Tag Archives: Slang

Profound Hip Hop Quote #45: Ready to Camp Lo for that “Luchini”

26 Nov

“This is it (What?!)
Luchini pourin’ from the sky
Lets get rich (What?!)
The cheeky vines
The sugar dimes
Cant quit (What?!)
Now pop the cork and steam the vega
And get lit (What?! What?! What?!)”

—“Luchini” by Camp Lo

Camp LoWhile listening to the funky jazz influenced rap song “Luchini” by Camp Lo the other day, I pondered if it could still get hip-hop heads out of their seats rapping along with the chorus today.   If you were into rap music during the mid to late 90s, you should have definitely had Camp Lo in your rotation.  Both Sonny Cheeba (Salahadeen Wilds) and Geechi Suede (Saladine Wallace) possess lyrical finesse and laid back styles which caused me to be an instant follower of their music.  Actually, just this year, they partnered up with Pete Rock to release “80 Blocks from Tiffany’s,” but these brothers will always be known for  the classic song “Luchini.”

What is it that makes “Luchini” so profound?  It’s the vernacular the duo uses as they get heads grooving to their flow.  Almost every line of their rhymes requires some decoding and translating.  People might know the lyrics and be able to rap along, but if you were to ask them for an interpretation, many would draw blanks or make educated guesses and possibly be wrong.  First off, some might not even know what “luchini” is; however, if forced to conjecture, the assumption would be that it is about money since it’s “pourin’ from the sky.”  Also, the following line says, “Let’s get rich” which indicates that “luchini” is some form of riches.  In the hook alone, references are made to “cheeky vines,” “sugar dimes,” “pop the cork,” “steam the vega” and “get lit.” It’s no wonder the main word to follow the lines is “What!”  However, this is what I love about this song; a hip hop dictionary is in order for anyone who is not or was not up on their slang, vernacular or regionalisms during that time.

This song not only has a catchy, “rap along hook” and mellow yet funky beat, it also demonstrates how simple colloquialisms can be lost in translation; nevertheless, the slang terminology is what gives people their own unique way of communicating and definitely one of the key features that made this song stand out from the rest and stand the test of time.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

~Anonomz aka Tanya H. Franklin

Bonus English Lesson:
To use the word “What” after most of the lines in the hook is an example of a chant or in this instance and “call and response.”  It has a significant contribution to the song and works as a tool to engage the listeners.


Profound Hip Hop Quote: Week #8

26 Feb

“We spent the last year writing rhymes doing shows and chopping records
And traveled all around the world to spread the message
‘Cause ain’t no rest for the weary when it comes to my team
We only sleep on December the 32nd”

—Little Brother, “Not Enough”

At what lengths are you willing to go to achieve what you want out of life?  Will you fight for it at any cost even when it does not seem plausible or reachable?

Little Brother, one of the most talented rap duos birthed in the 21st century, did just that! Though Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh’s talents and tight lyrical abilities have been lauded by most underground artists and “hip hop heads,” they have often been unrecognized by “mainstream” hip hop listeners and radio stations.  Perhaps it was due to lack of promotion or lack of awareness on behalf of music listeners; nevertheless, for nearly ten years, these guys did not stop, and I loved being a part of their sleepless journey.

Interestingly, I did not hear “The Listening,” their debut CD until a few years after its original release.    Their sophomore album, “The Minstrel Show” was my first listening experience, and I did not know what to expect from such a controversial title.  However, I loved every song and interlude and understood why the CD had such an intriguing title. I then thought to myself, these guys from the “South” are flawless, and their rhyming skills ant witty usage of figurative language cannot be denied!

When I heard these lines in “Not Enough,” I knew that many people, not just underground “hip-hop heads” could relate to their plight.  Even though there is this constant struggle of being accepted and striving to reach their goals, they managed to persist.  Do you fight for what you want?  Once you realize what you want, do you establish clear, concrete goals, and apply yourself wholeheartedly to reach those goals.  No matter how unattainable they may seem to be or how mentally or physically exhausted you may be, there “ain’t no rest for the weary.”  While you sleep on your dreams another day goes by with no progress being made, and there is probably someone living out the dream you so desperately want to be a reality.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
Little Brother’s Phonte is the czar of figurative language  and witty rhymes.Perhaps is was his college education at North Carolina Central University or his exposure and affinity towards poetic techniques.  Regardless, the lines from “Not Enough” contain a compelling example of an allusion, which means an indirect reference.

We only sleep on December the 32nd.” As you may know, or should know, there is no December 32nd.  Why doesn’t Phonte simply say, “We never sleep?” He selects a date that does not exists to not only pique the interest of the listeners but to stimulate their minds requiring some critical thinking to realize this fact.  What makes this line so brilliant is he chooses a date that would be the last day in the year if it did exists, which suggests that he has worked all year non-stop yet still refuses to “sleep.”

Also, Phonte has a lyrical finesse when it comes to rhyming.  Some rap artists simply rhyme word like, “cat” with “hat” or even “cat” with “cat” again.  This would be considered an ab or aa rhyme.  Phonte, incorporates an aaba technique using slant rhymes.  This is where part of the syllable of a word rhymes through consonance (rhyming of consonant sounds) or assonance (rhyming of vowel sounds).  When one reads “records,” “message,” and “32nd” he or she may say, “that doesn’t even rhyme!”  On the contrary, it does.   Upon listening to the song, the “eh” sound in re-cord, mes-sage thirty-sec-ond can be heard.

