9 Celebrities Who Changed Their Stage Names

by Kadeen Griffiths

It may be hard to believe now, but there was a time when Lil' Bow Wow and Lil' Romeo were the two biggest child rap stars in the game and certain fans would fight over who was better as often as they would fight over the subtle differences between N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. Bow Wow, as he's now known, proved to be the child rapper with the most lasting power, although his fame has never reached the point it was at back in his "Take Ya Home" days. Now, Bow Wow is changing his stage name to Shad Moss — a.k.a. his actual birth name — and fans are losing their minds.

"Bow Wow is about to get cyber bullied like never before," joked one Twitter user as news of Bow Wow's name change began trending in the United States. "If Bow Wow is gonna change anything, it should be his attempt to stay famous/relevant," said another disparagingly. While it's true that Bow Wow has hardly been in the public eye enough for people to really care what he wants to call himself, the fact of the matter is that he's definitely got people talking about him more now than he has in years.

Bow Wow revealed the news in an Instagram video in which he claimed, "Bow Wow does not fit who I am today. I'm a father, business man, TV host, actor, and rapper! Time for Mr. Moss to take over!" His Instagram name remains Bow Wow at this point, however, probably until the news has had time to sink in. Bow Wow — now Shad Moss — is far from the first artist to change his stage name and receive positive or negative attention for it. In fact, he's just the most recent.

Snoop Lion

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Previously Known As: Snoopy Doggy Dogg and Snoop Dogg.

Reaction: When Snoop Lion announced this stage name change in 2012, he was pretty much widely ridiculed. There's even a meme of Snoop Dogg's face superimposed onto Simba's from The Lion King. The sudden conversion to the Rastafarian movement and the reggae album didn't help.

Result: Snoop Lion has returned to being known as Snoop Dogg. Thank goodness.

P. Diddy

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Previously Known As: Puff Daddy.

Reaction: By 2011, Puff Daddy had been asked to be called so many things (Puff Daddy, Puff, Puffy) that no one even batted an eyelash over his desire to now be called P. Diddy. No one could hate P. Diddy's stage name more than, apparently, P. Diddy.

Result: After changing his name one more time to simply Diddy, P. Diddy has decided to return to being called Puff Daddy. For now.

Panic at the Disco

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Previously Known As: Panic! at the Disco.

Reaction: Who knew punctuation could be so important? When the release of their second album Pretty. Odd. led to Panic at the Disco dropping the exclamation point from their band name, people held Internet eulogies for it.

Result: After losing members Ryan Ross and Jon Walker, Panic! at the Disco put the exclamation point back in their name, to everyone's relief.

Dwayne Johnson

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Previously Known As: The Rock.

Reaction: It can be hard to be taken seriously as an actor when people still think of your wrestling persona, so when The Rock decided he wanted to be called Dwayne Johnson no one had to really ask him why.

Result: Under Dwayne Johnson, The Rock has become quite the hit-or-miss box office draw. A rousing success, really, considering his origins.


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Previously Known As: Aubrey Graham.

Reaction: Drake's career began in the acting world where, under his birth name Aubrey Graham, he starred on a Candian show called Degrassi. Many Degrassi fans resisted referring to him as Drake when he came to America to be a rapper, but Americans embraced it.

Result: Do I even need to say it? YOLO.

Jay Z

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Previously Known As: Jay-Z.

Reaction: In 2013, Jay Z decided to remove the hyphen from his name, even sending out letters to various publications to warn them that this was a thing. One publication responded by writing an obituary to Jay Z's hyphen.

Result: He's still Jay Z and it still continues not to matter what Mr. Beyoncé wants to call himself.

Katy Perry

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Previously Known As: Katy Hudson.

Reaction: Katy Perry's first album was a self-titled Christian rock album released under the name Katy Hudson. When she changed her name to Katy Perry to avoid confusion with Kate Hudson and released One of the Boys in 2008, she skyrocketed to superstardom.

Result: Perry is in a position to offer to write Hillary Clinton's campaign theme song, which says it all.


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Previously Known As: Ke$ha.

Reaction: Ke-dollar sign-Ha got a lot of jokes out of her original stage name, but when she left rehab in 2014 she decided to go by her birth name Kesha (no dollar sign). The Internet, surprisingly, allowed it.

Result: She's changed her Twitter handle to @KeshaRose and shows no signs of wanting to backtrack. Another success. Hopefully Bow Wow's name change will go as well as hers.