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Identity Crisis: A Look At Our Favorite Hip Hop Alter Egos [Editorial]

Published: July 12, 2012 in Tech N9ne by

A Look At Hip Hop Alter-Egos

The alter ego. Like flipping a light switch, an artist can step into an entirely new personality and allow themselves the freedom to reinterpret their art. Whether it’s just a different side of them or a completely new character, an alter ego serves as an escape of sorts.

Over the years, hip hop artists have looked to the alter ego as a means of entertainment, catharsis, and reinvention. These days, it seems like every emcee in the game has a split personality. From Weezy’s Lil Tunechi to B.o.B’s Bobby Ray, the nicknames continue to stack up.

Still, there’s a lot to be said for well-executed transformations that artists go through. A fleshed-out character can go a long away after all (see Slim Shady, he just won’t die).

With speculation swirling over Tech’s EBAH revelation, we decided to take a look at some of our favorite alter egos in hip hop. Try to keep up because we aren’t checking IDs on this one.

RZA as Bobby Digital

Bobby Digital

The villain to his RZA, Bobby Digital was everything the Wu-Tang leader wasn’t. Disrespectful to women, always on the hunt for the party, and ready for just about anything, Bobby Digital opened up a new route for RZA and also allowed him to expand on his already innovative sound. Still a favorite of Wu-heads everywhere, Bobby Digital is everything a comic enthusiast wants in his hip hop music.

Honorable mention: The RZA’s long list of nick names, along with the entire Wu-Tang Clan’s 1,000 or so alter egos. We just don’t have the time.

Kool Keith as Dr. Octagon

Dr. Octagon

Is Kool Keith genius or insane? We still haven’t figured that one out, but we do know that Dr. Octagon is one of the coolest characters to ever grace wax. He’s from Jupiter and he’s here to touch your women and murder your people with his inept surgery skills. With a complex storyline to match the music, Kool Keith brought Dr. Octagon to life and terrorized listeners until his death at the hands of Dr. Dooom – another Kool Keith alias.

T.I. and T.I.P.

T.I. As T.I.P.

In 2007, T.I. squared off against who else? Himself. Playing both sides of the card, T.I. stepped into the role of the business-oriented CEO and the street-raised thug for an album that saw the conflicted emcee come face to face with his inner struggles. Maybe not the biggest stretch of the imagination, but he did get a platinum record out of it and it gave fans a glimpse at T.I.’s more creative side.

Nicki Minaj as Roman Zolanski

Nicki Minaj Is Roman

Love her or hate her, Nicki Minaj knows how to get a reaction and in 2010 when she tore through Kanye West’s “Monster”, that reaction was “wow.” The leading lady of YMCMB has redefined what it is to be different and thanks to her Roman alter ego, we all get to see how different she can get.

Roman Zolanski (yes, he even gets a last name) is Nicki’s inner-demon also known as her twin brother who may just be a homicidal maniac. Often compared to Em’s Slim Shady, Roman made his television debut at the 54th Grammy Awards.

Honorable mention: Roman’s mother, Martha, who makes an appearance on “Roman Holiday”.

2Pac as Makaveli

2pac As Makaveli

The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory is arguably 2Pac’s darkest album. Officially donning the Makaveli stage name, 2Pac recorded his final studio album in 1996. The result was a collection of twelve tracks featuring 2Pac as Makaveli, a meaner and grittier version of himself.

Riddled with gunshots and disses at some of the biggest names at the time – Notorious B.I.G. and Nas among others – the album put a spotlight on what could be defined as rage and paranoia inside 2Pac. It was that ultra-violent and sometimes prophetic vibe that shaped the Makaveli alias, giving fans an album that recounts the final days of Tupac Shakur.

Nas as Escobar

Nas As Escobar

Mafia rap. Nas may not have invented it, but he definitely brought it to the spotlight along with several other emcees on the East Coast.

Armed with his new alias, Escobar, Nas switched his style up after the release of Illmatic and took listeners on a more violent path inspired by money, fame, and fiction. Originally conceived by his guest appearance on Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, the Escobar persona made appearances throughout Nas’ career and continues to be a favorite among fans.