Lastly, Phonte uses the word “sleep” which could easily be substituted with “stop.”  Why “sleep?”  Of course, it is being employed in this instance as slang, but Phonte has something much more meaningful in mind.  Why sleep when you can live out your dreams?

Profound Hip Hop Quote: Week #7

19 Feb

“You need git up, git out and git somethin’
How will you make it if you never even try
You need to git up, git out and git somethin’
Cuz you and I got to do for you and I”

—OutKast, “Git Up, Git Out”

How often do you complain or hear others complain about their job, lack of job, family life, social life or just life in general?  How many of these very same people, possibly including you, are doing “nothing” about it?

This classic rap song from OutKast’s debut album “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik” states what must be done emphatically.  One of the reasons I still love this song so much is that both “André 3000” Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton still live by it approximately 17 years from its release.  They have branched out into television, movies, cartoons at one point, fashion and even ballet.  Apparently, they made sure to “git up, git out” and do more than a little “somethin.”

Besides the smooth mellow beat, I still find myself singing along with this catchy chorus with the “in your face” meaning. Where are you in your life?  Where do you want to be?  What are “you” doing to get there? Yes, these past few years have been difficult for most during the recession, but there are so many lessons to be learned and opportunities of which to take advantage.  “How will you make it if you never even try?”

I love where I presently am today, and I am partly where I am because I did “something” to achieve my goals, and the other reason is because God was on my side as I sought out those goals.  Interestingly though, I’ve learned that whenever I ascertain that “something” for which I’m reaching, there’s always some bigger and better goal waiting out there for me.  We all have days when we wish our life circumstances were better, but we mustn’t  wallow in self-pity, be envious or covet what others have.  We “need to git up, git out and git somethin’.  Cuz you and I got to do for you and I.”  We’re all in this journey together.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:
OutKast’s name alone is a perfect English lesson because the correct spelling is Outcast.  These guys have fun with the English language by modifying the spelling of words and even changing the syntax of words with the title of this album “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.”  Actually, this is a common technique amongst some poets: e.e. cummings is one of the most famous to use this technique.  Also, OuKast embraces a southern slang vernacular in most of their songs since they are from Atlanta.  Instead of get, OuKast uses git, and instead of something, they use somethin’.

Furthermore, within the last line, there is not only a colloquialism with modified spelling but an object pronoun error which might have been deliberately done for the purpose of rhyming and to have the proper meter in the line.  Instead of “Cuz you and I got to do for you and I,” it should be “Because you and I have to do for you and me.”  Keep in mind that many rappers who are well-versed and considered lyricists tend to familiarize themselves with the standard grammar rules prior to breaking the rules in their lyrics.

Profound Hip Hop Quote: Week #5

5 Feb

“These cats drink champagne and toast to death and pain,
Like slaves on a ship talking about who’s got the flyest chain”

—Talib Kweli and Hi Tek, “Africa Dream”

February is Black History month; it is a time to reflect on the struggles and achievements of our ancestors and how they have impacted the lives of not just Black people but all people.  I’ve always been a fan of Talib Kweli since the days of Black Star.  He is a true lyricist and often tells it like it is while teaching lessons through his music.  The first time I heard “Africa Dream” I was lured in by the beat of the drum  and absolutely captivated by the lyrics.  Then I heard the last lines and kept pressing rewind thinking to myself, this is one deep brother…not just a common day rapper.

Slavery is a part of our history and always will be.  Nevertheless, it has not stopped many Blacks (Notice I say Blacks, not African Americans, because this includes the entire African Diaspora) from being successful and making positive contributions to society. Sadly, there are several of us who are so far removed from the past struggles of our people that we fail to acknowledge how far we’ve come and how much further we need to go.

Why glorify killing and celebrate playing a role in the deterioration of our communities?  Is it just in some peoples’ nature, or is it a learned behavior?  Is it all about survival and no longer about what is morally and ethically acceptable?    Maybe it’s all about the new slave masters: blood and drug money, so-called power and superficial respect.

Presently, we are faced with several racial, gender, culture, class and religious issues that involve all people.  What role are you playing in our future?  We must all be held accountable for our actions, both good and bad.  When you reflect on what you are doing or what you are saying will it be perceived as a detriment to society or something that is going to catapult us into greatness?

How absurd would it be if Kunta Kinte bragged about the chains that bounded him while he lay across from his friend on the slave ship? Are you really bragging about the “figurative” chains that are keeping you enslaved?  Are you chasing after that money at any cost: your family, your friends, your own life?   Maybe you’ve worn the chains for so long that you’ve become accustomed to them and simply consider them to be a way of life.  It’s not always easy for anyone, including me, to do the “right” thing while in chains, but we can all start searching for the keys to unlock ourselves from the mentalities and situations that have kept us enslaved.

Please feel free to share your thoughts

~Anonomz aka Tanya Harris

Bonus English Lesson:

Talib Kweli has a few attributes in these particular lines. The first is slang.  Using the word “cats” to represent “men” is one.  More than likely, Talib chose “cats” because people often make the reference to “cool cats.”  Of course, these “guys” think they are “cool.”  Talib also uses “flyest,” which can be considered the “best or as nice as it gets.  Lastly, it is no coincidence that these are the last lines presenting an excellent example of an analogy.  The guys glorifying death and pain are being compared to slaves in chains.  He could have used a different correlation; however, this connection with slavery makes the impact that much more powerful.