Rap names and their origins

Erik Schultz

Micah Osler, copy editor

Is the world of rap names – those strange pseudonyms we hide behind like masqueraders as we lay down the sick rhymes and strained metaphors of life – to your poor soul a baffling fog from which there is no escape, dear Reader? Do you stay up late at night, sitting alone in your bed as you watch the numbers on the alarm clock slide past like so many missed opportunities, your cold sweat a prison as your mind churns, trying to figure out why the hell anyone would ever call himself “Vanilla Ice”? Has your life descended into a horrifying existential nightmare where every empty doorway seems to whisper, “Rap names!” into your ear and you scream but nobody can hear you as you sit alone, even the ghosts have left you now, leaving you ever alone ever alone oh God ever alone?

Silly Reader! Of course that’s not your life. Or at least I hope it isn’t. I just wanted an overblown Gothic intro for this list of rap names and their origins.

Dr. Dre – Dre received his Ph.D in 18th Century English Literature and Comparative Gender Studies from Brown University in 1989.

Li’l Wayne – Wayne was nicknamed as such upon his birth in 1982, when his parents, diehard Edmonton Oilers fans, observed that their son was significantly smaller than Wayne Gretzky.

Macklemore – Prior to his rap career, Benjamin Haggerty worked as an unsuccessful bird exterminator for the City of Seattle; “Macklemore” was chosen after “Gracklemore”, his nickname within the Seattle Parks and Rec Department, tested poorly with focus groups.

Gucci Mane – This name stems from Mane’s inexplicable tenure from 2002 to 2006 as Director of Ports for the State of Maine, where he was responsible for providing the state’s many retail outlets with imported Gucci items.

Ice Cube – Few know that Cube’s name is a sly reference to his proud Saskatchewanian heritage.

50 Cent – Desperate for a rap name, Cent found inspiration on the price tag of one of his thousands upon thousands of Beanie Babies (specifically, a now-discontinued kitten named Smuffles, whose début guest verse on “In da Club” was very well-received).

Xzibit – Technically, a truncation of the rapper’s proper title, “Xzibit of Mid-Twentief Centry Abstrakt Landzkapez Hylightin da Poztmodern Senzibilitiz of da Timez, featurd at da Muzeum of Modern Artz until Oktober Sixzteenf”.

Vanilla Ice – Ha! Ha! Ha! Vanilla Ice! Ha ha ha ha ha! That always kills me.

Sir Mix-a-Lot – Hubert Mix-a-Lot was named an Officer of the British Empire in 1979 when, as a sixteen-year-old urchin on the streets of London, he pushed the Queen out of the way of a speeding bus.