"Mouthpiece" – means I'm quite the quick talker (what a spitter!)
May 15, 2010 12:12 AM   Subscribe

Bay Area Slang Top 100 (The Grinch song). From Rafael Casal — 100 Bay Area slang terms in under 3 minutes.

Originally from Oakland and Berkeley (East Bay all day!), at age 18 slam-poet-turned-rapper Rafael Casal was the youngest poet to appear on Russell Simmons' Def Poetry on HBO.

His videos range from more polished (both simple, shot-in-a-studio and with sets and actors) to raw and unedited. (He can also be found holding forth about things you do not want to know about your girlfriend's ex and the difficulties of dating via IM.)

While some common hip-hop tropes appear in his work (hustling, pimping, untimely violent death, sweet Cali chronic, and cars that go boom), he's also been getting recognition for his examination of feminism and misogyny. With fellow members of the Getback Crew, he's continued to consider issues such as "the intersection of race, class, gender, etc. in times of national crisis and what happens when people are pushed to the edge" in War Peace: The One Drop Rule. Directed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, the collaboratively-written and -performed play premiered in San Francisco and recently had a special presentation in New Orleans.

These days he's acting as Creative Director of First Wave at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the first university program in the country centered on spoken word and hip-hop culture, and, in his spare time, remixing the University of Wisconsin fight song.

If you like what you hear, you can download his first and second albums and the Getback mixtape here.

posted by Lexica (22 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
And because I got tired of lunging for the pause button to read the definitions, I transcribed the onscreen titles and captions for the Grinch song. So if you can't read fast enough to understand everything in real time but don't want to test your pause-button reflexes, here you go.
posted by Lexica at 12:14 AM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe it's 'cause I'm too old and out of touch, but what's the etymology of "Flight to Boston (Flite-tu-bos-tun) = The act of oral sex"?
posted by now i'm piste at 12:55 AM on May 15, 2010

Because Boston sucks? (rimshot!!!)
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:58 AM on May 15, 2010

but seriously, when I saw the first reference to "Boss" in Lexica's transcription...
"Boss (Boss) – noun – To be a leader | a kingpin | the man in charge"
I thought, 'this is not slang, it's a dictionary definition'.
But then the second time...
"Boss (Boss) noun – 1. To be a leader | a kingpin | the man in charge. 2. The act of oral sex."
Okay, as in 'showing someone who's boss?' maybe... which makes "Flight to Boston" a Flight to Boss-town.

but seriously, considering how San Franciscans hate having their town called "Frisco", how is he ever gonna get away with calling it "The Sco"???
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:02 AM on May 15, 2010

and with "Swoop (Swoop) – verb – To pick someone up in a vehicle", The Bay Area is not a welcoming place for a Swell Foop without a car...

still, there are a lot of UGOTOs* in this top 100:
"I See You (Eye-See-U) – To acknowledge someone elses [sic] hustle"
"Scratch (Sk-ratch) – noun – Currency | Money
Bread (Bred) – noun – Currency | Money" (these two slang terms for money are older than I am, and I'm OLD)
"You Already Know (U-Al-Reh-Dy-No) – A saying that conveys certainty in an action or statement"

And apparently, the Bay Area has more terms for oral sex than Eskimos have for snow... but if I ever thought of "Skully (Skul-lee) – noun – A female who performs oral sex casually", I would've watched The X-Files SO differently...

*Uncanny Grasp Of The Obvious, which is MY contribution to slang
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:14 AM on May 15, 2010

This list is hexa ridiculous.
posted by zippy at 2:11 AM on May 15, 2010

well, just to keep track of the etymology: in my circle of friends; "by the way" has turned into bee tee dubs. B. T. Double U (Dubs). Let's see where it goes! Probably nowhere.
posted by bam at 2:14 AM on May 15, 2010

and I've noticed "by the way" in english, used as a filler within local dialect conversation among factory workers in Faridabad. WTF hasn't seeped in yet...
posted by infini at 2:28 AM on May 15, 2010

Lexica, this is an awesome post. Thanks.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 6:29 AM on May 15, 2010


Let me clear my troat.

All this jangle you all are poppin and droppin, it's just

Bay Area slang invented the talk yur talkin.

In April of '94, I moved out to Oakland to work in SF at WIRED magazine. Though we had emailed back and forth (something noteworthy in nine-fo)I met with Kevin Kelly, twice, plus an assortment of others. It didn't work out. Instead, I started writing in the offices down under: MIGHT and bOING bOING. This was what 3rd Street people called The Multi-Media Gulch. And I hung out and begged for work more than actually worked. But it interesting with great parties.

