The Baby Names Khaza & Islah

Baton Rogue-based rapper Kevin Gates and his wife Dreka have two children, daughter Islah (pronounced ees-lah) and son Khaza. Both names have been featured in Kevin’s music recently. As a result, both names have also seen a relatively steep rise in usage recently.

In May of 2015, Gates released the song “Khaza” [vid]. The same year, the baby name Khaza was the 2nd-highest-rising boy name of 2015 (after Rhydian). Usage was largely in the South.

  • 2017: 72 baby boys (and 10 baby girls) named Khaza
    • 13 in LA, 9 in GA, 7 in TX, 6 in TN, 5 in AL (56%)
  • 2016: 77 baby boys (and 6 baby girls) named Khaza
    • 18 in TX, 11 in LA, 7 in AL, 6 in GA, 6 in FL, 6 in NC, 5 in TN (77%)
  • 2015: 34 baby boys named Khaza
    • 8 in TX, 6 in LA (41%)
  • 2014: 6 baby boys named Khaza [debut]
  • 2013: unlisted

I’m not certain where the name comes from, but my wild guess is that it’s based on the Quranic word khaza’in, which means “treasures” in Arabic. (Gates is a practicing Muslim.)

In January of 2016, after releasing various mixtapes and singles, Gates finally put out his first studio album, Islah. Spin called it “the most-balanced Kevin Gates project to date.” The same year, the baby name Islah was the 2nd-highest-rising girl name of 2016 (after Kehlani).

  • 2017: 58 baby girls named Islah
    • 9 in FL, 8 in TX
  • 2016: 48 baby girls (and 5 baby boys) named Islah
    • 8 in CA, 8 in TX
  • 2015: 8 baby girls named Islah
  • 2014: unlisted
  • 2013: unlisted

In this case I can tell you precisely where the name came from, because Gates talked about it in several interviews. Here’s how he defined the album title for HotNewHipHop in late 2015:

“To reform, to improve, to make better. And I believe that’s what my first daughter did to me, so I named my first album after my first daughter. Because it improved me, it made me better.”

And that’s exactly what the Arabic word islah means: “to improve, to better, to put something into a better position.”

Which baby name do you like more, Khaza or Islah? Would you use either one?

Sources:

2 thoughts on “The Baby Names Khaza & Islah

  1. Islah reminds me of the name Isa, short for the Spanish pronunciation of Isabella. I can see Islah catching on, although I prefer Isa. (Pronounced like Lisa without the L. ) Islah sounds pretty, a complete name (not a shortening of a longer name), and unusual and exotic. Islah also reminds me of Isla which is becoming more popular.

  2. I could see it catching on, too. But, if so, I bet it would annoy anyone associated with the name Isla, because it would just add to all the pronunciation confusion.

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