Unquestionably, the dog is the animal that is most associated with rap, especially since “dawg” definitely came from the genre. From DMX’s infamous barks to rappers having the dog moniker in their names more than any other animal, rap is canine-solidified.

However, other animals have also influenced rapper names. Some of them derive from machismo while others come from a place of valor or ruggedness. There seems to be an inherent wildness in the general personality of rappers that connects them to the imagery and nature of animals. This list explores emcee titles that derive from certain creatures and analyzes how they might relate to their persona.

1. Tyga

This is, believe it or not, the only big cat rapper name on this list. Tyga isn’t necessarily the most imposing rapper, but he does have the majestic quality of the orange-and-black beast at times.

Funny enough, Tyga’s name is actually an acronym standing for “Thank You God Always,” not an allusion to tigers. Though there isn’t much religious connotation in Tyga’s music, you can hear many expressions of gratitude in songs like “Lift Me Up” and “God Talk.”

2. Snoop Dogg

The most famous animal and dog name in Hip Hop history is Snoop Doggy Dogg, or Snoop Dogg for short. There is no question that his name matches his tone, but it also suits his very dachshund-like features.

Of course, Snoop is named after The Peanuts character Snoopy. His mother gave him this nickname in his youth. There was a time, however, when Snoop shifted to a different animal name. As a reggae artist for a single album, he morphed into Snoop Lion.

3. Nate Dogg

This rap hook mastermind and originator of the melodic rapping style comes up next on the list. Nate Dogg has traversed various rap eras — from the early ’90s gangster rap of the West Coast to the late ’90s rap of Detroit and the early 2000s hustle rap of New York.

Nate is the other legendary Dogg and originally emerged on the scene as a part of the trio 213 with his cousin Snoop, and Warren G. The Dogg part of his name seems to solely come from his blood relative, but his timbre resembles the baritone of the most melodic howl you’ve ever heard.

4. Bow Wow

Bow Wow was arguably the most prominent child rapper to ever exist when he had “Lil'” before his name. The So So Def Recordings prodigy catapulted onto the scene in the ’90s with a name that aligned him with other dog-named rappers like Snoop, who was featured on his debut album aptly named Beware of Dog.

5. Pitbull

To understand Mr. 305’s name, it’s necessary to go to his autobiography. He wrote, “[Pit bulls] bite to lock. The dog is too stupid to lose. And they’re outlawed in Dade County [Florida]. They’re basically everything that I am. It’s been a constant fight.” Pitbull was a rebellious figure in his early aughts of reggaeton rap stardom in South Florida before he became more of a pop star.

There have been countless images of rappers and pit bulls, but only one figure was bold enough to name himself after the infamously aggressive dog. When Pitbull first emerged on the scene in the reggaeton space, you could feel the difference in his delivery, which felt much more abrasive than melodic.

6. Foxy Brown

While this rapper’s name is much more related to the Jimi Hendrix “Foxy Lady” definition of “Foxy” rather than the animal connotation, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t parallel qualities between Foxy Brown and an actual fox. Foxes are associated with cunning intelligence, which is a quality that continually radiates from one of the best female emcees of all time. Her delivery and style are all about balancing aggressiveness and finesse.

One of the lesser-appreciated songs in Foxy’s catalog is “Fox Boogie,” which features Kid Capri. While she doesn’t reference foxes directly on the track, the name says it all as she exudes the epitome of sly delivery, maneuvering her way through the beat.

7. Birdman

The first thing you may think of when you think of rapper and businessman Birdman’s moniker is the bird call delivered on his track “What Happened To That Boy?” featuring Clipse. His signature tongue-trilling call rings through speakers and is something his listeners attempt to duplicate. On the song, Birdman was going under the rap name Baby. However, the single was released on his self-titled album, and the name stuck.

8. Yelawolf

The wolf is an important animal in many Native American cultures, and the rapper Yelawolf added it to the end of his rapper name. His father is Cherokee, and in their culture the word Yela means Sun. Thus, the Sun Wolf rapper was born and burst on the scene in 2009, most prominently with his still-legit mixtape Trunk Muzik. After rising to fame, Yelawolf signed to Eminem’s Shady Records.

