career in his community going by the nickname Big Gee. The name took on a deeper significance as he evolved into the artist we know today as EST Gee — EST being an acronym for “everybody shine together.”
5. ASAP Rocky
This Harlem-born rapper and fashion icon was given the name Rakim Athelaston Mayers at birth, which paid homage to the influential Hip Hop artist Rakim. His childhood nickname, Rocky, and his affiliation with the ASAP Mob group gave rise to the stage name ASAP Rocky. This name represents not just his musical background, but also a combination of flair, creativity, and his rise to fame in the Hip Hop and fashion industries.
6. French Montana
Karim Kharbouch, who was born in Rabat, Morocco, migrated to the United States at a young age and settled in the Bronx. His love for Tony Montana, the recognizable character from the film Scarface, and his rising notoriety in New York City’s streets are the origins of his stage name. Not only did Kharbouch become French Montana, but he also became a persona who represents tenacity, the blending of cultures and an incredible journey from Morocco to the center of the Hip Hop scene.
7. Meek Mill
Meek Mill, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, became well-known on the rap scene after emerging from Philly’s battle rap world. His childhood nickname, Meek, inspired his rap moniker, with the addition of Mill, which stands for his aspirations for success and fortune.
The rising star that we know as Rob49 was born Robert Coleman Thomas in New Orleans, Louisiana. Growing up with the nickname Rob, he added 49 to represent the fourth and ninth wards in the city where he was born and raised. In addition to reflecting his personal journey, this combination of name and location honors the diverse cultural fabric of his hometown.
Atlanta-born rapper and trendsetting artist Future was given the name Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn at birth. His professional name originated from his time as part of the musical collective The Dungeon Family. The collective members began calling him “The Future,” and the name stuck. It became a symbol of his innovative approach to music and solidified his status as a pioneering force in the music industry.
10. 2 Chainz
In 2011, Tauheed Epps became the famed rapper 2 Chainz. He changed his original stage name, Tity Boi, to that moniker because he wanted to reflect the lifestyle of wearing two chains and thought it would be more family-friendly. In addition to being a fashion statement, the name represents his metamorphosis in the rap game, where the Atlanta native is now regarded as a symbol of success, style and lyrical expertise.
11. Skilla Baby
Ladies man and up-and-coming rap sensation Skilla Baby was born Trevon Gardner. His rap name came from his passion for basketball. As a child, he earned the nickname Skillz, which represented his game. The childhood nickname developed into Skilla, and as the protege of Sada Baby, the addition of “Baby” to his name came naturally.
12. Sada Baby
Detroit native Sada Baby, named Casada Aaron Sorrell at birth, seamlessly blends his personal history with his artistic identity. His rap moniker comes from a childhood nickname given to him by his family. It became a symbol of authenticity and creativity as he embarked on his music career while staying true to his roots.
13. NBA YoungBoy
The Baton Rouge-born rap phenomenon NBA YoungBoy was named Kentrell DeSean Gaulden at birth. His rap moniker, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, reflects the challenges and determination he faced growing up, which emphasize his resilience and commitment to success in the music industry despite early hardships. Gaulden embraced the name YoungBoy as a nod to his youthful ambition and drive, while Never Broke Again became a powerful mantra showcasing his journey from adversity to triumph.
14. Roddy Ricch
Roddy Ricch, born Rodrick Wayne Moore Jr., emerged from Compton, California as a significant figure in the Hip Hop scene. His rap name traces back to a memorable incident in high school in which he generously paid for his entire class’ lunch. Impressed by his act of kindness, a girl called him Roddy Ricch. Ultimately, the nickname stuck and became the emblem of his journey from high school generosity to rap stardom.
15. 21 Savage
Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, born in Plaistow, London, began his music career in 2013 and became the Atlanta-based rap sensation 21 Savage. His rap moniker originated from his street name and the concept of being a savage in the ruthless environment he navigated. The 21 in his name also came from losing a friend in a shooting on his 21st birthday.
This Toronto-born global icon was named Aubrey Drake Graham at birth. His rap moniker originated from his middle name and became synonymous with his journey from acting in the teen drama “Degrassi” to conquering the music industry. Graham embraced the simplicity and resonance of his middle name, creating a brand that would ultimately define a prolific career in Hip Hop.
Quavo, part of the Atlanta-based Hip Hop trio Migos, was born Quavious Keyate Marshall. His professional name originated from his childhood nickname, Quavo Huncho, which was a reference to his position as the quarterback during his high school football days. Marshall’s transition into Quavo symbolizes both his athletic background and his leadership role in shaping the Migos’ signature style and success in the music industry.
Born Kiari Kendrell Cephus, Offset was a key member of the Migos. His rap persona was shaped by a personal introspection about his perceived “off-ness.” However, the name gained a positive connotation, suggesting that he might be unique, and was always meant to be “on set” and in front of the camera. Cephus accepted the alias as a symbol of his distinct individuality.
Kirshnik Khari Ball, under the more well-known name Takeoff, was also a key member of the critically acclaimed group Migos. His rap moniker attested to his extraordinary ability to finish verses in the studio in a single take. As a testament to his effectiveness and talent, the name Takeoff highlights the crucial part he took in Migos’ rise to fame.
20. Cardi B
Born in the Bronx, New York as Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, the accomplished Hip Hop artist widely known as Cardi B adopted her stage name as a derivation of Bacardi, a rum brand that once served as her nickname. Creatively transforming a casual nickname into her stage identity reflects Cardi B’s ability to seamlessly blend personal history with her vibrant persona in music.
21. Lil Durk
Lil Durk, whose real name is Durk Derrick Banks, hails from Chicago and has solidified his presence in the rap scene. His rap name is a tribute to his father, whose nickname was Durk. Born Dontay Banks, Sr., Lil Durk’s dad — who now goes by Big Durk — chose to name his son after him. It is a name that is marked by familial connections.
22. G Herbo
Herbert Randall Wright III emerged from Chicago as G Herbo — a prominent figure in the Hip Hop scene. An OG in his neighborhood who recognized Wright’s bold demeanor and street credibility bestowed Wright’s rap name upon him. He embraced the name G Herbo, adapting it into a symbol of his authenticity and the challenges he overcame in his journey from the streets of Chicago to success in the rap industry.
Kentavia Miller, born in Houston, Texas, brings bars to her music that are larger than her hometown. Through the lens of ratchet womanism, her stage name KenTheMan is an homage to her childhood nickname Ken and her alter ego, which speaks to her ability to go bar to bar with the boys.
Known for his impeccable lyricism and distinctive fashion sense, John David Jackson rose to prominence in the Hip Hop scene as Fabolous. His rap name was given to him by DJ Clue during a random visit to the radio station, where he ended up delivering an incredibly popular freestyle. Jackson embraced the name Fabolous, a moniker that has become synonymous with his smooth lyrical style.
Gloria Hallelujah Woods, by birth, has a distinctive name that honors both her mother’s unshakable faith in God and her religious upbringing. Her rap name GloRilla was lovingly given to her by an older cousin who knew her wild side, but also saw her talent and potential in the industry.