Thursday, May 10, 2012

Is This English?

Slang culture, while prevelant in so many aspects of our culture, is most associated with hip hop music, likely because these terms they often come out of popular music. The ebonics of today's culture can be best examined through their use in popular rap songs. The best example of this is probably through a song discussed in class, Big L's "Ebonics". In this rap, he creates an entire lyric through defining slang terms. And while most of the terms he mentions aren''t ones that are broadly used, the song as a whole expresses how important slang has become in the language of music. But, I believe the best way to see the role of rap's ebonics in society is to look at the slang language in today's most popular songs, as ranked by the iTunes charts. 

For instance, one of the best examples is of the ever spreading popularity of the catch phrase "YOLO," which stands for you only live once. It came out of Drake's recent rap song, "The Motto." While not technically a slang term, it is a term developed as a part of the ebonics of todays culture. As well, popular rap/hip-hop artist Flo Rida, popularizes a slang term for male genitalia through his song "Whistle," ranked 19th. The hook on the song goes, "you just put your lips together and you come real close can you blow my whistle baby" (Whistle). 

Kanye West and Jay-Z's "Niggas in Paris," is one of today's best examples of ebonics because it both utilizes slang terms already implemented in our culture as well as introduces new words and phrases that have caught on since the releasing of the song. For instance, some slang terms that reflect our culture's already implemented ebonics include: "ball so hard," which has a range of meanings from having sex, spending money, or partying, "faded" meaning under the influence of drugs, "J's" which can stand for an edition of Air Jordan shoes, "whip," meaning car, and "French," meaning cursing.  Besides for implementing so many slang terms of today's culture, this song also created a new phrase that gained instantaneous popularity -"what's Gucci?" While this is probably a result of Kanye and Jay-Z's national (and international) fame, it is an excellent example of how rap music affects the ebonics of our society.

1 comment:

  1. Slang culture is indeed a large part of hip-hop, but there is a difference between slang and ebonics. To me, ebonics is African-American vernacular, or more of the way that a stereotypical black person talks, not necessarily particular words. Ebonics is more of a very racist, "black" way of talking instead of civilized grammar and enunciation. In this way, ebonics does exist in hip-hop, but the slang words such as YOLO and "ball so hard" are more of a slang language that is related, but different. Non-black people can say these slang words and not be accused of being or sounding "black."


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