Lists

The five biggest hip-hop name changes

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5. B.o.B (Bobby Ray) In 2009, B.o.B announced that he was changing his name to Bobby Ray, pitting his two identities against each other on the mixtape B.o.B vs. Bobby Ray, saying, "I wanted to break away from that and not box myself in. Bobby Ray isn't a character -- he's really me." For a while, it seemed as if Bobby Ray might win the day with his debut album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray topping the charts from the get-go. Apparently, B.o.B couldn't stand being really him for very long, because by this year's release of Strange Clouds, he had gone back to B.o.B.

4. Killer Mike (Mike Bigga) Apparently, in 2009, when Killer Mike announced that he would change his name to Mike Bigga, he had been considering the change for a while, believing that the "killer" part of his name was little too hardcore for mainstream America, saying, "You can't get corporate sponsorship with that." Mike still tentatively claims the Bigga surname, but, interestingly, has never put it on any of his album covers. Apparently he doesn't like it that much, either. Well, he never got his corporate sponsorship, but he did put out a killer album this year in R.A.P. Music.

3. 2Pac (Makaveli) In 1995, 2Pac was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to prison. While incarcerated, he studied political philosophy, most notably Sun Tzu's The Art of War and Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince. When 2Pac was released pending an appeal after serving almost a year of his eighteen month sentence, thanks to Suge Knight putting up $1.4 million in bail, and after releasing All Eyez On Me, he officially changed his recording name to Makaveli for Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. Rebranding an already popular artist is a difficult task, as this list demonstrates, but the second best selling hip-hop artist ever? Seems almost impossible. If anybody could have done it, though, it was 2Pac. Unfortunately, we never got the chance to see him do it. He was killed before the album was released. Bonus fact: Niccolò Machiavelli wrote about faking his own death to fool his enemies, which is the primary reason some still think 2Pac is alive.

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Noah Hubbell