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.
- 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?
- Kevin Gates Speaks On Naming His Album After Islah & Parenthood (Interview) [vid]
- Kevin Gates – Wikipedia
- Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, vol. 1, ed. by Josef W. Meri. New York: Routledge, 2006.
- Review: Kevin Gates Needs No Assists to Fuse His Yin and Yang on ‘Islah’