If it ain't broken, don't fix it. Unless you're a millionaire musician with a megasuccessful career. And then fuck it, change your name completely.
We're pretty sure that's how the old adage goes, and that's what you'd be led to believe by Crossfade's little list of moniker madness.
When an artist suddenly changes their name, they'd have you believe it's for artistic reasons. But mostly, it's just a symptom of inner turmoil and identity crisis. Plus, a midcareer name-change almost never bodes well for that next album.
For the sake of Snoop
Doggy Dogg Lion, what were these seven name-changing musicians thinking?
Snoop Doggy Dogg - Snoop Lion
"I've always thought I was Bob Marley reincarnated" was the first sign Snoop Dogg had gone over the deep-end. The rapper went on vacation to Jamaica and came out a spiritually-transformed marijuana guru. He's a much bigger animal now. A Snoop Lion, in fact. And he's switching his focus to reggae. We're not really sure it's going to work, but the new song with Major Lazer is alright.
Lily Allen - Lily Rose Cooper
The none-too-innocent British songstress is back in the studio, but you won't hear any more Lily Allen records. That's because she recently got married. And against all reason, she's changing her stage name to reflect her legally wed status. We hope she's really in love, because a name-change after a three-year hiatus doesn't sound like a recipe for success.
Puff Daddy - P. Diddy - Diddy
Biggie's bestie is famous for awesome parties, being totally loaded, and changing his name a million times. Oh, and making hip-hop beats back in the '90s. He changed his name twice in the early 2000s, perhaps as an attempt to stay relevant in an ever-evolving rap game with a growing focus on Southern styles he can't replicate. Everyone pretty much just laughed about it, but it hasn't stopped him from being the richest man in hip-hop. You just can't kill the Daddy's swag.
Prince - "The Love Symbol," AKA The Artist Formerly Known as Prince
But a name can ruin an icon, especially when the name is unpronounceable. Prince will always be the king of '80s grooves, but his career took a swan dive after he became a symbol. "The Artist Formerly Known As" isn't exactly what the man had in mind, but it was the only way to keep him in the conversation, even if people only wanted to talk about his goofy new name. Maybe he changed it to get out of an obnoxious publishing contract, because he went back to Prince as soon as it expired.
Mos Def - Yasiin Bey
Earlier this year, the rapper and actor known to hip-hop heads as Mos Def dropped his legendary moniker in favor of Yasiin Bey. It's his way of expanding himself, personally and artistically, i.e., he's almost 40 and he's probably freaking out. We just hope this opens things up for an album titled Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey are Black Star.
Cat Stevens - Yusuf Islam
Mos Def isn't the first artist to throw away an iconic name for a new moniker inspired by the Middle East. Cat Stevens was an English folk hero until he became a fan of the Quran and transformed himself into Yusuf Islam. Now, the triple-platinum superstar can't even get on a plane. The first cut is the deepest, and your original stage name is the only one this fickle world will ever recognize.
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Tom Gabel - Laura Jane Grace
While most famous people change their names for no sensible reason other than they're totally losing themselves, the punk rocker formerly known as Tom Gabel became Laura Jane Grace for the total opposite reason. She was finding herself. Laura was in there the whole time, and we applaud the Against Me! singer for keeping it real.