Honorable mention: The Chef aka Lex Diamonds aka Raekwon for sparking Escobar. Go get that purple tape.

Tech N9ne as The King, The Clown, and The G

Tech N9ne As The King, The Clown, And The G

Tech N9ne has always given himself to listeners and on 2006’s Everready: The Religion, he gave up three sides of his life: The King, The Clown, and The G.

The three characters represented Tech N9ne at different points in his life as well as the conflicts he often faced – The King with a god complex, The Clown with a destructive thirst for women and drugs, and finally, The G, the one who understands what is most important in life. It was with these three personalities that Tech N9ne faced his fears and displayed the sincerity that makes him an open book to fans.

Honorable mention: EBAH. Mostly because we don’t know what’s about to happen.

Eminem as Slim Shady

Eminem As Slim Shady

Hide the kids because Slim Shady hasn’t gone anywhere. Em’s notoriously violent and comical alter ego first invaded speakers on a national scale on the Slim Shady LP and forever rang these words in our heads, “Hi, my name is…”

Since then, Slim has stormed label offices and even kidnapped Dr. Dre at one point. From spawning a generation of kids in white tees and bleach-blond hair to pissing off just about every mother in America, Slim Shady might just be the most dangerous white boy to ever suit up as Robin.

Honorable mention: The rest of D-12 because without the dirty dozen there would be no Slim.

– Victor Sandoval, Assistant Blog Editor Strange Music

  • What are some of your favorite alter egos in hip hop?
  • Did we miss any that you think belong on this list?

Let us know in the comments section below!

  • Slim Shady. The only one with a real distinction.

  • I gotta say… my favorite alter ego is The Jokerr.

  • Tech N9ne is the only way to go

  • nigga

    All gay

  • TU PAC AND SLIM SHADY!!!!!! <3

  • GoblinTom

    I relate to Tech’s Clown ego the most.

  • realkain

    2pac as makaveli

  • Majishun

    What about Canibus as Rip the Jacker

  • iLL-Bred

    I gotta say all the Psychopathic Records Artist

  • tech 9 and strange music all day!!

  • skywalker

    Sorry slim all the way, but mad lov tech!

  • Majishun

    Ghostface should get a mention too. And let’s not forget Johnny Blaze

  • Makaveli !!!!!! and Slim Shady =)

  • tech tech tech!! fuck that fake bitch nikki

  • Wonder Lil’ Em

    Eminem as Slim Shady

  • With all due respect to Tech, but I’ve chosen Tupac fo shizzle

  • Andrew

    Sawed Off Letha Face Krayzie Bone Jackson mutha fuckas!

  • Cole

    Eminem, Marshall mathers, slim shady, b-rabbit,

  • tech n9ne!!

  • Eminem as slim shady

  • Tim G..

    Pac definitely has seniority n i love the covered meaning behind Makaveli. My favorite would have to go to Tech N9ne tho because it is an elaborate and genius portraits of not only himself but i feel the same about myself. We all have many sides of our being.. its accurately identifying them that can be difficult.. not to mention making it into beautiful music that appeals to thousands of others… Tech got that fo sho.. if you dont agree… its probably because you dont listen and fully understand..

  • Emma

    I have to say its gotta be makaveli and tech. Makaveli is classic, tech is now.

  • 2 pac NIGGA!!!!!!!!!!

  • Grimfresh

    Bushwick Bill as Chucky!!! Geto Boys!!!

  • Thatguy

    Tyler the Creator,Golf Wang,Wolf Haley,and Thurnis Haley

  • creoleladyred

    Tupac, Eminem as Slim Shady, Tech N9ne, Nicky Minaj-don’t shoot me please LOL- and T.I.

  • HipHopisdead

    Nas as Escobar

  • CodyBooouuund

    SHAAADDYYYY

  • Brotha Lynch Hung as the Coathanga Strangla. GRRR….

  • A tie between Tech N9ne and Slim Shady

  • Chef

    Tech of course. Best artist alive

  • rewt705

    brotha lynch coathanga strangla!!!!

