Say What Now? How To Properly Pronounce The Names Of 11 Of Our Favorite Artists

November 6, 2014  |  
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When trying to get into a new artist, or even trying to talk about one of your favorites, I always find it interesting the different ways people pronounce an artist with a complicated moniker’s name. I mean, how were you saying Jamiroquai when they first blew up? Did you know how to say Mtume when you were jamming to “Juicy Fruit”? With that in mind, I thought I’d help you with the pronunciations of a few names you’ve heard and/or probably seen in the past or in the past few years at least, but might not have been saying correctly. I know I was messing all the way up on a few of these:

Goapele

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My friend swore Goapele’s name was pronounced, “geo-pel,” but she was waaaay off. Think of it more as “go-op-ull-ay”:

Rae Sremmurd

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The name is “ear drummers” backwards, and I think that’s why I always trip up on the “Sremmurd” part.  To be honest with you though, I still don’t have it all the way together…With that being said, I’ll let them tell you how to pronounce it, and also share how many people butcher their band name on a daily basis:

Rihanna

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While most of us say “re-awn-uh,” a few years back the Bajan singer clarified that it’s “re-anna,” but she doesn’t mind either pronunciation.

Meshell Ngedecello:

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The struggle for me to get this last name right is very real, so I’ll let Meshell break it down for you. But what I can tell you is that her surname is Swahili, and she says that it means “free like a bird.”

Gotye:

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The “Somebody That I Used To Know” singer says that his name is pronounced in the same way that you say Jean Paul Gaultier’s name: “go-tee-ay”

INXS

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When I asked a friend if they knew how to pronounce INXS, she looked at the name and said “Oh no girl, I can’t tell you what that is.” Most fans of the Australian rock band know the deal, but for those who don’t, it’s pronounced “in excess.”

Digable Planets

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“Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” is one of my absolute favorite songs, but for years I’ve been guilty of saying Digable Planets’ name wrong. It’s “dig-able,” not “digi-ble” like I’d been incorrectly saying.

Sza

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Think “sizz-uh.” The Jersey native and TDE singer said that the name comes from the Supreme Alphabet, which, according to Wikipedia is: “in the religious belief system of the Nation of Gods and Earths, a system of interpreting text and finding deeper meaning in the original 120 Lessons written by Elijah Muhammad and Wallace Fard Muhammad by assigning meanings to the letters of the Roman alphabet.”

SZA and Charlamagne break down what each letter stands for below (sovereign–instead of savior–Zig zag and Allah):

Stalley

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The MMG rapper from Massillon, Ohio says his name came from the word “stallion.” It was a nickname given to him by family because of how hard he went when it came to his athletics.

Macklemore

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A lot of people say “mackel,” instead of “mackLEmore.” The rapper breaks down how he got the name from his time in a graphic design class:

ILoveMakonnen

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This fella is the reason why many clubs right now are ‘goin’ up, on a Tuesday.’ But that doesn’t mean everyone knows how to say his name: think “muh-conan.”

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