Names are symbols of significance. Whether they're given or self-made, those labels often double as statements of who someone is and what they embody. In the case of rappers, the gangster ties are never far removed. In fact, some of their monikers draw inspiration from notorious criminals.
Nas has had more than a few alias' over the course of his illustrious career. Particularly, Nas Escobar, which was debuted as a label on Mobb Deep’s 1995 classic The Infamous. The name came from Nas’ fascination with Pablo Escobar, a Colombian drug lord and billionaire who reigned in the second half of the twentieth century.
Before N.O.R.E. secured one of the best hip-hop podcasts on the planet with Drink Champs, he came into the game as a highly respected rapper alongside his brethren Capone. Back in the mid-90s, the duo named themselves Capone-N-Noreaga. Well, the inspiration came from Al Capone—a high-profile bootlegger and American crime boss from 1900s—and Manuel Noriega—a Panamanian ruler and drug trafficker who rose to prominence in the 1980s.
Lastly, Yo Gotti’s tag comes from an American gangster gamed John Gotti, who’s widely known as having one the most powerful crime syndicates in late 1990s. The impact from that has been immense in the hip-hop world. Additionally and on that note, while he isn’t necessarily a rapper, Murder Inc.’s head honcho Irv Gotti also got his name from John's reign of being a famed villain and mafia leader.
Over the last few decades, there are at least 15 spitters that got their names from popularized crime figures. So today, looking at additional examples like Chief Keef, Rick Ross and 50 Cent, XXL spotlights the hip-hop artists that use their handles as an extension of gangster love. Check them out below.