So, apparently, one of hip hop’s most recognizable artists has changed his name. Yes, “Snoop Dogg” is now “Snoop Lion” The legendary emcee is reportedly done with hip hop and openly embracing reggae as home for his musical talents. Of course, it’s very easy to make fun of this as we have done with some of the other pop culture name changes. But Snoop insists that this is “the elevation” of his persona and points to his journey to a Jamaican Rastafarian temple as his inspiration for the upgrade. He even said, “I wanna bury Snoop Dogg.” Interesting.
With much less mainstream media attention and no press conference announcement, Reach Records artist PRo changed his name as well. Now he prefers to go by part of his government name, Derek Minor. He is not the first in our genre to make the switch. Other notable changes include C-Lite to Andy Mineo, Katalyst to Kareem Manuel, Brothatone to Tony Tillman, Conviction to Chad Jones and others. Initially, we fans become frustrated that we’ll have to change our iTunes catalog names and constantly correct our verbal slip-ups. But maybe there are some blessings to this.
While not every name change carries a spiritual meaning, I do believe there is encouraging symbolism to be seen. How are stage names born? Typically, they are either given by an outside observer who has seen a pattern of behavior, or they are a proclamation of whatever the artist wants you to believe about his life or skills. When the audience perceives you to be whatever you tell them, there’s no need to be honest and authentic with your music. There’s no need to motivate the listener to change in any way. Why bother with that when you can be whoever you want to be?
So, Snoop Dogg “upgrades” his persona by just creating a new artificial identity to hide behind. To him, this is “elevation” but that perceived growth is basically just putting on a fancier mask. PRo upgraded instead by losing the artificial title he originally hid behind in favor of just being himself. There will be no difference between the stage, home and the grocery store. While the mainstream buries one mask of perception in favor of another, I am thankful that we have artists willing to forsake all the masks they could so easily hide behind. Instead of getting annoyed, I will pray that the simplicity of changing a stage name is a sign of more transparent art on the horizon. And that maybe, just maybe, we won’t have to hide behind anything anymore.