Mos Def and 5 More Music Stars Who Changed Their Names

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Mos Def made headlines this week after announcing that he would be changing his well-known moniker to Yasiir in 2012.

While Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and countless other artists have used a professional pseudonym, Mos joins a long list of celebrities who have altered their famous alias’ over the course of their career.

Puff Daddy to Diddy: Born Sean Combs, Puff Daddy or Puffy rose to fame in the early ‘90s. Following an acquittal on gun possession and bribery charges, Puffy Daddy altered his stage name to P.Diddy in an effort to reinvent his image.  To further complicate matters, Combs dropped the “P.” from his stage name in 2005, referring to himself only as Diddy.

Cat Stevens to Yusuf Islam: English musician Steven Demetre Georgiou is best known by his previous stage name, Cat Stevens, which he adopted in the ‘60s. With the change, Stevens hoped to give fans a catchier, memorable name to associate his music with. After converting to Islam in 1978, the artist changed his name to Yusuf Islam and subsequently left his musical career behind.

Prince to Love Symbol: In what could be the most famous name change of the century, Prince defied contractual obligations by changing his stage name to an unpronounceable character dubbed “Love Symbol.” Referred to as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” in the ‘90s, Prince Rogers Nelson returned to his given surname in 2000 after his Warner/Chappell contract had expired.

Lil Bow Wow to Bow Wow: While Lil Wayne continues to shatter records under his anonym; many other hip-hop artists have opted to drop the prefix from their youth-based nicknames. Lil Bow Wow successfully made the transition to simply Bow Wow with his 2003 release, Unleashed. The formerly pint-sized rapper also embarked on an acting career as part of his new grown-up persona. Less notably, Lil Romeo, Lil Malik, Baby Cham, Lil Zane, Lil Fizz and Young Jeezy have all opted to ditch their baby names.

Diamond Darrell to Dimebag Darrell: The late guitarist known as Dimebag Darrell founded the group Pantera under the name Diamond Darrell. Born Darrell Lance Abbott, the heavy metal star switched up his nickname during the band’s reinvention with their fifth release, Cowboys From Hell, in 1990.

Mos Def to Yasiir: Mos Def gave the world advance notice that he will be changing his stage name to Yasiir in 2012. The hip-hop-artist-turned-actor explained to MTV, “Mos Def is the name that I built and cultivated over the years.  It’s the name that the streets taught me -- A figure of speech that was given to me by the culture and by my environment.” The new name, which is Arabic for “rich” or “one who goes against the tide,” signifies Dante Terrell Smith’s need to “expand and move on.”

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