At 1pm today (12pm CST) I will be on the LaKesha Womack Show (@lakeshawomack) for a live 30 minute interview on success in music and business. You don't want to miss this one. To listen to the interview online click here or call 646.929.2031.
I became Arinze.
There was no way I was going to have anyone call me "Arinze." I thought it was just too difficult of a name to pronounce. It was too different, and all I wanted to do as a 6 year old was fit in. So I dropped the "nze"and told the world to call me "Ari" (pronounced like "Larry" without the "L"). To my surprise, people still had difficulty pronouncing the name (incorrectly calling it something that sounded like "R-rie"), but I would always tell myself, "Well, it's less stressful than teaching cats the longer version." So I chose to run with it.
I became Ari.
At age 16, I decided - along with three of my high school friends - to form a rap group. We wanted to be distinctive and have a sound like no other artist or band out there. Hence we decided to call ourselves "The Other." The name worked perfectly for us. We then decided that since it was 4-man group, it would be interesting if we each choose one of the first 4 letters of the word "other" and created a stage name with that letter. We could then make the "r" stand for "reinventing hip-hop." I arbitrarily chose "T." I picked up a dictionary, went straight to "T" and scrolled down until I got to the word "Talon." The definition read something like, "a claw; belonging to a bird or prey." I was unfamiliar with the word which attracted me to it even more. I thought to myself "Sharp claws? That could stand for sharp lyrics, and just being an overall a sharp individual." So I chose to run with it.
I became Ari a.k.a. Talon.
Years went by and before I knew it I was a freshman in college. In college I was a very active performer. One evening my crew and I had a performance and my entire family showed up. They always supported when it came to see me on stage. My brother was damn near in the front row and while I was doing a solo he yelled excitingly, "That boy is talented!" The crowd found it amusing. Ever since that night the word "talented" stuck with me. I just couldn't let it go. Weeks later my brother suggested, "Why don't you just add a 'ted' to 'Talon'?" You would think I would have thought of that already but I hadn't. I thought "Talon-ted? Yea - Talonted could work!" So I chose to run with it.
I became Ari a.k.a. Talonted.
Several years went by; and as they did, so did my acceptance of my so-called different, difficult name. Perhaps it was maturity. Perhaps part of me wanted to stop trying to make it easier on everyone else. If cats can learn how to pronounce "Louis Vuitton" then why should I make my name easier for them? Nah - not doing it. Or maybe it was partly shallow move because I noticed ladies seemed to love how "Arinze" sounded. In either case, I began introducing myself as "Arinze" rather than "Ari." And since I started down that path, "Talonted" has been getting farther and farther away from me. Talonted was who I was at at age 20. I'm not him anymore. I've lived in Argentina for 4 months. I've performed in Constitutional Law classes. I've purchased the home I grew up in. I've fallen in love with music outside of rap. I've read a few interesting books. I've sang on a hook. Fela Kuti became one of my favorite artists. I've run 10 miles with a bad knee. When I think of the man who I am today, I don't think "Talonted." I don't feel "Talonted." I think "Arinze." I feel "Arinze."
I've become Arinze. Again.
And Arinze is what I shall remain. I've already changed my Twitter and Instagram usernames. Because Facebook won't let you change your Fan page name if you have over 200 likes, I've started a brand new Arinze Facebook page from scratch. I ask you all to join me there. Hopefully most of my current 1,400+ likers will eventually find their way to my new page. If not - hey, it's all part of the process. I will be deleting my Talonted Facebook page at some point in the near future. Finally, my official website url is now www.iamarinze.com.
Funny how we walk such a long path just to end up right where we started. But then again, standing still gets you nowhere.
-Arinze, formerly known as Talonted.