Profound Hip Hop Quote #13: Homage to Philly Edition

2 Apr

“PSK, we’re makin that green
People always say, “What the hell does that mean?”
P for the people who can’t understand
How one homeboy became a man
S for the way we scream and shout
One by one I’m knockin you out
K for the way my DJ kuttin
Other MC’s, man, they ain’t sayin nothin
Rockin on to the brink of dawn
I think, Code Money, yo time is on”

—Schooly D, “PSK, What Does It Mean?”

When people think about the origins of hip hop music, they immediately think of New York.  Of course, much respect is due to New York; however, there were and are many talented rappers who hail from Philadelphia.  This month, I would like to pay homage to some of the Philly rappers from the past and present who have made an impact on this culture and on me.

I was in grade school when Schoolly D released the song, “PSK, What Does It Mean?” in 1986, yet I will never forget the first time I heard it.  While I was outside playing, this guy walked by with a huge boom box on his shoulder with the base blaring for all to hear.  The instrumental was alluring, and the way the guy was rapping over the beat was so mesmerizing; I couldn’t help but bop my head and try to sing along to the catchy hook.  Even though the song was not played within my household, I heard it booming from people’s cars and radios at school, in the neighborhood and at the park.

Are these lyrics the most profound; not quite, but it’s the hidden message behind the entire song that is extremely notable. When I was very young, I learnt about acronyms and thought it was so cool that this guy was using them in a song.  Years later, I learned that PSK did not stand for what I thought it stood for: according to the song.  It actually represented the Park Side Killas, a street gang from West Philadelphia.  I grew up in a neighborhood called Logan, in Northwest Philadelphia and was only a naïve sheltered child, so I knew nothing about  gangs nor West Philadelphia.

In researching further, I found that Schoolly D’s song  is often recognized as one of the most influential gangsta rap songs and played a significant role in the molding of future gangsta rappers such as NWA and Ice-T.  PSK is a perfect example of how some people become so attracted to the beat that they either do not take the time or just are not mature enough to know what the song is really talking about.

When is the last time that you did more than listen to the beat an actually analyze the song?  Do you just automatically sing along or hop out on the dance floor without knowing what the artist is really saying?  Even though I do consider the song to be a classic, Schoolly D taught me a valuable lesson; a song is more than a solid beat and words.  Dig deeper to find the true meaning.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
An acronym is a word created from the first initials in a series of words such as PSK which means Park Side Killas.

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