The singer - who recently topped the BBC's Sound of 2012 list - confessed that he thought about switching to a number of various monikers because he was worried about using his real name.
Kiwanuka told the Daily Star: "I was insecure that Michael Kiwanuka sounded like a world music artist. I thought people would pigeon-hole me before I'd got started. I didn't think people could pronounce it.
"But the other names I considered weren't that serious – Michael K sounds like a dance producer alias."
He added: "It's made my family proud. But I remember growing up as a Spurs fan – I couldn't see Kiwanuka being on the back of a shirt. That's when I first realised I wasn't just another English kid, that I was a bit different."
The star recently hinted that he may record a collaboration with Jay-Z in the near future, after the hip-hop mogul's people got in touch with him.
> Michael Kiwanuka: 10 facts about the BBC's Sound of 2012
Watch the music video for Michael Kiwanuka's 'Home Again' below: