Tag: hip-hop


The emergence of the ‘stan’

Introduced to the world by rapper Eminem on 4 December 2000, the character Stan appears in the song of the same name, which tells the story of an obsessive fan that emulates Eminem. Stan writes letters to Eminem begging him for his approval, friendship, and acknowledgement after his love for Eminem distorted his entire reality, and when he receives no response his letters become increasingly hostile until he finds himself so angry

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New information on the origin of ‘twerk’ revealed in the OED

Twerking since 1820: an OED antedating

When the word twerk burst into the global vocabulary of English a few years ago with reference to a dance involving thrusting movements of the bottom and hips, most accounts of its origin pointed in the same direction, to the New Orleans ‘bounce’ music scene of the 1990s, and in particular to a 1993 recording […]

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Joe Dope - PM

Getting the dope on ‘dope’

Dope has lived a diverse slang life over the span of two centuries, only coming to its hip-hop adjectival sense of ‘good or excellent’ in the last 35 years. Dope as a stupid person was early American slang, first recorded in 1851, according to current Oxford English Dictionary (OED) evidence.

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hipsters traveling

The history of the word ‘hip’

James Brown was famously introduced by Lucas ‘Fats’ Gonder at the Apollo Theater in the early 1960s as ‘The Hardest Working Man in Show Business’, an epithet that stuck with Brown for his entire life. It is a fitting term for the word hip – the hardest working word in the lexicon of American slang. […]

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Photo via Flickr/Jason Persse

Dr. Dre and the language of gangsta rap

The hip hop world knows Dr. Dre as one of its most skilled producers and as a significant mentor to other prominent rappers – including Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and 50 Cent – but not as one of the genre’s most significant wordsmiths. However, Dre’s influence on the vocabulary of English is enormous even despite his […]

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money coins

How did bread, cheese, and dough come to mean money?

Back in the day, the hip-hop duo OutKast released a song called “Aquemini” that goes: Street scholars that’s majoring in culinary arts, you know, how to work the bread, cheese, and dough from scratch This is a little André wordplay, talking about hustlers out to earn their pay. When I heard this and clocked the […]

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I’ll teach you how to “stunt”

bling dollar

In 2003, 50 Cent and his fellow G-Unit rappers released a song called “Stunt 101”, in which they claim to “teach you how to stunt”. I’ve been listening to this song for years without a second thought, but now it occurs to me that this verb stunt is completely baffling–what on earth does it mean!? […]

LOL is older than you think

5 words that are older than you think

Language changes, whether we like it or not, and nothing changes faster than slang. Most of us are all too familiar with that distressing moment when we discover that we’ve changed from despairing of our parents’ inept use of slang, to being lost at sea ourselves. Suddenly everything is ROFL this and YOLO that, and […]

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