But a friend in NYC insisted I check out a friend of his at a magazine in Berkeley called 4080 Hip-Hop Magazine. Within a few months, I was a director at this soon-to-be-important hip-hop title.

In '94, Bay Area hip hop was going international. But it really didn't need to. Everyone was selling and buying tapes and CDs right there. In fact, everyone had loot because they were all keeping their skrilla: Distributing your own music and labels meant keeping your own lettuce. Plus, the broccoli! The weed in the Bay Area was plentiful, expansive, expensive, and in demand. People had the cheese to part with.

So there are young artists street hustling tapes out of the back of their rides, 100,000 units every time the new record dropped. Mac Mall was 17 when he sold his first 100,000. Meaning, there are 17-year old skrillionaires who didn't own record companies a dime.

At this time, here's who was poppin on the streets: E-40 and the Click (D-Shot, B-Legit, Suga-T), JT the bigga figga, Mac Dre (always Mac Dre, next to Too Short, the Godfather for realz), Masta P, and literally thousands of others. You wouldn't believe it. The cultural impact of Bay Area hip-hop is global. It was the greatest scene, equal to NYC in '79. Remember, Tupac is from here. That's real.

But what distinguished this scene from all your other scenes out there—I mean aside from the fact that kids from Crescent Park in the Rich were hooridin in Lexi and holdin fat stacks—was and is the slang.

Unless you have been to Jamaica and been around patois you will be out of your element on the streets of the the Yay Area. And yes I mean the whole damn Yay.

The Bay Area invented the slang-bangin of today. Game recognize game. For sheezy. For shillzle. For rilla. For eva. Hella.

E-40 used to keep a mirror in his pocket to practice looking hard, and was markin captain sav-a-hoes wayo back in the dayo in the Yayo, I thought you knew, playo?

And all this outof pocket chatter and rattle and flamboastin on this slight weight but potentially Federal track with the zooted production in Picasa's (eponysterical) FPP? That's five-hours ago.

Trust me, bruhbruh, the Yay Area keeps you on your toes. You either gotta get that Bay Luv or you gotta go. Don't be a peanut, bossman. Remember, game is meant to be sold not told, and real playaz don't hate they elevate. Ain't nothing to a giant. Ya da mean?
posted by humannaire at 6:54 AM on May 15, 2010 [22 favorites]

This sorta smacks of grunge speak, doesn't it?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:51 AM on May 15, 2010

Funny how so very little of this made it to the Peninsula, yo.
posted by dws at 9:31 AM on May 15, 2010

onefellswoop: not everyone hates "Frisco."
posted by zsazsa at 10:21 AM on May 15, 2010

Drama like a comma
Just reminds me it ain't over
And Pops told me
"Rafa, keep watchin' over your shoulder"
All the rearviews, where to's
Split down the Swisher and
There you are
Keep the smoke in the car!

-"Hustler", As Good As Your Word
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:11 AM on May 15, 2010

WORD. Thanks Lexica.
posted by neitheror at 12:53 PM on May 15, 2010

yadidaholla Lex, human, yadadamean
posted by baserunner73 at 2:28 PM on May 15, 2010

Fail for not including "hella".
posted by humboldt32 at 3:05 PM on May 15, 2010

Big L - Ebonics
posted by rxrfrx at 3:27 PM on May 15, 2010

Not as hellof fresh, nor as icy, as I would have liked.
posted by chavenet at 3:30 PM on May 15, 2010

but seriously, considering how San Franciscans hate having their town called "Frisco", how is he ever gonna get away with calling it "The Sco"???

I suspect most people from The Town don't care much what people from The City think.

Fail for not including "hella".

I'm gonna have to fall back on "Does a fish think about water?" for this one... He does break it out in this cameo appearance.
posted by Lexica at 6:10 PM on May 15, 2010

Fantastic post! Nicely done. :)
posted by zarq at 8:54 PM on May 16, 2010

Straight up: Rafa showed up at my bar at the fundraiser I was working last night. Just wandered up, and when I read his nametag, I looked up and said "Get back!"

He was quite amused by Bay Area has more terms for oral sex than Eskimos have for snow meme. Also, "Flight to Boston" does derive from "Boss", not because Boston sucks.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:09 AM on June 10, 2010

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