The term “modern emcee” was coined after this emcee had hit the airwaves back in the mid 80’s. And his name was? This emcee had started what is now known as “conscious rap” by addressing the views of a decaying urban society, while others chose to rap about enjoyable scenarios. And his name was? William Michael Griffin Jr & Melvin Glover are pioneers in hip hop without question; stretching the boundaries of lyrical progression and cadence which we’re still applying into our own works. We identify these contributors by their tags/pseudonyms/emcee names, which were granted by whom: themselves or the hip hop community? Plus, does it matter to have an “emcee name?”
We all had nick names growing up. Some were embarrassing to mention to your homies…we keep that to ourselves. But to your family members, it can encompass a great deal of meaning…historical in some cases. In terms of an emcee name, inspiration could come from anywhere. Many give themselves a pseudonym after their favorite cartoon characters, fictional characters from movies, or material objects…it can happen! Some feel compeled to don the names of notorious crime figures who struck fear in the hearts of many. Others wear the names of social/political beings who empowered the world to act against negative forces, which threaten our livelihood. If all else fails, you can depend on your comrades to christen you with a tag that suits you best.
I was under the impression that it was “law” to have an elder or a mentor in hip hop to grant you a tag to identify and define who you are. You couldn’t call yourself an emcee unless you had an official name from the proper “hip hop authorities”. Or you earned your name from numerous outings in your respected community; being active in a positive or negative manner, in turn, can become a stage name in most cases. It was against the law if you named yourself without the proper authorities’ blessing, liking to being knighted by the monarch of UK and thus having the title “Sir.” You were looked at as a fraud, fake, and a phony if you named yourself something that carried no weight behind it. You were sent to Arsenio Hall to get grilled for being a poser tainting the culture of hip hop. You’ll become the ultimate diss for emcee’s to take shots at. And worse…you’ll be Vanilla Ice (don’t make me explain)!
In Vanilla’s defense, his name, along with Mc Hammer’s, carried a different kind of weight. These names were the brainchild for brands, which were easy for big businesses to profit off many marketing facets. Remember the cereals, backpacks, lunch pails, gummy snacks, Saturday morning cartoons, shoes, shirts, etc.? Fast forward to the current state of hip hop, many rappers would rather have a “tag name” that will generate the most profit without having to worry about showcasing any performance skill, talent, creativity, or interest of entertaining anyone. Nowadays the record business can give you a name with statistics proving that it has a high success rate of earning a great return on investment. You too can own a line of malt liquor or blunt wraps! Please sign here!
I respect my given name in part to having a great deal of respect for my mentors; they identified my skills, talents, and abilities by answering back with my chosen title. Maybe I’m overthinking this a bit too much but I do believe that your name, whether it’s given or not, should at least have some sort of meaning behind it. There are stories about how such & such names came into fruition just by listening to a song on the radio or sitting on the stoop drinking a brew. When you mention the name of a current rapper, do you think about a song that set you back in the annals of your mind, searching for a time where you felt a certain way when you heard it for the first time? Most fans today associate rappers with how many album sales he/she generates in the first week. In my opinion, it scares the hell outta me to know that many “new name rappers” aren’t attached to any memories of today’s rap fans. When you mention Rakim or Grandmaster Melle Mel, you’ll get an onslaught of moments from folks who kept these memories instilled in their mind.
What’s your thoughts on the matter? Happy New Year!
The opinions and views expressed here are the opinions of the designated author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or views of any of the individual members of Dead End Hip Hop.