You've probably heard a word in a rap song, at least once, that left you wondering, 'WTF are they talking about?' Sometimes those words are 100 percent made up -- things you'll never find in the dictionary. But personally, my favorite slang terms are the ones that have legitimate meanings in everyday English, and represent something completely different in hip-hop songs.
This list, for example, was inspired by a few of my favorite co-workers who were a little bit confused by some of the below words. I'm just here to help.
If you heard Drake's hit "Know Yourself" for the first time, and felt bad for him because he was running through the 6ix sorting out the issues in his head -- then you weren't alone. But don't worry about Drizzy too much, he's all good. He's just running through Toronto with his boys, or his crew. "Woes" is a spin on "whoadie," which you may (or may not) remember from Southern rappers like Juvenile. And if you're a member of the OVO crew it also means "Working On Excellence."
Nope, nothing to do with electrical sockets. This one's been around foreva eva, and on Drake and Future's recent mixtape What A Time To Be Alive, they made a whole track about it, called "I'm the Plug." The "plug" is simply your "connect" or the supplier, who's going to provide all of the, er...contraband you might need.
Future doesn't have time to worry about grammar lessons -- apologize to your professor if that thought ever crossed their mind -- he's just got money on his mind. Lots of money. $100 means nothing to him because there's not even one comma. $1,000 is getting better and $1,000,000 is more like it. The more commas in that number, the more he'll be interested. So when he's f--king up some commas, he's just getting his money up way up, then blowin' it all.
Band, Stack, Rack
While we're on the topic of money, might as well throw in the very basics: A band, a stack, a rack = $1,000 in cold, hard cash. The minimum amount of money Juicy J will take with him to the strip club.
You'll hear this term scattered across hip-hop tracks, and Rich Gang even had a song called "7:30" last year, but rappers are never on time, so it has absolutely nothing to do with being punctual. In this case, it means that they're "going crazy." The term originates from Article 730 of New York State's Criminal Procedure Law, where a defendant's mental health has to be assessed before any legal proceedings can be brought against them.
Not the kind of baking that you learn from grandma. You'd be surprised at how many people thought Fetty Wap and his "Trap Queen" were in the kitchen whipping up lemon meringue pies for the whole fam. This is a pretty hefty amount of drugs intended for distribution.
An easy way to remember that these "pies" in question are not for dessert, is if they're being baked or sold from the trap house. A.K.A. the "bando," or the drug den.
There are multiple uses here, none of which involve something you can cop at Home Depot during home renovation. Most likely, a sizable quantity of cocaine, sometimes used to describe the painfully cold winters we're used to on the East Coast ("it's brick as hell outside today") and once in awhile, throwing a left hook at someone. (And, also getting your "weight" up has nothing to do with body mass either).
To be honest, I'm not sure how often this one gets used in real life. To me, it mostly means a pretty delicious brand of grapefruit soda that's very popular in the Caribbean, but definitely don't confuse it with "thing." You'll hear Drake using it often, with a West Indian-tinged accent to refer to the lovely ladies in his life.
Rappers aren't trying to prove that they can count past 10. On Migos' "F--k 12," for example, they're pulling an N.W.A. and referring to the police. "12" is something you'd usually yell if you see cops approaching. You've heard various forms of this, including "5-0" and "po-po," which are more popular on the East and West coasts. "12" was apparently inspired by a 1990s police drama TV show, based in Los Angeles called "Adam-12," but the term is more widely used in the south.
Don't mind me gagging. This is definitely not something you'll pay extra for at a fancy restaurant. It's a bodily excretion...that I won't say anymore about...and we can thank Nicki Minaj, Drake and Lil Wayne for making that a more popular term. Again, ewww.
BONUS: Some Chicago slang you've probably never heard, courtesy of Vic Mensa, in the video below.