VSB Presents: The #BlackestName In America Tournament, Round 1 Day 1


Detroit. The first season of Frank's Place. The second verse on Lift Every Voice and Sing. Frosted Flakes with added sugar. ?uestlove's name. ?uestlove's beard. Your auntie. Grape Kool-aid. Killah Priest. Every character Isaiah Washington has ever played. Delta Sigma Theta. Uncles named "Unc."


The list of things undeniably and unquestionably Black stretches from here to Gary, Indiana. And then to Venus. Because Venus is the Blackest planet. But nothing encapsulates the beauty, mystery, energy, and creativity of Black the way uniquely Black American names do. Whether simple sounding ("Leon Jenkins") or, well, not so simple sounding ("LaLebronjenea Jenkins"), there are few things that give us as much pleasure as hearing a name and immediately being able to tell with 99.9% certainty if the person it belongs to is Black.

Anyway, we all know Black names when we see and/or hear them. But…who has the Blackest Name in America?


As an attempt to finally determine America's Blackest name, we formed a committee of Blackness mavens to nominate dozens of very real names owned by very real people — beautifully Black names like Beyonce Knowles, Condoleezza Rice, and Rufus Arthur Johnson — eventually narrowing down to 64: A perfect number for a tournament!

We split the names into four "regions" (Athletes, Rappers, Black People You Know, Black People White People Know). They were also seeded by us. But, like the NCAA tournament, a high seed doesn't guarantee victory.

Below you'll have an opportunity to vote on each individual matchup. Round one will be split in two parts, today and tomorrow.

Anyway, that's enough intro. Let's find the Blackest Name in America!

Oh, and make sure to download and share the full bracket PDF!

The Rappers Bracket

#1 Nayvadius Cash (Future) VS #16 Antwan André Patton (Big Boi)

  • Nayvadius Cash (Future) (81%, 1,176 Votes)
  • Antwan André Patton (Big Boi) (19%, 284 Votes)

In quite possibility the easiest matchup of the opening round, Future's unique government matches up with Big Boi's. If this was the actual NCAA tournament, this would be the Kentucky vs Central Montana Tech State game.


#2 Cymphonique Miller VS #15 Obie Trice

  • Cymphonique Miller (95%, 1,355 Votes)
  • Obie Trice (5%, 88 Votes)

We know Cymphonique is not a rapper. But, she belongs to the rapping-ass Miller family, so she counts.


#3 Algernod Lanier Washington (Plies) VS #14 Juaquin Malphurs (Waka Flocka Flame)

  • Algernod Lanier Washington (Plies) (56%, 795 Votes)
  • Juaquin Malphurs (Waka Flocka Flame) (44%, 626 Votes)

Who'd a thunk that Waka Flocka's rapper name was less Black than his real name?

#4 Keenon Daequan Ray Jackson (YG) VS #13 Radric Davis (Gucci Mane)

  • Keenon Daequan Ray Jackson (YG) (89%, 1,232 Votes)
  • Radric Davis (Gucci Mane) (11%, 167 Votes)

"Ray" as a middle name definitely screams "Black." Well, either "Black" or "Serial killer."


#5 Dequantes Lamar (Rich Homie Quan) VS #12 D'eongelo Holmes (Yin Yang)

  • Dequantes Lamar (Rich Homie Quan) (79%, 1,075 Votes)
  • D'eongelo Holmes (Yin Yang Twins) (21%, 298 Votes)

It's the battle of the D's. (If I was in high school, I totally would have said "pause" after that. But I'm not, so I won't.)


#6 Lakeem “Ali” Mattox, Donquez “Quez” Woods, Harold “Strap” Duncan (Travis Porter) VS #11 Hercy, Mercy, Vercy, and Percy (Lil Romeo) Miller

  • Lakeem “Ali” Mattox, Donquez “Quez” Woods, Harold “Strap” Duncan (Travis Porter) (62%, 819 Votes)
  • Hercy, Mercy, Vercy, and Percy (Lil Romeo) Miller (38%, 521 Votes)

We lumped Travis Porter and Master P's kids together because, well, it just works better that way. And yes, we're just as confused as you are.


