Picking Your Rapper Name

Last night, my buddy Brian asked me for some strange advice: “Can you help me think of a rapper name? I want to drop my mixtape soon.” If you know me, I don’t really have many friends who drop mixtapes, or call themselves anything other than small variations of their birth names, so this sort of came as a surprise. But hey, when a friend is in need, you don’t turn him away.

I think picking your rapper name is more complicated than, say, choosing your porno name (The age old “middle name + street you were born on” formula never fails. I would be “Wayne Belmont.” Perfect, right?). There are tons of factors to consider, and I’ll try to cover every base, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll do my best to keep this advice simple. So, here are some questions you need to ask yourself when creating your rap name:

What type of rap will you be making?

The genre of rap you make will have a huge impact on the name you choose. For example, if you’re making frat music, you can get away with a name that’s a little too presumptuous. If Mike Stud made, say, trap rap instead, he’d have been shot by now. Similarly, I’m not sure Fat Trel is tearing up the conscious hip hop scene anytime soon (at least I hope not).

Who are your projected audience?

I’m not sure Flo-Rida anticipated this, but now that his songs are used primarily for 50 plusser Zumba classes, his name is perfect. How many almost-grandmas have said, “Wait, Flo…Rida, oh my gosh ladies, do you think this guy is from Florida?!?!”

What’s your ethnicity?

Something tells me that Black Rob would have had some trouble selling his image if he were, you know, not black. The reverse goes for Vanilla Ice. You would wish modern society were past this, but you’ve got to at least consider your skin color.

What’s your actual name?

Some rappers (I really wish my computer would stop auto-correcting to “rapers,” must’ve been from my last article) can simply use their name, like Kendrick Lamar. After he changed his name from K.Dot to use his first and middle name, he was able to embrace his identity as a super-poetic storyteller who’s also one of the most lyrically talented and skilled artists alive (not that I listen to him much, or anything).

Any Nicknames?

I got kind of screwed on this one, because my nickname for my entire life was “Dougie Fresh,” which was already taken. But if you have a killer nickname, there’s no shame in just using that for your rapper name.

What do you look like?

Anyone who uses “Big” in their name has to actually be big. So if you’re heavy, and you go with “Big Something,” don’t hit the treadmill anytime soon because then your rapper name won’t make any sense. On the flip side, once Bow Wow hit his growth spurt he had to drop the “Lil’.” My suggestion would be to avoid any sort of adjective describing your appearance; they’re too hard to live up to.

Taking these all into account, how do I make my name?

Again, the previous questions were just elements to consider. Ultimately, the process is a personal decision that only you can make, but just for fun, let’s try to come up with a rapper name for Brian.

  • Brian’s last name starts with an “S.”
  • He’s had a decent nickname throughout his life, but I don’t think it serves for a rapper name.
  • As much as I think he would hate to admit it,  Brian is very white.
  • He’s neither big nor small, so any adjectives are out.
  • Brian’s projected audience? Well, I’m not positive about his intentions, but I would guess it would be college-aged white people.
  • What type of rap will Brian be making? I would imagine he wants to be lyrically clever, but also funny and sarcastic.

So where does that leave us? Well, here is my suggestion, Brian: “B. Sweat.” Here’s my rationale…

Brian is a reasonably talented singer, his voice isn’t overly growly or aggressive, and he’s not scary looking. So for a genre, I would suggest really dirty sex songs that still let you be clever and lyrical sometimes. It would almost be as if Trey Songz and Drake were both white and joined forces to create B. Sweat. The name works because the first initial gives you a sensual element of mystery, and the “Sweat” creates a powerful, yet kind of nasty message of sex. Furthermore, you get your B.S. initials in there, so it’s still related to your name. Your go to music would be to drop features on other really dirty sex musicians’ songs, like Usher or Ludacris.

In fact Brian, for your mixtape, I suggest you start by covering these songs:

Coming soon, the new mixtape from B. Sweat, Hump Sounds.

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5 thoughts on “Picking Your Rapper Name

  1. You knocked this one outta the park, right onta fahckin’ Lansdowne Street. The only two things I’m not sold on are (1) the potential sampling of “Sex Room,” because it reminds me too much of my stepdad’s house, and (b) the name itself.

    The method is beyond reproach, but my only worry is that I’ll come across too much as a joke with the “Sweat” thing. You could reasonably counter that it IS a joke that an over-privileged white-as-the-driven-snow finance major decides to make a mixtape in the second semester of his senior year, but I could reasonably counter-counter “go suck an egg.”

    [If it helps, I’d say my “inspirations” (i.e. the people I listen to on repeat while I write devastating couplets until I catch myself plagiarizing) are Mssrs Gambino, Songz, and Drake. And while I don’t particularly enjoy Earl Sweatshirt’s music, I do dig on his nonsense name, and all nonsense names]

    Any thoughts? It goes without saying that The Mulch Pile gets first look at these tunes when, you know, I actually make them.

    P.S. Even if I’m not entirely sold on B. Sweat, I AM entirely sold on “Hump Sounds” as my EP title. Fire.

    P.P.S. For the non-CBWest crowd… I don’t have actually have a stepdad. I just have a really rough relationship with my fictional one.

    • Here’s why you keep B. Sweat (I should’ve put this in the post, in hindsight) – When you create your rapper name, you need to be able to reference yourself extremely easily, though shortened versions, alternate names, etc. Think Jay-Z’s “HOV” and Lil’ Wayne’s “Weezy.” With B. Sweat you can call yourself “B,” “Sweat,” or “B.S.” and everyone will still know you’re talking about yourself.

      Consider this gem: “Ladies on that B. Sweat/Gettin’ B.S. Wet” – you can say that like 500 times a song!

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