Stage names are one of the basic elements that can make or break an artiste’s career. As the foundation of any performer’s brand, a stage name helps you stand out from the crowd. In some cases, it’s the first thing the audience interacts with before they get to your music. Once a moniker is adopted, it becomes an integral part of the artiste’s branding and persona which evolves into household names, in some cases. While most artistes usually hold on to their chosen names, a few have dared to change theirs for several reasons including personal growth or copyright-related issues. While some of these risk takers have proven that they are beyond titles, others have not been as lucky. Here is a list of eight Nigerian artists who have adopted new monikers before their careers took off or mid-career:
Wizkid (Lil Prince)
Wizkid was previously known as Lil Prince before he became a Grammy-award winner or signed to his first label – Empire Mates Entertainment (EME) record label; founded by Banky W and Tunde Demuren. Years later, he started going by Starboy; releasing music under the name ‘Starboy’ which clashed with Canadian singer, The Weeknd, after he put out his 2016 album, titled Starboy. He still goes by Wizkid or ‘Big Wiz’, as he is fondly referred to by his fan base.
After an impressive run as a member of the iconic Plantashun Boyz and a solo career most artists can only dream of, the superstar altered his stage name from 2Face to 2baba on the 10th of January, 2016. He revealed in an interview with Wazobia FM that he altered his name because he preferred a name that sounded more grown. 2baba added that he made his name change official because his friends had been calling him 2baba for a long time.
Kizz Daniel (Kiss Daniel)
On the 23rd of May 2018, Kizz Daniel declared on social media that he wouldn’t be going by the name Kiss Daniel anymore following a serious contract conflict with the former label, G Worldwide which ended in a legal battle. Amid the dispute, the label stated the name ‘Kizz Daniel’ belonged to them. Kizz later abandoned the G Worldwide to create his own record label, Flyboy inc.
Cruel Santino (Santi)
On the 19th of June, 2020, alte artiste Santi posted on social media that he would be changing his name to Cruel Santino after his inability to obtain copyrights to the moniker, Santi. It’s not the first time Cruel Santino changed his name as he was previously referred to as Ozzy B.
Like another artiste on this list, Mavins Record signee Poe became Ladipoe due to copyright claims. Mavins Record CEO, Don Jazzy said Ladipoe had to change his stage moniker after the record label was slammed with a copyright lawsuit.
After launching an enviable career for a new artist as Buju, Daniel Benson officially changed his stage name to BNXN (pronounced Benson) on the 18th of February 2022. The Afro-Fusion singer changed his name after he was mistaken for Jamaican artiste Buju Banton which had already been trademarked. His management said, “We had to change his name because of the confusion in the market space between the names Buju and the Jamaican singer Buju Banton, as a fast-growing global brand that BNXN is, the name Buju makes it harder to trademark and take certain legal procedures, so to avoid legal actions, we had to change the name.”
Sinzu SMG (Sauce Kid)
Previously known as Sauce Kid, Nigerian rapper, Sinzu announced on Twitter that he would be changing his stage name from Sauce Kid to Sinzu SMG on July 20, 2012. He said, “Guess no artist want to answer kid these days. Kinda like Sinzu. Don’t know what SMG stands for tho”.
Madrina (Cynthia Morgan)
After a long hiatus, Dancehall artiste, Cynthia Morgan returned to the music scene in 2017 with a new track under the moniker, Madrina. Following the release, she took another break and her return was controversial as she blamed ex-boss Jude Okoye (P-Square’s older brother and manager) for the unpleasant experience she faced in the music sphere. Cynthia during an Instagram live chat claimed she lost her stage name, social media account and royalties as a result of the contract she signed under Jude’s record label Northside Entertainment.