Celebrities Who Have Changed Their Names and Why

A name change for a celebrity could either make or break their career. For some it’s allowed them to soar to new heights, for others, it’s derailed them. In some cases it seems people don’t care and continue to call you what they’re used to. Kanye West is going to find out soon which group he falls into as he’s recently revealed that he’s officially changed his name to Ye.

West was born Kanye Omari West. Throughout his over 20 years in the spotlight, he has been known by name nicknames. From the earlier ones like The Louis Vuitton Don and Mr. H to the Izzo, up to more recent ones like Yeezy, Yeezus, and of course Ye. Ye was also the title of his 2018 album.
Kanye tweeted about a possible name change back in 2018 following the album’s release. “The being formally known as Kanye West. I am YE,” he told fans.

While it has been a common nickname for him for a long time now, he revealed that his affinity for the name has to do with its appearance in the Bible as well. “I believe ‘YE’ is the most commonly used word in the Bible. In the Bible it means you. So I’m you. And I’m us. It’s us. It went from being Kanye, which means the only one to just Ye, just being a reflection of our good, our bad, our confused. Everything. It’s more of a reflection of who we are [as] beings.” It was confirmed that he officially received the approval this week, so his name is now legally Ye.

While Kanye West is looking to shed a name, Kim Kardashian-West is looking to keep hers. His former wife took on his last name after they married on May 24, 2014. The pair share four children together. Kim also uses the name in several of her businesses, including KKW Beauty which she launched in 2017. The decision to keep the last name makes sense from a branding standpoint, and also to not alienate her kids, who are all West. She reportedly supports Kanye’s choices and continues to stand by his side despite their separation.

Kanye West’s name change probably reminds a lot of people of another famous hip-hop mogul. Sean Combs invented the name change it seems. Puff Daddy became P. Diddy in the early ’00s, before dropping the P and just becoming Diddy. In recent years he made the push for a completely different name following the death of his long-time partner Kim Porter. Combs legally changed his name to Love, posting a photo of his Florida ID back in May to prove it. He’s maintained a pretty low profile in recent years, so many haven’t had to publicly acknowledge the name change. We’ll just have to wait and see how people address him during his next project.

Prior to Love and Ye, Prince was asking the world to call him by a different name after already becoming a star. During the ’90s, while embroiled in a legal battle with Warner Music over his name and likeness, Prince opted to have no name at all. Instead, he adopted a symbol that nobody could pronounce. This resulted in people referring to him as “The Artist Formally Know as Prince” for a while.

Dwayne Johnson is another one who successfully made a name change after becoming a megastar, even though it felt like it took decades for it to stick. He was initially introduced to the world as The Rock during his time as a world-famous wrestler. As he began to dabble in films, it went from The Rock to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Johnson is now one of the biggest film stars on the planet, and while some still call his The Rock, the marquees officially read Dwayne Johnson at the movie theater.

About John Davidson

John Davidson is a California native who enjoys hip hop music, skiing and traveling international. Davidson graduated from USC majoring in Journalism.

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