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Nowadays, it’s notoriously uncool to arrive in the rap game bearing your own name. Unless you’ve been blessed with a brilliant one at birth — Kanye West sounds like he was born to be a star — most artists have to find a way to seem reputable, and changing their moniker seems like the greatest way to do it.

For as long as the genre has been about, rap stars have taken on new names to elevate their status in the game. It's a practice that's spawned meme-worthy generators for rapper names. See: putting "lil'" in front of literally any inanimate object. The N.W.A boys – Eazy-E, Dr Dre, Ice Cube – all left their original ones behind when they made it big. But nowadays, with the rise of SoundCloud and social media elevating more and more hip-hop artists into the mainstream, making sense of everybody’s backstory, and the name they used to go by is becoming more and more difficult by the minute.

Well, fear no more! Here’s a handy, A-Z list of rappers' pseudonym origin stories. Dig through all of your favorite rapper's names – the real ones they were known by before their first mixtapes dropped — and then flex your newfound knowledge on your unsuspecting friends and foes.

Scroll down below to find your favorite rapper's real names.

070 Shake

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Yeezy collaborator and musical polymath 070 Shake was born Danielle Balbuena in her home state of New Jersey, hence her ‘070’ moniker.

2 Chainz

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The legendary 2 Chainz was known as Tity Boi before he made it big, but his birth name is Tauheed Epps.

21 Savage

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Shayaa Bin Abraham-Joseph was shot six times on his 21st birthday, and so turned to rap to make his life better. He’s now known as 21 Savage.

42 Dugg

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An emerging rapper in the Detroit scene, 42 Dugg has quickly become a fan favorite. 42 Dugg's real name is Dion Marquise Hayes.

50 Cent

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Giving us one of the most legendary runs in the 2000s, Curtis Jackson has treaded in his mic for a stellar career in television. Nonetheless, where would we be without "In Da Club"?

Action Bronson

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Actor, rapper, chef, and exotic olive oil taster, Action Bronson has emerged as one of Queens most illustrious talents. Action Bronson's real name is Ariyan Arslani. Though, he probably prefers his other aliases like "Bam Bam" or "Mr. Baklava.

A$AP Rocky

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Our two-time cover star and fashion killa was born Rakim Athelaston Mayers.

Azealia Banks

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Azealia Banks has just cut out her middle name, ’Amanda’, for her current moniker, but used to go by the name Miss Banks back in the day.

Belly

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The Palestinian-Canadian rapper's name is Ahmad Balshe.

Benny The Butcher

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"The Butcher is coming!" The Buffalo, New York rapper, who has blessed us with two modern classics already, was born Jeremie Damon Pennick.

Bhad Barbie

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When she’s not Bhad Bhabie (or the ‘Cash Me Outside’ girl on Dr. Phil), rap’s most controversial young woman goes by the name of Danielle Bregoli.

BlocBoy JB

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Memphis’ biggest breakout rapper is BlocBoy JB, but before he got the call to collaborate with Drizzy, he was known as James Baker.

Cardi B

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Strangely, there was, indeed, once a time when Cardi B didn’t rule the world. Back then, pre-reality TV and dominating rap career, she went by the name Belcalis Almanzar.

Chance the Rapper

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Chance the Rapper’s very literal stage name is just a condensed version of his birth one: Chancelor Johnathan Bennett.

Chief Keef

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The Chicago legend was born Farrelle Cozart.

cupcakKe

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Chicago’s queen of dirty mouthed, sex-positive rap cupcakKe has the name Elizabeth Eden Harris printed on her passport.

Desiigner

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Viral hitmaker Desiigner has one of the most glam rapper names around, but his full name is so exuberant it could be a rap moniker in itself: Sidney Royel Selby III.

Eminem

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Just in case you don't know the Detroit legend's real name (because you've been living under a rock), the top 5 rapper goes by Marshal Mathers.

EST Gee

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Est Gee is a legend in the making, giving us some of the most vicious and self-reflective Southern hip-hop we've heard in a while. Did you know Est Gee's real name is George Albert Stone III?

Fredo Bang

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One of the leading talents out of Louisiana, Fredo Bang, goes by Fredrick Dewon Thomas Givens II.

Fetty Wap

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Paterson, New Jersey native Willie Maxwell II got hooked on music by playing drums in his local church. Now, he’s known as Fetty Wap.

