Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 12 p.m.
We're down with rap, yo.
Flickr: NRK P3
Rap music fuses street slang with a heavy hip-hop beat, but the lyrical nuances are often too nuanced for our painfully Caucasian brain to decode. We grew up in the era of Biggie, Snoop, and Puff Daddy -- is he going by
a different name now? -- and you'd think we could decipher the tones our
home boys have put out there. Thank goodness for UnderstandRap.com, and its accompanying tome, which professes to offer "Explanations of Confusing Rap Lyrics You & Your Grandma Can Understand."
Our Grandma came of age in the Big Band era, which we're pretty sure has its fair share of sultry crooners, a bit of trombone and a giant spoonful of romanticism -- as opposed to a life of MAC-10's, being "a couple bands down," or having their "whole click stuntin'."
So, does she need the Understanding Rap book as bad as we do? We tested her on seven perplexing lyrics from Drizzy, Weezy and more.
1. Rap lyric:
"I just knew she was fine like a ticket on the dash
" - from Drake's "Fancy"
Grandma's definition: "This girl is bad news."
Real definition: "This is called a double entendre. The girl is fine as in good looking, and you also pay a fine when Popo leaves a ticket on your dashboard."
If Drake's after this fine lass, she's probably bad news -- but that's not what he's saying.
2. Rap lyric: "Naked ring finger, check. M3 beamer, check. Champagne range, triple white caddy." - from Drake's "Fancy"
Grandma's definition: "
Well, he might have wondered if she was married
because he checked the ring finger. He found out the car she was driving was a Beamer and loved that. Saw her and thought she was quite classy with the
champagne range and her parents had a triple white Caddy which means she's
Real Definition: "This gentleman is trying to say he is single and wealthy: no wedding band on his ring finger, and he owns a BMW M3, a light-colored Range Rover SUV and a very white Cadillac (white paint, white trims and white interior)."
Not bad, Grandma. We'll forgive that your answer doesn't take the self-referential aspect into account. Although missing the Range Rover reference is gonna cost you.
3. Rap lyric: "I'm more animal than this zoo allow." - from Lil Wayne's "Wasted"
Grandma's definition: "This is a very dangerous person."
Real definition: "Lil Wayne is stating that because he is such a "beast", even a zoological park would not be able to allow, much less contain him."
Not even stumped by the stilted grammar, Gran. Terrific!
4. Rap lyric: "Your girl might be sick but my girl sicker." - from Ludacris' "My Chick Bad"
Grandma's definition: "
I think they're talking about the same girl. Because
most girls are sick and he wouldn't really know sicker because he doesn't know
who they're talking about."
Real definition: "Your female companion is probably attractive and fantastic company, but unfortunately for you, she pales in comparison to the woman that I am courting."
Who are we talking about?
5. Rap lyric: "Trash talk to 'em then I put 'em in a hefty." - from Ludacris' "My Chick Bad"
Grandma's definition: "Dirty talk to them to get them compliant and I will
tie them up. Hefty is a trashbag."
Real definition: "She is going to exchange insults with her enemies, then murder them and stuff their bodies into trash bags. Hefty is a brand of trash bag."
Who says Grandma doesn't take out the trash?
6. Rap lyric: "I'm an uptown boy with Soho flava." - from Charles Hamilton's "Brooklyn Girls"
Grandma's definition: "That means he lives in the right part of town but he
doesn't mind slumming it."
Real definition: "I am a young man who resides in the North half of Manhattan, New York but I exhibit charactertics of people native to the Lower Manhattan neighborhood that lies South of Houston street."
Assessment: Actually, Grandma provides more context than the definition, but it's based upon Billy Joel-era New York City.
7. Rap lyric: "I get head, I need tail." - from Chiddy Bang's "Fresh Like Us"
"I know what it means. That means it's really easy for
me to get a BJ but I can't find anyone to do it the old fashion way."
Real definition: "Heads and tails are the two sides of a coin. "Head" is also a slang term for being fellated, and "tail" is a slang term for female genitalia. By "getting head" and "needing tail" the rapper both receives oral sex and desires to fornicate."