What’s In a Name?

What’s In a Name?

They say you only get one chance at a first impression. For rappers, that can be as fleeting as their name being seen on a flier or heard in a passing conversation. An emcee’s name (whether earned or self-proclaimed) can garner attention or render them forgettable, and it typically speaks volumes about their persona as an artist. The stories behind the titles are often alluded to in their raps, but rarely do we get the full explanation. We made note of some of CO’s most intriguing rap names, and asked the emcees to explain them in their own words. What we got were stories of hilarity, graff, resilience, power, and more. Check out our favorite 10 below, in no particular order:


1. Catch Lungs – Catch Lungs comes from a name I made up for myself in high school. I lived in a pretty small town in Colorado and I was slangin’ maaaad trees. I had the connect from Cali for 6 different flavors of all organic banger tree. Basically I felt like I didn’t have to look for smokers, but instead they were looking for me. I felt like I would “Catch Lungs” like they were falling from the sky into my hands. That’s the birth of the name Catch Lungs!

2. Mane RokI started in Hip-Hop as a graff writer. Trends for writers were 4 letter names, still is on average. During this time in life, there was a shampoo that was all the rage (I know because ma dukes had it.) It was called “Mane & Tail.” One day, while chucking deuces at ‘em, I was sitting there, thinking of a name to write. “Mane” stuck out to me. Because writers add the whole One thing to their names as well, Mane One was money. As evolution happened on the emcee side of things Mane Rok just sounded better. And here we are.

3. Url Gravy – I used to be called bonanza and I wanted to change it. This was around 2000. Y2k and the whole internet was booming, URLs where all the rage. I wanted a name that was poignant and funny. Gravy is synonymous with goodness so URL Gravy was born; computer age goodness.


4. LadySpeech – When I was younger everyone told me that some of the things I did weren’t lady like. I took on the Lady in an effort to define my woman hood and my status as a lady. I grew up in an extremely abusive household. I almost died several times because of abuse. I didn’t heal and get free from all that until I found my voice and began to speak. Silence kills. So I named myself LadySpeech and vowed to never be quiet again.


5. Ill SevenThe name L7 was a joke at first because I listened to back pack rap as a kid when everyone was listening to gangster rap. When I started wining battles they started calling me iLL se7en. As I started learning more about my spiritual side ILL became “Illuminated,” and 7 stood for God in my life. So it started as one thing and evolved into another.


6. Rebel Minority – The name Rebel Minority is a combination of ideals, lifestyle, and how I not only view myself, but how I feel the world views me. Wanting a name that stood out and spoke for itself, I felt Rebel Minority combined my interest, ideology and style. As a black male in America I am already a minority, never one to shy away from controversial topics and possessing a strong disdain for injustice the name felt appropriate. This is not only present in my music but also in the way I was raised, as well as how I conduct myself as a human being. Rebel Minority a.k.a. Abstract a.k.a. Mankore.


7. Opt WonOpt Won is short for Optimus Pryhme also Opt Won the audiobot. I was in my early twenties, me and ILL 7 had been in a recording session all day. I don’t even remember who it was, but a kid who was there said my voice sounded like metal. Then he said like a robot. At first I didn’t get it at all then he said, “You know, like transformers. Optimus Prime.” I don’t even remember what MC name I had at the time but I dropped that shit quick. I just thought it was the illest name, people just started calling me Opt for short. A lot of Graff writers always put 1 next to their name, or block number or address numbers next to their name. I wanted to do something like that but different so I used won. I Won the battle, the fight, the war. Opt Won the audiobot super hero, that’s my name wear it out.


8. Broken I got my name when I used to battle rap growing up in high school. I was young and would throw that word around over and over again in ciphers. At that time I was still writing graffiti and started to throw it up everywhere too, the letters were easy and flush. Coming from a broken home and getting the feeling of always trying to put everything back together, from music to life…it just clicked. I would take sounds like drum breaks and melodies, also poetry, and break them apart then put them back together with my own twist, so it made even more sense to be called “Broken.”


9. ChampionSoundKillaBlackI have West Indian roots. My family on my mom’s side is Guyanese (Guyana). Reggae has always been a large influence in my music background. That said there are certain patois sayings that are universal, one of those being “champion sound.” It basically means if I’m a DJ my sound system is the shit or an emcee (to a lesser extent) my sound is the shit. Kinda reads how its written. It’s stuntin’ island style. When I was younger my uncle Girvis Gilbert had a DJ click back in Brooklyn and he called himself DJ Reble Tone. My cousin Kirk (his son) and I would fuck wit his tables and his mixer and sound effects shit when he was gone. Sometimes he’d let lil’ niggas on when he’d have a party at my aunt D’s. We’d write our own lyrics and emcee, stuff like that. One of my first reggae lyrics said “lik ohwt bahd bwoy front teeth wit a hammer… fi brag boht him champion sound but I ahn I di sound killa.” “Sound killa” again is implicit. I messed wit a few ideas for a rap name, but I could never settle on one that felt right because I actually think rap names are dumb. But I was too p*ssy to go with my gubment. People can barely pronounce that. I thought about just going with O but I hated that too. Closest I got though was Champion O’Brian’L (my middle name bookended by my first and last intial) when I was with a group called O2P. Cats would always give me shit because of the length so everybody called me Champ from there out. I hated the O’Brian’L part really, so eventually I dropped it. So basically my name is more of a statement; to the cat that thinks his sound is dope (champion) let alone the nigga whose sound actually is champion, that I am the Champion Sound Killa. Black just describes what I am in skin tone.


10. SP DoubleI started out as a graffiti writer. Given the name “Speed,” when I got serious with rhyming I started entering battles/cyphers and people expected a “Bone Thugs/Twista” type of emcee based off of my name . It didn’t fit my style, so I flipped it to SP Double (short for SP double E-D).

Read original article at HipHopRollCall here.

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