Two Turnpikes And A Microphone: How Hip-Hop Musicians Are Embracing Roads And Motorways

An illustration of a studio microphone and pop filter over a motorway map. By Oddball Times

Today we answer the age old question; how do musicians decide what to call themselves? Fans assume that stage-names are simply nicknames from childhood or possibly some random thought that popped into a musician’s head. It was all a mystery… until now.

We have inside information that certain Hip-Hop artists used the humble road map in order to select their name. M-1 of Political Hip-Hop group Dead Prez for example, is named after the north-south motorway connecting Leeds to London. Melanin 9 from Hip-Hop collective Orphans Of Cush and Triple Darkness is known as “M9”, and M9 we all know, is a motorway in Scotland running from the outskirts of Edinburgh, bypassing the towns of Linlithgow, Falkirk, Grangemouth, Stirling, and ending at Dunblane. B-1, an underground rapper from Queens, New York who made a few singles with Kool G Rap and Large Professor, is named after the road in Northern Ireland connecting the B176 road at Downpatrick and the A2 road at Ardglass.

This trend has on occasion, been tried by musicians from other genres. Grime artist C4 for example, is named after the Circumferential Road 4 in the Philippines and US R&B boyband B5 were named after the national highway located in Namibia.

It’s no secret that the highways and byways have been an inspiration in Hip-Hop music for years. Ever since Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel made “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)” (a song about straying over lane markings on British roads) rap music has drawn inspiration from the literal streets, but few knew that MCs across the globe also chose their moniker by perusing through an A-Z.

So now that you’re in on this little secret, a young up-and-coming British MC to look out for is M6 Toll featuring his crew B5023. Word has it that his new track “Average Speed Limit Madting” is lit like UK streets before midnight.

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