9. Young Dolph

While he adapted to using the Dolphin symbol, the Dolph in his name is actually just a shortened version of his first name, Adolph. During Young Dolph’s rap career, though, he leaned into the dolphin label and went as far as even wearing an iced-out chain of the animal. Young Dolph also had a classic song with his protégé Key Glock titled “A Goat & A Dolphin.”

10. Phife Dawg

This former A Tribe Called Quest member is the only dog name on the list that is spelled in the true Hip Hop spelling. While the Dawg element of his name has never been given a backstory, the “ph” spelling of the word “fife” parallels the short instrument to the rapper’s stature.

11. Bad Bunny

The biggest artist reggaeton has ever seen arrives next on this list. The pathway to his artist name is a wholesome one. When he first started making music, he shared a picture of himself online as a child with a sad face in a bunny suit. After sharing his A Christmas Story-esque moment with the world, the name Bad Bunny stuck.

12. Gorilla Zoe

While the Zoe in this Atlanta rapper’s name comes from his childhood nickname, Zoe Pound, the roots of his ape moniker are unknown. That said, Gorilla Zoe, born Alonzo Mathis, leaned into the title with his album names. His first three solo records are Welcome to the Zoo, Don’t Feed Da Animals, and King Kong.

Gorilla Zoe was one of the many prolific rappers releasing copious amounts of free mixtapes to build a buzz. Throughout February 2010, he dropped a different mixtape on DatPiff every day.

13. H.A.W.K.

There’s no mystery behind this Houston rapper’s bird-riddled name since his last name is Hawkins. H.A.W.K., also known as Big Hawk, is an essential and unde-rappreciated member of DJ Screw’s Screwed Up Click. At one point he was even referred to as the crew’s Five Star General. After DJ Screw’s tragic passing, H.A.W.K. had a solo career. At one point he even collaborated with U.S. soccer legend Clint Dempsey on “Don’t Tread” for a Nike World Cup promotion.

14. Slug

Slug, from the group Atmosphere, has a name with a double meaning. Not only is it the small slimy mollusk you find under rocks as a child, but it is also a term for a bullet. One could say oddly that those represent both sides of the artist: Grimy and soft, but also hard and pain-riddled.

There is allegedly another meaning of the name — an acronym meaning “Sean Likes Ugly Girls” since Slug’s real name is Sean. However, that meaning can’t be officially confirmed. Atmosphere, an underground rap group, had a real presence from the late ’90s to the mid-2000s. Slug’s specific flow is more influential than he gets credit for in the rap realm.

15. Open Mike Eagle

Mike Eagle is this art rapper’s actual name. He added the “Open” to make the “Mike” allude to a microphone. He is partially responsible for coining the term “art rap” as his first solo album is called Unapologetic Art Rap.

Though his name has a bird in it, one of the only raps where Open Mike Eagle mentions a bird is in his song “79th and Stony Island.” He raps, “I think the quick turns ruin us/ I used to love Big Bird, then I saw his n-word supercut,” which is a reference to a Sesame Street Big Bird meme that once got an Estée Lauder senior executive fired.

16. GloRilla

GloRilla’s cousin allegedly gave her the eventual rapper name due to her wild antics in her youth. Her rambunctious rapper personality still matches her cousin’s assessment and is part of the reason why her raps are so captivating.

The Memphis spitter had one of the most dominant entries into the rap game in 2022. “F.N.F (Let’s Go)” was arguably the most significant cultural rap song of that year and “Tomorrow 2” featuring Cardi B felt like it stopped time. One of the most unique modern deliveries easily belongs to GloRilla.

17. Tha Dogg Pound

Snoop’s official crew rounds out this list. If we’re going to list Snoop and Nate, it’s only right that Tha Dogg Pound gets recognition. Kurupt and Daz Dillinger are both impeccable rappers in their own right and went on to have fruitful careers on their own.

After debuting as the group on Snoop’s Doggystyle, the duo naturally went on to record their own debut album aptly named Dogg Food. To say that any other rap act in history is more canine-aligned is blasphemy.