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Reflections: The name game & much more!

  • Written by Steve Holsey

Hardcore rapper Snoop Dogg, who started out as Snoop Doggy Dogg, has converted to the Rastafarian religion and subsequently decided to change his stage name to Snoop Lion.

In that religion, the "lion" referred to is "the Lion of Judah," from the Old Testament of the Bible, which creators of the religion believed to be a future reference to Haile Selassie, who was emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. (How they came to that conclusion is another story.)

Snoop is not the first celebrity to change his name for reasons related to newfound religious beliefs.

For example, Terrence Trent D'Arby had a revelation of some sort and changed his name to Sananda Maitrya. Sports legends Cassius Clay and Lew Alcindor became Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar respectively. Pop/rock singer Cat Stevens is now known as Yusuf Islam. Joe Tex, the 1960s-70s R&B hit-maker, changed his name to Yusuf Hazziez at which time he became a spiritual lecturer, although he did not abandon his music career.

And then there are those who change their names for reasons that have nothing to do with religion.

Prince became an unpronounceable symbol, although just about everyone's preference was "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince." (Later he again became "Prince.") Diddy (original name: Sean Combs) was Puff Daddy, then P. Diddy, and then shortened it to Diddy. Then there was the late gangsta rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard (born Russell Jones) who later adopted the name "Dirt McGirt."

YOU HAVE to give it to Morris Day. The singer-showman has gotten so much mileage out of his "cool" routine, complete with Jerome Benton holding up a mirror so that he can check out his looks. Audiences never get tired of it. In that sense, it's like James Brown and his famous "Please Please Please" cape routine. Morris Day & the Time recently performed at Arts, Beats and Eats in Royal Oak.

MOST PEOPLE ASSUME that Will Smith's name is William. Not so. It's actually Willard.

PEOPLE GOT ALL BENT out of shape — with the help of the increasingly zealous media — when, on a recording by hardcore rapper Lil Wayne, the "colorful" Nicki Minaj said, "I'm a Republican, voting for Mitt Romney."

There was so much of a furor that even President Obama called a major radio station, but he instinctively knew not to take it seriously.

Minaj responded by saying, "Thank you for understanding my creative humor and sarcasm, Mr. President. The smart ones always do. Now I can tell my grandchildren that the first Black president of the United States took the time to address a Nicki Minage question."

SPEAKING of President Obama, praise and applause to Jay-Z and wife Beyoncé for having a fundraiser for Obama's reelection campaign at Jay-Z and his business partners' 40/40 Club in New York City. It was expected to bring in $4 million!

SUPERSTAR actor George Clooney also had a $40,000 a plate dinner. Kudos to him too and all others who are doing the right thing. A win by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would be a setback in so many ways, certainly for all minority groups and women.

BORIS KODJOE, the talented, handsome and in shape actor, says one key to a successful marriage is remaining physically appealing to your spouse. That's why he works so hard to keep it together for his wife, actress Nicole Ari Parker. Kodjoe, by the way, has what is likely the longest birth name in show business history: Boris Frederic Cecil Tay-Natey Ofuatey-Kodjoe!

BETCHA DIDN'T KNOW... that even though "Shop Around" by the Miracles was Motown's first million seller in early 1961 (it was released in late 1960), the first Motown song to go all the way to No. 1 on the national Pop charts was "Please Mr. Postman" by the Marvelettes in late 1961.

MEMORIES: "Any Love" (Luther Vandross), "Going in Circles" (the Friends of Distinction), "Muscles" (Diana Ross), "Breaking Up Somebody's Home" (Ann Peebles), "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" (Elton John), "On Broadway" (the Drifters), "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" (Nina Simone), "I Will Survive" (Gloria Gaynor), "Gangster of Love" (Johnny "Guitar" Watson), "The Other Woman" (Ray Parker Jr.)

WORDS OF THE WEEK, from season six "American Idol" finalist Melinda Doolittle: "It's not always easy to do the right thing, but it is always worth it."

Let the music play!

(Steve Holsey can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

(Special to The New Tri-State Defender from its Real Times Media partner, The Michigan Chronicle.)

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