Thursday, January 6, 2011

Early 80s Hip Hop Slang, for the Uninitiated

(click pic to zoom in on the Hip Hop Glossary)

Related to Elements: Slang, Old School, B-Boying,
There is only one good reason anyone should buy K-Tel Record's corny vinyl compilation "Breakdance" and that's for the equally corny (but in a good way) poster. While the vinyl may have a few easy to find, nostalgic classics on it, it's pretty worthless for dropping a needle on it.

The poster, on the other hand, not only features the legendary New York City Breakers posing in various phases of B-Boying classic moves, but it also comes complete with step-by-step instructions, and a special warning about the health hazards associated with "Breakdancing"

Really, who's gonna go see a medical specialist before performing the wave, just to be on the safe side?

(click image for larger pic)

Side thought: That reminds me, I remember when my mom said I could never breakdance or I'd break my neck like 'that one guy' did when he attempted a head spin. (I never did find out who that one guy who broke his neck was, by the way.)

Anyway, the best feature of this poster is it's Hip Hop Glossary. Keep in mind, when this LP was made, Hip Hop was so new and it was all the rage. Even football players and TV cartoons were jumping on board the Hip Hop bandwagon. All this Hip Hop vocab must have been very confusing to the outsiders trying to make sense of all the new jargon. Well, lucky for the uninitiated, K-Tel had their backs covered.

Except for misspelling "Diss", I think they did a very amusing job. Notice some of the dead slang that's defined.


(Courtesy of the K-Tel Records Poster which accompanies the LP "Breakdance")

BITE - (verb) to copy, duplicate or reproduce without consent; to steal ideas from others.
Ex: “We were doing those steps way before them. They must have bit our moves.”

CHILL – (verb) to chill, chillout, chillin’, the act of calming down, keeping under control, staying cool.
Ex: “Yo, chill out!” “I’m just chillin’!”

CRITICAL – (adjective) describes an action poorly done, a state of poor condition.
Ex: “His graffiti piece was all critical, looked like a chimpanzee did it. He Breaks all critical.”

DIS – (verb) to disrespect another person, to show no respect or regard for another person’s feelings or property.
Ex: “When you talked about my girl, you really dissed me man.”

DOG – (verb) to overuse, abuse, spoil through excess.
Ex: “He dogged his sneakers. They were all critical looking.”

FRESH – (adjective) the hippest, the newest, the most together and unique. On time, well conceived and executed. Beautiful, aesthetically pleasing.
Ex: “The new Mercedes compact is fresh!” “I want that record with the fresh beats!”

FRONT-FRONTING – (verb) to be irresponsible, to not show up, to break a promise.
Ex: “I was supposed to meet her here at 8:00, but it looks like she’s fronting on me.”

HOMEBOY, HOMEGIRL – (pronoun, noun) comrade, companion, guys and girls from the neighborhood.
Ex: “Yo man, let him in. He’s one of my homeboys.”

JERK – (verb) to cheat, or to fool someone.
Ex: “He told me 50%, but I only got 10; I got jerked.”

MAX OUT – (verb) a friendly term for parting with ease or saying goodbye.
Ex: “Ok, I’ll see you tomorrow. Yo, Max Out.”

RUN – (verb) to repeat in excess, to be redundant, to use over and over.
Ex: “That song was all right until they started running it.”

SQUIGGLEY – (adjective) nerdy, unhip or unattractive.
Ex: “I don’t want to go out with that girl, she’s too squiggley.”

TRACK – (noun) freeze move in which breaker ends in a bridge with stomach up, supported by the hands and feet.

UPROCK – (noun) dueling dance between 2 breakdancers, where the dancers mimic fighting and score points by getting non-contact blows or hits in his first.

WACK – (adjective) describes something poorly done or in bad taste, awkward, clumsy, offbeat.
Ex: “That break move was wack!” “He’s the wackest DJ I know.”

WORD – (noun) an affirmation, a term to acknowledge or support a statement.
Ex: “That girl is fine. Word. Do you want to be the best? Word, you know it!”

I think some of those phrases are long overdue for a comeback. For example, "Max Out". Why don't people go around saying, "Yo! Don't get critical on me, squiggley homegirl! I'm maxin' out right now! " That's a real loss when Hip Hop rejected those words in time, but I guess that's just the way it goes.

Regardless, this LP has been out of print for a long time, so if you do find it used, make sure the poster is in the sleeve before purchasing it, this piece of history is well worth the sacrifice of buying a terrible record.


  1. (( Ease back,Cold Chillin,Maxin,and Relaxin,Fresh,Fresh to Death,copacetic,Word Life,Word is Born,illin,,and many others I could mention.We definitely need to get back to the essence...back to some Peace My Brother,Peace My Sister,Peace Family,and Peace beloved.

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