No Country for Old (Rap) Men: A Biter, By Any Other Name

Robbie of Unkut is not down with ripped-off rap stage names. Take note.

Posted By Robbie Ettelson |

One thing that really gets my goat is dudes who take another rap name in vain. There are countless possibilities for your rap nom d’plume, so why do you expect to be able to go and rip-off the stage name of an established legend without any repercussions?

Take for example the case of Young Guru, the engineer, DJ and producer who has worked with Jay-Z for years. This guy came-up in the mid-90s, so was undoubtably familiar with the work of Gang Starr and GURU, yet he thought it was appropriate to adopt virtually the same moniker? While he claims that he acquired the name from his work teaching African history classes at the local community center, Keith Elam made it clear that he didn’t appreciate the similarity when he recorded Step In The Arena Pt. 2 with Doo Wop. “There’s a certain sucker, imposter, rocking your name/It’s kind of lame, it’s kind of strange,” mentioned Doo Wop. “Engineer that ass back to ASCAP dawg,” he added, before GURU asked, “Does this idiot here, have any idea/of how many mics I’ve touched in my illustrious career?” Following GURU’s tragic death, it would have been nice if this character would have had the decency to adjust his name as a sign of respect for everything that Gang Starr brought to the game. But of course there wasn’t a thing said…

Another example involved Kool DJ Red Alert’s son, who decided to call himself Kool G Mims, which I took exception to and called him out on Unkut.com on the matter. He responded that no disrespect was intended toward the legendary Kool G Rap, and that he had combined the “Kool” from his father and the “G” part was simply an abbreviation of his government name “George.” Logical enough, but still not a valid excuse in my book to compare yourself to a veteran like KGR.

Only this week I noticed that an MC by the name of Tragedy Tha Beast was releasing music, prompting me to question his choice of rap name on Twitter. Once he caught wind of this, he challenged me to “put him into contact” with Tragedy Khadafi to sort it out, before claiming, “I’m an AVID student of this Hip Hop culture my dude. Before I picked the name (which was about 7 yrs ago) I didn’t know of him… I educated myself to his contributions to rap. I’m well aware of who he is NOW.” This is the whole problem – he admitted that he didn’t know of the legacy of Tragedy Khadafi when he started, but the fact that he does now is even more reason to change his name! What’s next? A dude born Kris Richard Stevenson the 2nd dropping an album as “KRS-TWO”? Stop violating…

Keep up with Robbie’s weekly No Country for Old (Rap) Men column here.

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