The Abundance of Lil' Big Rappers in Music Nowadays

Elly Zulaikha
April 5, 2020
3 minutes

Maybe it’s just us, but we’ve all seen there are so many rappers that use Lil’ in their rap names. On a side note, yes, it’s the easiest way to distinguish our favorite rappers but have you wondered why it’s a Lil’ tad too much? We’re here to talk about exactly the Lil’ big rappers and their abundance in music nowadays.

The early days

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Let’s go back to the history of raps and where it all began. Before we see Lil’ rappers left and right, the name Lil’ was pretty much non-existent until one Houston rapper, Lil Troy, introduced this trademark name way back in 1988. Fast forward until now, if you want to be a rapper, don the ‘Lil’ prefix for your name and voila, you’re a Lil’ aspiring rapper!

According to DJ Booth, “the signings of Lil Kim and Lil Cease to J.U.N.I.O.R. Mafia in 1995” catapulted the Lil’ craze as a new dawn in the hip hop industry, though it was already a trend way before. However, only a fraction knew the real commercial value with the name.

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Interestingly, the name ‘Lil’ comes later in hip hop’s community favorite, as the prefix ‘Young’ or ‘MC’ were often used by previous rappers until, well, a newbie overthrown the elderly. But this largely comes down to the law of the market where any product has a certain shelf-life to it and with time, will soon be replaced with something new. 

Creative Exhaustion

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There’s Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Wayne, Lil Pump, Lil Yachty, Lil Jon, Lil Dicky, Lil Nas and the list goes on. This Lil’ trend (no pun intended) may be a result of getting into an already fierce rapping competition, and if you’re a rapper with Lil on your name, you’re part of this Lil’ big rapper family. But have you tried going on to Spotify, and you type Lil and there’s probably 200+ search results? 

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Talk about wanting to stand out in the crowd.

However, not all rappers who blindly use the name Lil’ without a reasonable history behind their choice. Rapper Lil Jon once revealed he liked his stage name because one of his friends who shares the same name John, is a size bigger than him and they called him Big John. Since he was the smallest in the group, hence came the name, Lil Jon. 

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Additionally, some rappers eventually grow out of their Lil’ names due to their age and generally feeling it’s not suitable for them anymore. Rapper Lil Bow Wow, now known as Shad Moss, changed the first name because he just doesn’t “feel” it anymore. Interestingly, the name Bow Wow was actually suggested by Snoop Dogg, whom Shad Moss initially used as his rapper name for a while before he changed to his current rapper name.

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A Lil’ too much?

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Perhaps ‘Lil’ may come to an end someday as we see new rappers shift to a different way of distinguishing themselves. While it certainly is a riskier option than choosing to follow the masses, some rappers who opted by using other trademark names managed just well. 

We see some rappers who use their real name as their household names like Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, and Kanye West. Then some rappers added “the” in their rap name to sound more interesting such as Chance the Rapper or Sage the Gemini. Of course, there are notable rappers who mixed their real names and some made-up names that are loved by many, for example, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Drake. 

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Regardless of whether there are too many rappers with Lil’ in their name, you can’t deny the fact that you can easily recognize these guys way before they start rapping.