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Name: Adam Bernard
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Hip-Hop Phrases We Could Do Without
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hip-hop has consistently been at the epicenter of what’s new and fresh, which is why it’s so odd that certain terms and phrases have stuck around longer than many artists have. In a culture that normally sees so much linguistic turnover that once anyone over the age of 35 has heard of a term it’s already been replaced, we still have some slang that has stuck around like gum on the bottom of a sneaker. This week I’m taking a look at some of the terms that won’t seem to go away, but that we could really do without.

Hater - Hater has become the catch-all term for artists to describe anyone who doesn’t like their work, and for fans to describe anyone who doesn’t like their favorite artist. This has made it so that in hip-hop the concept of constructive criticism is almost as foreign as an album without skits. In fact, I’m convinced many people have no clue what Common was talking about on “The 6th Sense” when he rapped “if I don’t like it, I don’t like it, that don’t mean that I’m hatin.” There is an in-between, an in-between most people are at when it comes to most artists, where they may not like their work, but they’re not actively hating on it. Just because someone doesn’t like an artist doesn’t mean they’re a hater, but in a time when egos are so large that everyone thinks they’re the greatest of all-time, anyone who says otherwise gets the hater label. It’s not correct, and it’s time for the term to fade away. There are still some haters out there who think certain artists can do no right no matter how great a song they may create, but those people are few and far between, and truthfully, for as difficult as it is to have a conversation about music with those folks, it’s equally as difficult to have a conversation with someone who thinks everyone who doesn’t like their favorite artist is a hater. You’re allowed to not like an artist, or an album. You’re allowed to have a differing opinion. This doesn’t make you a hater.

Keep it real - So many people define “keep it real” incorrectly at this point that it’s lost all meaning. “Keep it real” has nothing to do with dealing drugs. It has nothing to do with carrying guns. It has nothing to do with jail time. It has nothing to do with being shot. It has nothing to do with having stories about the streets in one’s rhymes. At it’s very core, “keep it real” is supposed to mean being true to oneself, whomever you may be. The Fresh Prince kept it real when people told him he couldn’t sell records being a clean rapper, but instead of listening to those critics he kept his lyrics clean and became a huge success. Keeping it real is supposed to be about honesty, but it’s morphed into this concept of a macho ideal that’s both unnecessary and more than a little dangerous to be held up as an example to the youth. Until artists actually keep it real, let’s retire “keep it real.”

No homo - Has any phrase been more overused in the past five years than “no homo?” Originally meant to be a fairly unwitty way of signifying the sentence, or action, one has just said or done is not meant to be taken in a homosexual way, “no homo” turned into an epidemic to the point where it’s now impossible to get through conversations with certain people without hearing it half a dozen times. The one thing I find interesting about “no homo” is that it shows that a lot of guys who don’t want to be thought of as homosexuals sure do find ways to construe nearly everything said to them, by them, or done around them, in a homosexual way. Never before has a phrase shown us people’s homophobia, and total obsession with homosexuality, simultaneously. How about we get rid of the phrase, the fear, and the line of thinking? Is that too much to ask?

You know what I’m sayin? - Although I love the poetic irony of the fact that when a rapper closes a sentence, or a statement, with “you know what I’m sayin” the answer to that question is almost always “no,” it’s that fact, and the fact that the phrase has become nothing more than verbal time filler, like the word “like” was for Valley girls, that puts it on this list. There’s no need to fill every moment silence with words, and most of the time that’s what “you know what I’m sayin” is doing. Take a moment and think about what you want to say, don’t just keep talking for the sake of talking. If you give that a try people might actually know what you’re saying. You know what I’m sayin?

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:59 AM  
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