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Media

March 14, 2008

The Times Gets Jiggy With It

Some—the old, white and privileged, mostly—would take umbrage at the suggestion that the mainstream media is still the firm province of the old, white and privileged. But consider the way the New York Times chronicles terms both pop cultural and rap-related. Channeling everyone's hopelessly-out-of-touch grandparent, the Times sees fit to highlight each modern vernacular curiosity it comes across, typically years late to the game, in a manner equal parts patronizing and amusing. Our current favorite comes in the Times' exclusive piece on Ashley Alexandra Dupré, one of ex-Governor Spitzer's partners in (state-funded?) bliss.

From the Times:

On the Web page is a recording of what [Dupré] describes as her latest track, "What We Want," a hip-hop-inflected rhythm-and-blues tune that asks, "Can you handle me, boy?" and uses some dated slang, calling someone her "boo."

Comment: A double-whammy. By spelling out "rhythm-and-blues"—as opposed to the far more common "R&B"—the Times suggests we aren't familiar with a term that's been in mainstream use for decades; apparently Times readers have never been the types to play Al Green, Boyz II Men, or Omarion. (As an aside, it's laughable that some editor thought "Can you handle me, boy?"—a rhetorical device present in, say, 50% of all R&B songs—uniquely revealing enough of Dupré to place it in the article). Still, the best part of this paragraph is the willy-nilly inclusion of "boo," which serves absolutely no purpose other than showing off The Times' familiarity with "dated slang."

After a little digging, Gelf has unearthed a litany of awkward rendezvous the Times has had with hip-hop. To paraphrase Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.: Let's do the damn thang:

Rappers Are Raising Their Churches' Roofs:

At Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale, Queens, on a recent Friday night, Adam Durso, the church's youth pastor, raised a microphone in exaltation. "Yo, God is so ill," he shouted, using a hip-hop term of praise.

A Big Bet for the Godfather of Rap:

Meanwhile, Mr. Simmons is starting a management company to secure endorsement contracts for professional athletes. He is also planning to open a modeling agency and to start Phat, a line of hip-hop-related clothing. ("Phat" is a hip-hop term roughly synonymous with "extraordinary"—that is, even greater than "def.")

Hot Wheels Function or Fashion?:

The scene metamorphosed into ''kind of a floss-fest,'' notes R. J. de Vera, a tuner pioneer who oversees his own performance-oriented brands RO-- JA and Motegi Racing. ''Flossing'' is a hip-hop term that means showing off, a big part of the sensibility that shaped the ''dub'' market. Dubs (old slang for $20 bags of marijuana, or ''double dimes'') are 20-inch rims, and you'd want a much bigger car than a Civic for a wheel that size.

Drawling Devotion to Snug Britches:

Only a few years ago "badonkadonk" was considered strictly hip-hop slang—sly onomatopoeia for the imaginary sound made by a decidedly nonimaginary asset. It was used by the African-American comedian Tracy Morgan, as the single-minded Spoonie Luv, on Comedy Central's "Crank Yankers." Missy Elliott played with the pronunciation when she rapped, "Keep your eyes on my ba-bump-ba-bump-bump/And think ya can handle this ga-donk-ga-donk-donk." And the rapper Twista tried to cash in with a song called "Badunkadunk" in early 2004.

Boldface Names: Better the Loop Than the Nose:

''Yeah, I love this stuff,'' said Mr. James, who is but 18 years old and whose contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers is but slightly under $13 million.
He gestured to a friend with fair hair and freckles.
''Actually, my boy PATRICK SWAYZE brought me out,'' he joked, as the friend gave an embarrassed laugh.
Then, using the rap slang for style, ''This ain't my stee-lo.''

Edison Schools Inc. Faces Tough Sledding in the Philadelphia Takeover

Mr. Whittle's bow ties have been getting the Big Dis (the hip-hop term for ''disrespect'') in bars, living rooms and churches all over Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer described the neckwear as a ruse designed to make Mr. Whittle seem like a kindly professor instead of ''a sly and cunning media mogul, a fox in the Cat in the Hat's clothing.''







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Comments

- Media
- posted on Mar 14, 08
keith h.

god is so ill and jebus is flippity-floo

- Media
- posted on Mar 20, 08
Sierra

This article made me chuckle.
I woke up at 2
Im drinking coffee, what are you up to?


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