#7 Rufus Arthur Johnson (Bizarre from D12) VS #10 Vyshonn King Miller (Silkk the Shocker)

  • Vyshonn King Miller (Silkk the Shocker) (76%, 976 Votes)
  • Rufus Arthur Johnson (Bizarre from D12) (24%, 326 Votes)

Although he probably won't win, Rufus Arthur Johnson is my favorite name in the entire tournament. It's so authentically Black that it's poetic.


#8 Premro Smith (8 Ball) VS #9 Tauheed Epps (2 Chainz)

  • Tauheed Epps (2 Chainz) (74%, 956 Votes)
  • Premro Smith (8 Ball) (26%, 340 Votes)

This is a toss-up. I'm leaning towards Tauheed. Because, whenever a Tauheed is involved, you need to lean towards Tauheed.


The Black People You Know Bracket

#1 Va’Shaundya Karlette Nelson VS #16 Wanya Morris

  • Va’Shaundya Karlette Nelson (96%, 1,221 Votes)
  • Wanya Morris (4%, 65 Votes)

As Panama Jackson once stated, only in America can two people named Shaquille and Va’Shaundya meet, marry, and make billion dollars after they divorce.


#2 Linnethia Monique "NeNe" Leakes VS #15 Ciara Princess Harris

  • Linnethia Monique "NeNe" Leakes (94%, 1,187 Votes)
  • Ciara Princess Harris (6%, 94 Votes)

Count me in as one of the people who had no clue Nene's real name was actually Blacker than Nene.


#3 Mendeecees Harris and Yandy Smith VS #14 Kendrick Lamar Duckworth

  • Mendeecees Harris and Yandy Smith (87%, 1,089 Votes)
  • Kendrick Lamar Duckworth (13%, 180 Votes)

Of course we had to keep Yandy and Mendeecees and Yandy together. Because nothing will keep them apart. Well, aside from a 20-year prison term.


#4 Kelendria Trene Rowland VS #13 Rozonda Thomas

  • Kelendria Trene Rowland (81%, 1,002 Votes)
  • Rozonda Thomas (19%, 250 Votes)

I love both of these women.

#5 Jermajesty Jackson VS #12 Teedra Moses

  • Jermajesty Jackson (97%, 1,197 Votes)
  • Teedra Moses (3%, 54 Votes)

And we love Teedra Moses too!!! Especially Panama!!! Did you hear that, fans of Teedra Moses??? We love Teedra Moses!!!


#6 Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas VS #11 Taraji P Henson

  • Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas (90%, 1,103 Votes)
  • Taraji P Henson (10%, 136 Votes)

Real talk, Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas as a #6 seed is a travesty. Perhaps her RPI rating did her in.


#7 Lashontae Heckard VS #10 Towanda and Tamar Braxton

  • Lashontae Heckard (64%, 785 Votes)
  • Towanda and Tamar Braxton (36%, 445 Votes)

Moving on…

#8 Tremaine Aldon Neverson (Trey Songz) VS #9 Leon Jenkins

  • Leon Jenkins (56%, 681 Votes)
  • Tremaine Aldon Neverson (44%, 537 Votes)

Probably the best matchup of the entire first day of the tourney, Trey Songz's very Virginia government name vs Leon Jenkins, the recently ousted president of the L.A. NAACP, is a battle between traditionally Black and new Black. Basically, regular grits vs instant grits. And we all win when grits battle each other.


So there you have it. Again, please vote. And check back tomorrow for part 2 of round one, the Athletes region and the Black People White People Know region.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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My voting criteria
1) which name sounds worse being called when the street lights came on
2) who probably misspelled their own name til 4th grade
3) how much worse is the name they picked for themselves when they had a shot at redemption

That said I'm going with Silk the Shokker or Shaunie to win it all