Kanye Omari West, one of the most well known celebrities in the world, legally changed his name to Ye in 2021. A legal name change, the way Ye did it, is a process in Superior Court that results in a Decree Changing Name. A Certified Copy of that Decree is a command document that requires government, financial and other ID and Official Records agencies to update the name to match the Decree.
People legally change names for many reasons. Always, quite important and very personal. In Ye’s Petition for Change of Name, he only stated that he was seeking the change for “personal reasons”. That is a sufficient reason for legal name change, but judge’s will sometimes inquire further as they are free to do. Kanye’s judge did not inquire further and signed his Decree, making his name Ye for every legal purpose.
Ye did offer further explanations, in various interviews (Kanye to Ye), about why he had sought the name change. As you may know, Ye is a deeply religious person and his faith orientation seems to be at the heart of his name change. He said that Ye was the most numerous word in the bible and he wanted that connection. He also said that while Kanye had a meaning that focused on the individual, the meaning of Ye was more inclusive of everyone and everything.
While Celebrities get quite a lot of publicity attention for their name changes, it’s likely that the general public Petitions for legal name change at least as often as celebrities do. Destiny Hope Cyrus became Miley Ray Cyrus in the more traditional entertainment transition. Growing up, her family nickname was “Smiley” and she used that name in her early acting and singing career, but shortening it to “Miley). So, she stepped into her nickname and stage name when she legally Petitioned to become Miley Ray Cyrus in 2008.
Regular people file Name Change Petitions all the time to take their nickname as their legal name, or to take a new name that may help them better take advantage of their own future in work, business, or even in their personal relationships (EZNameChange.com). And there are many, many Americans who take a new name for religious or spiritual reasons.
Ye’s name change does have the more unusual characteristic of being a mononym: a one word name. There aren’t many of them, for lots of different reasons. Other people have Petitioned for a mononym, and been Granted, so Ye’s is not unique in that regard. Most people want and have at least a two or three word name for family or personal individualization reasons. However, there are also practical issues that may complicate people’s everyday life that are the result of having a mononym. For instance, if you go to make an airline or hotel reservation, their systems may not be able to complete a reservation unless you provide a first and a last name. As a mega-celebrity, Ye may not be confronted with that type of problem, but most everyone else would have to wrestle with that.
Kanye’s journey to Ye is certainly deeply personal and meaningful to him. His change of name will have practical impacts for his family though. Again, the mega-celebrity nature of his family may buffer those effects too. West was previously his legal last name. He has an ex-wife (Kim Kardashian West, of course) and children who also shared the West last name. Neither Kim’s Name, nor their children’s names become legally changed as a result of Ye’s legal name change. So, that becomes a consideration for those other family members. There’s the further consideration that Kim and Ye are now divorced. At their economic level, there may not be complications related to travel, school or medical services. Those issues may well factor into the name change considerations of less famous people in name change situations.
Ye’s legal Name Change is undoubtedly a really important and deeply satisfying personal event for him. In that he would share the kind of feeling that millions of other people feel when they get Granted the New Legal Name that they’ve considered, petitioned for and have chosen to take for themselves and for their future (Posts by Name Changers). Ye may say that it’s for everyself…us all…Ye.