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]
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
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?
So today let’s check out another fun set of “top” names: the top rises. The names below are those that increased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next according to the SSA data.
Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year jumps in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Isa grew 240% and usage of the boy name Noble grew 333%.)
The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does get a lot better in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…
(Did you catch all the doubles? Tula, Delano, Tammy, Jermaine, and Davey/Davy.)
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about many of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it! Leave a comment and let us know what popularized Dorla in 1929, or Lauren in 1945, or Dustin in 1968, or Kayleigh in 1985, or Talan in 2005…