Why Do We Name Our Children After Certain Rappers and Not Others?

Rapper names tend to follow the hype cycle.

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Complex Original

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There is an estimated total of 703 Kanyes currently breathing in the United States. There are about 1,444 Raekwons. We know there is at least one baby named Future. After a cursory look at Wolfram Alpha's birth name statistics, you begin to notice a trend. Parents, for lack of a better word, are dickriders. In establishing this, let us first visit the name "Drake." 


The word "drake," before the current millennium, was probably most associated with the proper nomenclature for the male duck. Despite this fact, it has seen a steady uptick in male first names, since the mid-1980s. One can only hypothesize the degree to which Drake Bell of Nickelodeon's Drake & Josh kept the name popping throughout the early 2000s. But a distinct peak for the name can be seen right around 2009–2010, in a parallel alignment with Young Money's crown prince's meteoric rise. Since his initial come-up, we see a sharp decline, which seems drastic against a thirty-year upward trend. Do parents not want to name their kids after someone who is...too famous, perhaps?


If we want to stick with our original "parents are dickriders" hypothesis, the scientific method suggests that we should consult more data points. The above graph, refers, as you might have guessed, to the name "Kanye." Again, we see a glaringly obvious peak right around his original come-up, around 2004–2005. Then another steep drop-off, immediately after. Did he get too big? Did his "George Bush doesn't care about black people" comment put people off? Perhaps when Kanye said, "some of my plaques, they still say 'Kane'," parents decided that they didn't want to impose a life of typographical errors on their children.


Let's take it back a few years. Above, we find the name "Raekwon." Wu-Tang's debut album dropped in November of 1993. Immediately following that event, little baby Raekwons begin to populate the United States. Again, we reach a peak within just a couple years, then a dramatic fall back to around zero, just a couple years later. Our nation's Raekwons are a special few, just now reaching adulthood, and we should cherish their brief existence.


Finally, a trend that is just now reaching its peak: the name "Kendrick." We see a fairly steady hover throughout the last forty years or so, then around 2012, an unmistakable increase. The baby Kendricks are just beginning to speak, and hopefully, spit bars. Extrapolate our findings, and we'll see the name go stale before the end of the decade.

So...what do we take away from this? Probably not that much. We can really only look at data for names that are relatively unique (Wayne, for example, is too common of a name to assess). It is funny to look at, though, and we get to see the way in which given names follow the hype cycle. At the end of the day, people really aren't naming their kids after rappers. There are only enough Raekwons to fill up my relatively small high school. There aren't even close to enough Kanyes to fill up a Kanye concert. The real statistical meat is in singers—and death. Adeles are popping off again, the way they were in the 1880s. There are tens of thousands of Selenas and Aaliyahs. Future might be the only person in the country who named his child after Future. It's tough out here for the rapper namesake, but that just makes it that much more legendary to be one of the chosen few. Just ask Rakim Mayers.

Alex Russell is naming his firstborn YoungThuggaManeLaFlare Russell. You can find him on Twitter @nonmogul.

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