My first rap name was Mic Kin when I started recording in 1995.
In 2000 I changed it to Mike Kenworthy. In 2001, I changed it to Dirty N’ Piss, but, people thought the name consisted of two people and asked which one am I? Dirty or Piss?
One afternoon in Burbank, on my day off, I was sitting in my studio and I decided to dedicate one day to figuring out a moniker.
I thought about it for hours and realized one day I might be 39 and rapping. An ego-boosting/cartoon-ish name in my 40’s seemed to me immature. So I thought I was doing myself a favor and going the honest, mature route using Michael Nhat. 15 years and over 10 albums later, I begin to wonder if was a disservice to myself.
And I think it was. No one cares how mature or immature my name is.
They only care about the name itself and the sound they associate with it.
For me to use an easily misspelled, weak sounding name, 99% Americans mispronounce was very Erick Sermon and Keith Murray-ish of me (Their usage of their real names also influenced me to just use my name), but in hindsight, a larger than life name would have been to my benefit.
When people hear a “provocative” name it entices them to want to hear what they’re all about. When people hear Michael Nhat, they mispronounce it, and that’s it. It doesn’t compel them to want to hear what I’m making. It’s boring. It’s doesn’t illicit anything.
Fans today, attached to the name, expressing their disapproval of the name change only like the name because they have already heard the music and know the name to associate it with. There’s nothing like-able about Michael Nhat the name. My content was not the issue all these years. I think it was my foreign uninviting name. I thought, since it was Asian, and my real name, I’d benefit like Wu-Tang, but Wu sounds cool. Nat, does not and Nat is the first impression of how it’s non-Vietnamese people assume it to sound. If I was not me, Michael Nat would not want to go google the guy and become a fan, but Ten-Headed Skeleton does.
Another reason I changed the name has nothing to do with how you pronounce Michael Nhat. It’s about me being pigeon-holed.
Some people from the past don’t like me because I’m a nerdy hipster and my lyrics are insensible. People can’t understand them.
Well, I stopped wearing glasses and I addressed the latter three years ago clarifying my writing. Making sure every song is understandable, so there’s no more excuses I don’t make sense. And that’s actually when I should have changed the name. I just didn’t realize it until now.
Why Ten-Headed Skeleton? Because I make my music with my hands and they have ten limbs known as finger and thumbs. They do all the button pushing like they have a mind of their own. So, Ten-Headed Skeleton.