Fivio Foreign

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Born Maxie Lee Ryles III, his verse on "Off the Grid" is still on repeat.

French Montana

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It tracks that one of the more famous rappers in the game is named after the famous Scarface frontman, but where did the français come from? French Montana learned French fluently when he was still known as Karim Kharbouch.

Future

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Before Atlanta’s very own Future made it big and made killer LPs alongside Drizzy, he was known as Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn.

The Game

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Another LA legend, The Game, to this day, remains one of the most impactful rappers in West Coast lore and across hip hop. The Game was born in Compton, California, with the name Jayceon Terrel Taylor.

G-Eazy

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His name might make him sound like someone who's lived a badass rap lifestyle, but behind his moniker, G-Eazy is known as Gerald Earl Gillum from Oakland, CA.

Gucci Mane

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With over 70 mixtapes under his belt, it’s no surprise that Radric Delantic Davis’s name has been rendered irrelevant when heard alongside his ubiquitous rap nickname: Gucci Mane.

Jay Z

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This man needs no introduction. He's the goat. If you don't know or have been simply living under a rock, Jay Z's real name is Sean Carter.

J. Cole

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Born in Germany but raised in the states, Jermaine Lamarr Cole became J. Cole when he decided to launch his rap career back in 2007.

JPEGMAFIA

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Born Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks, JPEGMAFIA is probably one of the most disruptive rappers we've seen in a minute.

Jay Rock

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Raised in humble town Cali back in the late eighties, nowadays we know Johnny Reed McKinzie, Jr. as Jay Rock.

Joey Bada$$

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The founder of the Pro-Era rap collective bursting out of New York right now, Joey Bada$$ first started making music under the moniker JayOhVee – a little closer to his real name: Jo-vaughn Virginie Scott.

Juice WRLD

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The late leader in the emo-rap era, Juice WRLD was once known as Jarad Higgins. The Illinois native was influenced rap-wise by G-Eazy, and got into rock through Billy Idol.

Juicy J

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Rapper and actor Juicy J flits his time between the silver screen and letting loose behind the mic; his OG name is his only consistency. Back in the day, this dude went by the name Jordan Michael Houston.

Kid Cudi

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Cleveland-born rapper Kid Cudi didn't go by his rap moniker back when he met Kanye for the first time while hustling at BAPE. He went by the name of Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi

Kodak Black

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The controversial kid behind "No Flockin" Dieuson Octave has been nicknamed 'Black’ since he was six years old. But now, as a music maker, we know him better as Kodak Black.

Lil House Phone

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Demonte Hoilett, better known as Lil House Phone, is the mastermind behind some of my favorite West Coast bangers and is easily one of my favorite podcasters. His verse on "Toothache" was one of my favorite verses in 2022.

Lil Mabu

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The mathematical rapper Matthew Peter DeLuca.

Lil Peep

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One of the most respected and now missed kids of the SoundCloud, emo-rap generation, the late, great Lil Peep was born Gustav Åhr.

Lil Pump

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Lil Pump is one of the few people on our list of rappers who could keep his real name and still sound cool as hell. This Miami native was born Gazzy Garcia.

Lil Skies

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Kimetrius Foose's stage name – Lil Skies – is a play on Dark Skies, the moniker used by his dad when he too made rap music.

Lil Uzi Vert

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Soundcloud rap's coolest, Lil Uzi Vert was born Symere Woods in Philadelphia back in ‘94.

Logic

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With a name like his, Logic has always carried clout, ever since the day he was born. After all, his mum and dad named him Sir Robert Bryson Hall II.

Meek Mill

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Recently freed lyricist and hip-hop icon Meek Mill’s famous moniker comes from his middle name: Robert Rihmeek Williams.

Mykki Blanco

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An alt hip-hop genius, the gender-fluid and fierce Mykki Blanco was born Michael Quattlebaum Jr. in Orange County, California.

Nicki Minaj

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Born Onika Tanya Maraj in Trinidad and Tobago, Nicki Minaj entered the pantheon of famous rappers with a pseudonym picked up during her days growing up in Southside Jamaica, Queens.

NLE Choppa

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NLE has progressively gotten better and better over the years. We are looking forward to seeing Bryson Lashun Potts go next.

Offset

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IRL, Cardi B's, Georgia-born Migos boyfriend Offset is called Kiari Kendrell Cephus.

