With members Ghostface Killah and Masta Killa both borrowing from the word "killer" to form their monikers, it's easy to draw the comparison that Killah Priest also was stylistically inspired by the Wu-Tang Clan members' names. Killah Priest was of the same formative era as the collective and quickly became an affiliate of the Wu-Tang Clan in the mid-90s. He appeared on solo albums, Ol' Dirty Bastard's Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version and GZA's Liquid Swords, both of which saw a 1995 release. Of his moniker, Killah Priest has revealed previously that he personally didn't select his name, but that it was given to him by his brothers, which arguably, is the best way to be granted a Wu-Tang-inspired name.
7 Artists With Names Inspired By The Wu-Tang Clan
SZA's stage name, regardless of how you want to slice it, clearly was inspired by RZA and GZA, while also deriving from the Supreme Alphabet. The "S" could stand for savior or sovereign, with the "Z" standing for zig-zag and "A" for Allah. SZA also recently shared with the Breakfast Club that her sister got her hooked on Wu-Tang Clan, as well as revealed that in the early stages of her career, her friends and affiliates teased her for choosing a name so directly inspired by the Wu-Tang Clan, a gesture that invites criticism since she isn't part of the legendary group. However, fast-forward to her working with RZA, and it's safe to say those conversations clowning her have since died down.
Perhaps the most infamous Wu-inspired moniker belongs to Donald Glover. Here's how the story goes, as told in Glover's own words: "We were all hanging out, chilling and drinking and then we were like, 'oh, Wu-Tang name generator, let’s put our name in.' And we’re putting them all in, and they’re all funny and stuff, and then mine came up and I was like, 'you guys, it’s not funny anymore. This is something big.' I just really liked it." While originally divulging how he landed on his moniker with Jimmy Fallon back in 2011, he has since touched on the subject in countless interviews, with many pointing out that the moniker was truly destined due to the fact that there are two Wu-Tang generators available online, with Donald Glover's name bringing up the same result at both sites (something that trial and error proved not every name yields). Although Glover has recently revealed that he is planning on retiring the moniker Childish Gambino after his next album, it's safe to say the music he made under the Wu-Tang inspired name has helped solidify his own legacy as a multitalented artist.
Smoke DZA has spoken on his name several times throughout the past, and while he hasn't specifically shouted out the Wu-Tang Clan as an influence for his moniker, the acronym definitely is connected to Wu members RZA and GZA by default. Of his stage name, Smoke DZA shares that the "Smoke" comes from the film Friday, citing that he was influenced by the character Smokey (Chris Tucker). "It was actually Smoke Dog and the ‘Dog’ turned into DZA from ‘for shizzle my nizzle,'" he shared with ThisIs50.com back in 2012. "That shit just stuck with me. The acronym we’ve got for DZA is Dream Zone Achieve. I thought about that shit like four or five years ago." The name change stuck, with Smoke DZA's latest studio effort, a collaboration with Pete Rock titled Don't Smoke Rock, arriving in 2016.
Part of the charm behind Wu-Tang's branding lies in the fact that each member had a plethora of alternative monikers and nicknames. Two of Ol' Dirty Bastard's alternate names were Sweet Baby Jesus and Big Baby Jesus. While the late legend had over two dozen nicknames, these two serve as a direct correlation to North Carolina rapper Baby Jesus. While the upstart has since rebranded to simply be known as Da Baby, one could make a case for the fact that his first moniker originally drew inspiration from the Wu-Tang member.
Johnny Haze is a rapper from Connecticut whose moniker is awfully familiar. Considering one of Method Man's many nicknames is Johnny Blaze, it doesn't take much effort to put two and two together that Johnny Haze was paying a subtle homage to Meth when he selected his stage name. While the underground artist hasn't formally touched on the inspiration behind his name in any interviews to date, it's without a doubt a clear nod to Wu-Tang.
Wu-Tang member U-God arrived at his most recognized and current moniker after formerly going by the name Golden Arms. The Wu-Tang member decided to shorten his main alias to U-God, with the moniker originally taking on the longer form of his Five-Percent Nation righteous name, Universal God Allah. While rising rapper Ugly God hasn't officially credited U-God as a form of inspiration, he has previously explained that he chose to change his name from his original choice, Pussy Bacon, in an attempt to be a "bit more marketable." Sounds like taking a note out of Wu-Tang's book to us.
The Wu-Tang Clan has long been celebrated for its branding. As a result, some artists have understandably turned to the legendary group for inspiration to land on their own stage names.
As many hip-hop fans can attest, it's difficult not to respect the Wu-Tang Clan from all angles. From their melodies to their marketing, there are plenty of lessons neatly tucked into their storied history and celebrated discography. Throughout the past two decades and change, much ink has been spilled over their influence in hip-hop and popular culture at large.
During such conversations, the Wu's branding is often touched upon, inviting the opportunity to dive deep into how their logo has become arguably one of the most iconic and easily recognizable symbols of all time (just count the tattoos). It wasn't by accident that the group's individual monikers and collective name have helped propel them to the legendary status they are happily poised on today. With that, of course, comes the tempting nature to borrow from their rule book and apply it to one's own artistry. Not everyone, save for GZA, can be granted their rap name by the likes of RZA himself, after all.
In fact, the influence behind Wu-Tang Clan's name was so undeniable, it essentially begged the Internet to create a name generator, one that, naturally, went viral roughly five years ago. Whether you're an inspiring rapper or just a die-hard fan, throwing your name in the machine and letting the Internet decide your fate is a sage decision that none other than Donald Glover made when playing with ideas for his own artist moniker.
While the artist now fondly known as Childish Gambino took a curiously straightforward approach to land on his music name, others, such as SZA, have chosen to pay a more direct homage to members RZA and GZA in tribute, despite admitting her fans clowned her for years for such a decision. Luckily, in SZA's case, such a choice has since proven to work in her favor, with her talents just as able to garner the prominent Wu leader's attention and more importantly his respect, with RZA himself announcing the release date of her debut record, CTRL, earlier this year.
While we trust the future of hip-hop will give birth to more artists looking to the Wu-Tang Clan to catch inspiration for their monikers, check out the story behind some of those respectfully nodding to the group.