It's official. Kanye West has legally stripped his name down to two letters: Ye. The change wasn't entirely a surprise, as he used that name for his 2018 studio album, and also tweeted to tell us all that he was "the being formerly known as Kanye West. I am Ye."
Name changes in hip-hop are common; young rappers might start with "Lil" in front of their names, then drop it later as they age. JAY-Z has gone through a series of subtle changes, adding and removing hyphens, umlauts and capitalization. A few of the most notable switches include:
1. Biggie Smalls (The Nortorious B.I.G.)
When Biggie saw the 1975 gangster movie Let's Do It Again, he instantly connected with the character Biggie Smalls. However, his adoption of the character name as a stage name put him in the crosshairs of a lawsuit from Calvin Lockhart, who acted in the film. He was known as The Notorious B.I.G. ever after.
2. Puff Daddy (aka P. Diddy; aka Diddy; aka Sean Combs)
No list of rappers who changed their names would be complete without Puffy. His original nickname was a tribute to his temper. However, over the years, he adopted more formal-sounding names as he moved up the Forbes' Wealthiest Hip-Hop Artists list.
3. Snoop Dogg (Snoop Lion)
While Snoop Dogg's dedication to his Snoop Lion transformation was short-lived, the results are long-lasting. During that era, he explored reggae sounds and emerged with 2013's Reincarnated, which earned him a Grammy nomination.
4. Mac Miller (Easy Mac, Larry Lovestein, Delusional Thomas, Larry Fisherman)
During his short life, Mac Miller released an impressive body of work. He also explored different sounds and roles in music under a range of monikers. As Larry Lovestein, he released a jazz album with crooning vocals. He frequently produced the work of other musicians under the name Larry Fisherman.
5. Ol' Dirty Bastard (Dirt McGirt, Dirt Schultz, Freeloading Rusty, Knifey McStab, Joe Bananas, Big Baby Jesus)
As one of the founding members of Wu-Tang Clan, ODB was a massive talent. As a person and an artist, he was always conscious not to take himself too seriously. While it'd be hard to pick his most notorious gimmicks and actions, among the most comical were his frequent name changes. By one count, he accrued 28 separate professional names over the course of his career.