  • The Clown

    Tech all the way. Fuck that club music Eminem shit.

  • chicken

    yelawolf as catfish billy or Slick Rick E. Bobby

  • tech n9ne, king, clown an G, rawest shit

  • Faith

    always have forever will most love Eminem 🙂

  • its gotta be tech!!!!

  • there’s no Coathanga Strangla??? Okay then my vote goes for TECH N9NE!!!

  • Lukas

    Eminem as slim shady

  • MJP

    makaveli ALL THE FUCKING WAY.

  • who the fuck can mess with 2Pac as Makaveli,Nas as Escobar,Eminem as slimshady & tech N9ne as king
    my favorites in this rap arena

  • DREADKNOT

    DANIEL DUMILE AS M.F. DOOM

  • dirtdillinger

    Shady enough said

  • MDU36

    N9ne as the king,clown,& G and eminem as slim shady

  • Graze

    The KING, CLOWN, N The G All Day, Then Makaveli N Bobby Digi. Fuck Shady Hella Whack Now

  • EMIN3M as SLIM SHADY

  • odd one out

    can i do 2 pac as slim shady???

  • xMozzee

    What the fuck is a nicki minaj?

  • Dana

    ALWAYS AND FOREVER TECH N9NE!! JUST WENT HIS CONCERT AT POPS AND HE IS THE SH*T

  • mr_2shoes

    Tech or Em. As much as I like Slim Shady, Tech has 3 alter egos

  • Slim Shady, u can realy tell that em is slim right away

  • Makaveli the Don and SLim Shady
    nicki mirage is a joke.
    I didnt know nas and tech had a alias they’re are just perona’s

  • no one thought of shock g as humpty hump? you know, actually going out of his way to make him seem as a different person?but out of these guys id say RZA as bobby digital. roman zolanski is the worst. copying a name of an already famous person and changing the first letter is just stupid.i know 2pac got makaveli from that politician guy but thats cuz he read ”the prince” and tried to basesome aspects of that albumon it.

  • Technician

    The killa klown in yo town raisin all hell. Tech will always win!

  • Jake G

    Gotta say Shock G as Humpty Hump is my favorite lol

  • Zentech

    Tech N9ne all the way! He blows them all out of the water. No one can compare to Tech, NOBODY!

  • mzz

    DOOM >>>

    MF DOOM, Metal Fingers, King Geedorah, Viktor Vaughn, Zev Love X,

  • Psychopathic rydas

  • Buddah

    TECH N9NE forever STRANGE!!! and of course eminem and tupac..KILLUMINATI

  • No doubt about it when I say Tech you say N9ne….Tech N9ne…… Strange Music Baby!

  • sk

    Tech n9ne…isnt that obvious? Anybody that listens to tech turns into a technician

  • nicki & eminem.

  • tech shady

    zolanski?? wtf is she jewish?
    i’ll listen to slim and tech till deaf

  • Kio

    Imagine if Tech and Em did an album together,
    Eminem and Tech N9ne,
    Slim and The King.

    Eminem and Slim wouldn’t relate to The Clown, as Eminem likes to kidnap and rape, so… o.o
    But, Eminem would go with The G,
    And Slim would go with The King.

  • S.K.

    T.I. & T.IP. & Tech n9ne with him alteregos

  • Tech N9ne as The King, The Clown, and The G

  • EMIN3M as SLIM SHADY & Tech N9ne

  • blood diamond

    cassidy deserves to be on here he was the hustla,the problem and bars he battled his characters on his albums intros and even dissed ti for stealing that

  • Styles Pinero

    It’s such a shame not much love for RZA although everyone loves Slim Shady who is impossibly less talented musically than the RZA. Wu Tang forever! Oh and I also love the idea of the gangsta the killa and the dope deals of Bow Down. And where the hell are DOOM and Madlib while we’re discussing alter egos? There’s left out and nicki Minaj is mentioned? Please

  • Styles Pinero

    Yeah, and from a registered sex offender to boot!

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