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Kanye

Kanye Becomes ‘Ye,’ Plus Other Weird Celebrity Name Changes

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Oct. 19 2021, Updated 12:15 p.m. ET

Okay, so it’s definitely not the weirdest thing Kanye West has ever done. But people are raising eyebrows after it was reported that a Los Angeles county judge has approved West’s petition to change his name to simply “Ye.” Given Ye’s propensity for comparing himself to Jesus and other iconic mega-figures throughout history, it’s likely that West was going for that single-name recognition. We thought “Kanye” was probably good enough, but the singer disagreed and is now officially Ye. CELEB takes a look at weird celebrity name changes through the years. 

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Yes It’s Ye

Kanye

Ye is on top of the world: his newest album just launched – after a seemingly endless listening party – and now, he gets the name of his dreams, which has long been his nickname. The 44 year old rapper petitioned a court in Los Angeles county to approve the name change two months ago, and it was granted late yesterday. According to Ye the change was requested for, “personal reasons.” Ye has a history with the name; aside from being a nickname, it played into the creation of the name for his brand of shoes called “Yeezy,” and he once considered naming his son Psalm “Ye”. 

And to mark the exciting announcement, Ye shared an image of a new haircut – which includes portions of what look to be randomly shaved areas along with a caption simply showing the sign for Japanese currency yen. Per Billboard via MSN, “In the pic, Ye is rocking a silver shirt and a platinum chain featuring his son Saint’s name in block letters. The shot is a rare glimpse of West’s uncovered face after several months of Ye appearing in public wearing a variety of high-fashion masks and full-face coverings. Rocking one of those mask — a grim-visaged black custom Balenciaga model — West performed a rare live solo set at the wedding of Tiffany & Co. EVP Alexander Arnault and D’Estree founder Geraldine Guiotte in Venice, Italy over the weekend.”

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While the haircut doesn’t exactly have us chanting, “yes!” we’re happy if Ye’s happy. 

Other Weird Celeb Name Changes

P Diddy

Ye is certainly not alone in the realm of weird celebrity name changes though. CELEB takes a look back at some of the most bizarre:

  • P-Diddy: The huge ’90’s hit hip hop artist and producer was born with the name Sean Combs, but went by his nickname “Puffy.” Eventually his stage name became Puff Daddy. Then it was P. Diddy. Then just Diddy. The artist’s evolution over the years has shifted around the trends in nicknames in general, proving that he’s shrewd – but it’s still a weird string of names. 
  • Snoop Lion: Born Calvin Broadus Jr., fewer artists are known more effectively by a nickname than Snoop Dogg. In the ’90’s, Snoop could be heard across many radio stations after being discovered by the indomitable Dr. Dre. He weirdly changed his name to Snoop Lion after undergoing some religious awakening, but eventually went back to Snoop Dogg.
  • The Artist Formerly Known: Prince was a superstar in the ’80’s and ’90’s, owning several genres and launching mega hits like “When Doves Cry,” and “1999.” So people were a little flummoxed when he changed his name to something. It was a symbol that Prince claimed combined the symbols for male and female, and it was unpronounceable, so rather ineffective as a name if you ask us. Thus, he became “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.” And for people too young to recall those days – yes, they really referred to him that way.
  • Chris Gaines: This one’s a little complicated. Gaines was never supposed to be a real person; country superstar Garth Brooks created the persona for a movie, and it was supposed to be a one-off chance for Brooks to explore his rock roots. But when the movie folded, Brooks – or Gaines, rather – released an album anyway under the new alias. Everyone was a little confused to see emo Garth Brooks with his hair pulled over his face calling himself Chris Gaines, so the name faded into history. But the jokes remained.
  • ODB: Born Russell Tyrone Jones, the rapper went by the stage moniker Ol’ Dirty Bas–rd. In 1998, he inexplicably changed his name to Big Baby Jesus. Why not, right? 
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There are many other weird celebrity name changes, such as Caryn Johnson better known as Whoopi Goldberg, and Vin Diesel whose real name is Mark Sinclair Vincent – but some of these stand out above the rest. 

Last Names Better Left in the Past

Joaquin Phoenix

Celebrity first names and stage names aren’t the only things they’ve changed. Some make sense – having a really awkward or inappropriate-sounding last name that you expect to hear blasted across tabloids and news headlines is probably best avoided. Here are some of the more noteworthy last name changes:

  • Joaquin Phoenix: Born Joaquin Bottom – need we say more? 
  • Guy Fieri: Born Guy Ferry. It’s just cool enough to be perfect.
  • Olivia Wilde: Born Olivia Cockburn. Another obvious one.
  • John Legend: Birth name, John Stephens. 
  • Tom Cruise: Ready for this one? Birth name, Thomas Mapother IV. Thank goodness for Cruise.
  • Steven Tyler: Born Steven Tallarico.
  • Andrew Lincoln: Birth name, Andrew Clutterbuck. We’re kind of sad to lose this one. 
  • Tim Allen: Birth name Tim Dick. 

But for every Andrew Lincoln out there – alas, Clutterbuck – someone like Benedict Cumberbatch has clung to their birth name and told the haters to take a hike. 

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