21 Savage performs at the Sahara Tent at 2022 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival; Wiz Khalifa performs live on stage in concert at the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk; Nicki Minaj performs onstage at Hot 107.9 Birthday Bash: Pop Up Edition at Philips Arena on June 17, 2017.
Source: Getty Images

Here Are the Hidden Meanings Behind Some of Your Favorite Rappers' Monikers

From Wiz Khalifa to 21 Savage, many of your favorite rappers have hidden meanings behind their stage names that might surprise you. Read on for more!


Nov. 16 2023, Published 9:40 p.m. ET

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The hip-hop movement has largely been shaped by rappers and their fascinating monikers. These stage names allow artists to embody well-liked personas both on- and off-stage.

But beyond the glitz and glamor of the stage, these names often carry hidden meaning and significance. They have served as intentional representations of the artist's identity, experiences, and ambitions.

Below is a list of rappers whose stage names are symbolic.

21 Savage

21 Savage's name may sound like a random numerical combination that was thrown together, but it holds more weight than that. The Atlanta-based rapper adopted the number 21 because he was shot at six times on his 21st birthday and survived the incident.

Sadly, one of his friends who was with him at the scene did not make it.

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Jay-Z attends 2020 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH on January 25, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Source: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation

Outside of hip-hop, Jay-Z is one of the most celebrated names in the world. You may not have known that his stage name's origin has a heartwarming background.

The Brooklyn native, who has become synonymous with success, power, and Black excellence, kicked off his music career with the name Jazzy but later adopted the name Jay-Z after gleaning inspiration from his former mentor, Jaz-O, who is also a New York rapper.

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Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj is known for spitting rhymes and churning out new alter egos. But long before she became a hip-hop icon, she had other ideas in mind as to what her stage name should be — that is until someone on her team pushed her to change it.

“Somebody changed my name,” the "Last Time I Saw You" rapper told The Guardian in 2012. “One of the first production deals I signed, the guy wanted my name to be Minaj and I fought him tooth and nail. But he convinced me. I’ve always hated it.”

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Wiz Khalifa

Wiz Khalifa performs onstage during the "RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR" wearing a leather jacket and jewelry.
Source: Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood

Wiz Khalifa garnered a loyal fan base because of his laid-back personality and uber-successful songs like "Say Yeah," "Black and Yellow," and "See You Again."

Born Cameron Jibril Thomaz, the rapper once shared the true meaning of his famous stage name with MTV, stating that when he was younger, he was good at doing everything, so people called him a young wiz. After that, it stuck. He added that the name Khalifa was given to him by his grandfather, who died in late 2023.

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A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky, whose full name is Rakim Mayers, is known for his stylish outfits and fashion acumen.

What's the meaning behind his name, you ask? Here's a breakdown.

"A$AP" stands for "always strive and prosper," a slogan that he and the rest of the A$AP Mob use. The New York native's nickname, Rocky, was given to him by his mom.

Many fans may not know this, but according to reports, A$AP Rocky and his sister, Erika B. Mayers, are named after the iconic hip-hop duo Eric B. & Rakim.

The author’s content and opinions have not been pre-reviewed, approved or endorsed by Discover.

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