Rihanna attends The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Source: Getty Images

Some of Your Favorite Artists Real Names — Mind Blowing Monikers

Artists are generally mysterious, but fans can be even more shocked by their real names. Here are some artists whose real names still shock us.


Aug. 17 2023, Published 11:25 a.m. ET

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In a world where stage names often become synonymous with our favorite musicians and celebrities, the real identities behind these catchy aliases can sometimes get hidden in the spotlight. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised as we reveal the real names of some of the most iconic Black artists who've been captivating us for years. From soulful crooners to lyrical maestros, the hidden government names behind these stars might just leave you speechless.


SZA presents the Best Música Urbana Album award during the 65th GRAMMY Awards
Source: Getty Images

Before becoming SZA, the husky-voiced R&B artist was born Solána Imani Rowe. Although her birth name complements her music's ethereal and heartfelt essence, she adopted the moniker SZA, drawing inspiration from the Supreme Alphabet by the Five-Percent Nation, an Islam-influenced Black nationalist movement. In an interview with Genius, she reflected on her stage name, sharing: "It just kinda like stumbled on me, 'cause my name is Solána... People called me Sos for short, which comes from Sosa."


Still shot of Kaliii performing at the BET Awards 2023
Source: Getty Images

Kaliii, born Kaliya Ashley Ross, has etched her name into the sonic landscapes of modern rap. Hailing from the vibrant hub of Roswell, Georgia, Kaliya, known by the stage monikers "Kaliii" and "Kali," has forged a path that's as bold as it is carefree, garnering a growing fan base and headlines along the way. At a mere 12 years old, a young Kaliya embarked on a journey into hip-hop artistry, and the rest is history. Kaliii recently stylized her name as Kaliii earlier this year to phonetically match how she pronounces her name in her songs.

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Celebrities whose government names you have probably heard before reading this article.

Nicki Minaj: The beloved rap icon and matriarch of the Barbz fandom, Nicki Minaj, boasts a name that's as edgy as her flow: Onika Tanya Maraj.

LL Cool J: The rap sensation's true name is James Todd Smith, a name as timeless as his most unforgettable chart-toppers.

Rihanna: While her fervent fan base probably knows this already, it's worth noting that the songbird's complete moniker is none other than Robyn Rihanna Fenty.

Still shot of Rihanna at The Met Gala
Source: Getty Images
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Celebrities whose real names are a no-brainer

Beyoncé - Beyoncé Knowles- Carter

Kendrick Lamar - Kendrick Lamar Duckworth

John Legend - John Roger Stephens

Janelle Monáe - Janelle Monáe Robinson

Usher - Usher Raymond IV

Solange - Solange Piaget Knowles

Jhené Aiko - Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo

Ella Mai - Ella Mai Howell

Kehlani - Kehlani Ashley Parrish

Ty Dolla $ign - Tyrone William Griffin Jr.

Alicia Keys - Alicia Augello Cook

Tobe Nwigwe - Tobechukwu Bethel Nwigwe

Victoria Monét - Victoria Monét McCants

Still shot of Usher performing
Source: Getty Images
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Artists whose government names were unexpected

Bruno Mars - Peter Gene Hernandez

Lizzo - Melissa Viviane Jefferson

The Weeknd - Abel Makkonen Tesfaye

Frank Ocean - Christopher Edwin Breaux

H.E.R. - Gabriella Wilson

Miguel - Miguel Jontel Pimentel

Anderson .Paak - Brandon Paak Anderson

Childish Gambino - Donald McKinley Glover

Lil Nas X - Montero Lamar Hill

Chance the Rapper - Chancelor Jonathan Bennett

Wizkid - Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun

Wizkid performs onstage during day 3 of the 2023 ESSENCE Festival
Source: Getty Images

Artists whose names are intriguing

Burna Boy - Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu

J. Cole - Jermaine Lamarr Cole

Megan Thee Stallion - Megan Jovon Ruth Pete

Khalid - Khalid Donnel Robinson

Normani - Normani Kordei Hamilton

Trey Songz - Tremaine Aldon Neverson

Hozier - Andrew John Hozier-Byrne

Jidenna - Jidenna Theodore Mobisson

Rico Nasty - Maria-Cecilia Simone Kelly

Snoh Aalegra - Shahrzad Fooladi

Tank - Durrell Artaze Babbs

Swae Lee - Khalif Malik Ibn Shaman Brown

Smino - Christopher Smith Jr.

Masego - Micah Davis

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

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