For years, I’ve had to sheepishly admit to past girlfriends (and those awkward ice breaker groups) that my name is a compromise between Malcolm Jamal, like Malcolm-Jamal Warner, then Theo from The Cosby Show, and Michael Jordan. I guess it’s obvious who won.
That pales in comparison to some of my family members names.
I have cousins named after celebrities as well, but their names aren’t nearly as normal as Mike. There’s my cousin Beyoncé, who can’t sing and doesn’t seem destined for a career in show business. Her mom thought the name Beyoncé was cute and ironically, I never knew her real name until I randomly asked one day what Bouncy’s real name was. Needless to say there was a spit-take involved.
There’s also my cousin Devonte, who is named after the least famous member of the R&B group Jodeci. Sure, there are hometown ties but he’s forever carrying the moniker of someone who just so happened to be on top of the World when his mom was knocked up.
What’s crazy is this shit happens all the time. See Marley sounds cool and at least Aaliyah and Erykah sound cute. What about the Arsenio down the street from me? The Madonnas in middle school? All of them having to live with the fact their parents were short-sighted enough to believe their idols would be on top forever.
I had a classmate in college who’s legal name was Billy Dee Williams and he went by Billy Dee Williams (he rapped too, but that’s another story). I’ll never forget the first day of class freshman year when our professor got to his name on the roll and said, “this can’t be for real.” Ironically, his twin brother is William David, yes, that’s Will Williams. I also went to school with multiple Bobby Browns; at least that one doesn’t scream slap my parents (unless they had a Gumby to match growing up).
What sucks is as child of the '80s and '90s, my old yearbooks are littered with names like Prince, Apollonia and my personal favorite, Fresh. But our steadily increasing celebrity infatuation will only produce more names like this in the coming years. Somebody’s kid is going to be named Ke$ha and Beiber.
The name Fantasia is more popular than ever in elementary schools with kids whose mothers thought her story was empowering scaring their kids for life. I’m willing to bet rappers’ names will be bitten too. Little Lupe, Wale and Gucci will be running around in the class of 2028. Don’t believe me. Look around at how many hood kids are running around with the name Sincere after the fictional character in the DMX and Nas led movie, Belly.
It’s got to be tough knowing that your high school diploma or college degree will say (insert celebrity du jour from 20 years ago here) Smith. I mean it could be worse; your name could be Picaboo Street or worse yet, someone from a cycle of The Bachlorette, Survivor or some other shitty reality show we’ll thankfully have forgotten about by then.
Almost makes you long for the days where the biggest stars in the World had plain Jane names. Here’s to you Michael, Bruce, Paul and John. Apologies in advance for Soulja, Kanye and the middle name Flocka.