OJ Da Juiceman

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OJ probably gave one of the best songs to come out of Atlanta (see above). His real name is Otis Williams Jr.

Playboi Carti

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The enigmatic vampire's real name is Jordan Terrell Carter.

Polo G

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Though I love the Polo G moniker, his name Taurus Tremani Bartlett is just as dope.

Pop Smoke

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Another legend gone too early, Pop Smoke was a pioneer in the Brookyln Drill scene. Pop Smoke's real name is

Post Malone

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The rapper credited with igniting the resurgence of the White Trash rap aesthetic Post Malone is also known as Austin Richard Post.

Pusha T

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King Pusha's real name is Terrence LeVarr Thornton.

Quavo

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Migos man Quavo, like his bandmates, has a Georgia state heritage and is known better to his family as Quavious Keyate Marshall. He also goes by the Huncho moniker too.

Rico Nasty

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Critically acclaimed, Baltimore rap royalty Rico Nasty might live up to her raunchy pseudonym with her lyrics, but is known as Maria-Cecilia Simone Kelly to those closest to her.

Scarlxrd

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If you need music to turn up to, Scarlxrd is your guy. Scarlxrd real name is Marius Lucas Antonio Listhrop.

Skepta

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He might be one of grime’s biggest forebearers in Great Britain, but his alliances with the leaders of rap too mean that you should probably know Skepta’s real name is Joseph Junior Adenuga.

Ski Mask the Slump God

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Former best friend of the late XXXTentacion, Florida’s Ski Mask the Slump God is also known as Stokeley Clevon Goulbourne.

Slim Jxmmi

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One half of the unstoppable family duo Rae Sremmund, Slim Jxmmi goes by the name of Aaquil Brown when he’s off stage.

Stefflon Don

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Taking inspiration for her stage name from the city she grew up in, Stefflon Don – whose actually lived in Birmingham, Rotterdam, and the British capital – was called Stephanie Victoria Allen before she got into the rap game.

Swae Lee

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The other half of Rae Sremmurd, Swae Lee is known better as Khalif Malikibnsham Brown.

Takeoff

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The late member of the Migos (RIP) trio Takeoff was born Kirshnik Khari Ball. Rumor has it, he’s working on a solo record with Lil Yachty.

Travis Scott

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Some rapper names are so ridiculous they're clearly pseudonyms but you'd be forgiven for thinking Travis Scott is actually Travis Scott by birth. Not so! The rapper – who’s also currently Kylie Jenner’s boo – was actually born Jacques Berman Webster II.

Ty Dolla $ign

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Born and raised in mid-'80s Los Angeles, Tyrone William Griffin, Jr – the son of a member of the funk band Lakeside – went on to become one of his own generation’s focal talents: Ty Dolla $ign.

Tyga

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Cash Money signee Tyga’s moniker might stand for ‘Thank you God always’, but his real name is actually Micheal Ray Stevenson.

Westside Gunn

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Alluring samples, grimy bars, and unfiltered talent. That's what you will get from Buffalo's Westside Gunn. Gunn's real name is Alvin Lamar Worthy.

Wiz Khalifa

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Weed-smoking rap legend Wiz Khalifa takes inspiration for his stage name from the words ‘wisdom’ and the Arabic word for successor, but his birth name is Cameron Jibril Thomaz.

YBN Cordae

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Founder of the internet’s most talked about new rap collective ‘YBN’, Cordae Dunston is known as YBN Cordae when he’s performing with the group.

YG

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Actor, rapper and A$AP Rocky collaborator YG hails from Compton, where he once went by the name Keenon Daequan Ray Jackson.

Young Thug

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Young Thug might have a seriously outlandish rap delivery and aesthetic, but his real name is surprisingly unremarkable: Jeffery Lamar Williams.

Yung Lean

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The greatest thing to come out of Sweden since ABBA and IKEA, cloud-rap king Yung Lean was known as Jonatan Leandoer Håstad before he took Stockholm’s sad boy sound mainstream.

XXXTentacion

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XXXTentacion's real name is Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy. RIP to the legend.

Zebra Katz

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Known for being a big voice on the queer rap scene and the voice behind the Grimes and Azealia Banks-approved "Ima Read," New York City’s Zebra Katz also gets called Ojay Morgan.

For more like this, check out our ranking of the 20 Best Travis Scott songs.

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