Tag: hip-hop

Dead presidents is slang referring to US banknotes.

Hip-hop’s “dead presidents”

Whenever election time rolls around in the US, I think… I’m out for dead presidents to represent me. Say what?! Rather than get mixed up in all that political business, I’m here to talk about the slang dead president. The following lyrics are from “The World is Yours”, a song from the hip-hop artist Nas on […]

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aight

Feelin’ “aight”?

In the early 90s hip-hop artist Doug E. Fresh released a single called “I-Ight (Alright)”. The song wasn’t what you’d call a smash hit, but I mention it today because the editors of the OED have just put its namesake aight into the dictionary. Looking at the entry, it seems that Mr. Fresh was a bit of a lexical trail-blazer in […]

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Hip-hop language

Ghost like Swayze: the use of ‘ghost’ in hip-hop

As we rolled on, I seen the patrol on creep, so we got ghost. —“Alwayz into Somethin’” , from N.W.A.’s Efil4zaggin (1991) For me, this lyric represents one of the great potentials of hip-hop. An otherwise unremarkable sentiment, when channelled through the mind and mouth of a deft MC, can become something poetic and memorable. […]

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Men playing basketball in a park.

Hip-hop and the word ‘baller’

The other day I had an earworm stuck in my head, an old rap song which goes:  Wanna be a baller, shot-caller, 20-inch blades on the Impala…  [N.B. 20-inch blades are wheels, and the Impala is a type of car] After mouthing that line to myself for a few hours, it occurred to me that […]

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Beastie Boys lyrics have even found their way into the OED.

Beastie Boys lyrics in the Oxford English Dictionary

Ever wondered what kind of mark Beastie Boys lyrics have made on the English language? Is it possible that any of these rhymes I grew up memorizing have found their way into the Oxford English Dictionary? With this question in mind I rocked up to my desk and began my search, which, I’m happy to say, yielded some […]

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Cassette

“The Dickens, reminiscent of Charles”: Boz and the language of hip-hop

“As the plot thickens, it gives me the dickens, reminiscent of Charles…” So unfolds the narrative in “SpottieOttieDopaliscious”, from OutKast’s 1998 album Aquemini, a cornerstone of late 90s southern hip-hop and one of my favorites. Last week, I listened to Andre utter these lyrics once again, and I wondered, what does it really mean to […]

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