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Thursday, January 19, 2006

What's Wrong Wit Chew?

Whilst enjoying cockney poetry yesterday I had to ask myself if I had a double standard with my general hatred of rap music, whose simple rhyme structures and convenient bending and manufacturing of words reminds me that illiteracy shouldn't be celebrated. Word has it Layer Cake should be subtitled for American audiences while The Harder They Come is subtitled from Rasta to English. I have no problem with either of those because they're dialects. Is ebonics a dialect or slang? I lean towards slang when it comes to rap, which makes up words to fit and works to create new expressions with an overreaching desperation.

At my gym, L.A. Crapness, they now play a music channel that continuously repeats 20 songs. They've bettered the mendacity of the top 40 by half. Twice a workout I get to hear "Dirty Little Secret" and a slow-jam, loud clap hip hop song where the woman keeps singing "Wit Chew" (upon which an angel gets his wings). Sometimes I'll respond by saying "Bless You" to nobody in particular. So, as I hear "Wit Chew" this morning I realize it's wrong of me to enjoy an Oi poet saying Ree-Nay-Since instead of Renaissance while looking down on wit chew. Then, then, she croons the most beautiful "with you" I've ever heard and I know it's a lie. Street my ass.

One more rant about rap. The KKK couldn't have come up with a better scheme to keep minorities uneducated, poor and angry. Only the Taliban treats women with more contempt. Excel!.. I mean, Word!!

1/20/06 update: People dare debate my rightitude on this issue?! Well!! All I need to know about (c)rap I learn from sitting at traffic lights next to cars blasting it.


Blogger Ratface said...


My new favorite ebonic words are:
Dug (in place of dog)
and ceyur (in place of cellular)

11:46 AM

Blogger Robert G. said...

In terms of dictionary def, I'm not sure, but I'd think that slang implies a more self-conscious approach to word coinage, so I'd say rap qualifies.

Of course there's no right or wrong to any of this; language is fluid, and the goal is communication. But as the wise man said, culture is to a certain extent war, and one man's expression is another man's infringement.

I don't usually give a shit about this kind of thing, but being a Canuck of my general background and age you really notice how much we've been Americanized in recent decades. When I was a kid, we said "ass" or "bum," now the little angels say "butt." Minor league stuff, yes, but the pressure's there, and it's amazing how old this can make you feel before you're even a middle-aged crank.

I mention this 'cos Mr. Shiff has been known to take the odd (good-natured) jab at my manner of writing, and he's not alone. But how the frig are you supposed to talk and write when you're a middle-class, early middle-aged white guy from Don Mills? I'd rather be a freak than a poser anyday.

Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean...

12:34 PM

Blogger Emerson said...


I've only written to you that you use a lot of words. That you're from Canada is your own problem. If you were 3,000 to the right your country would now be called the former republic of Canadistan.

12:59 PM

Blogger Robert G. said...

3000 what? Hectares? Chains? Roods?

THE POINT IS that it's easy to get your back up when there's an implied pressure to accept one subculture, be it generational, class-based or whatever, as being more worthy of societal "space" than another. You don't have to be a reactionary to want a little give-and-take.

1:32 PM

Blogger The BS said...

While I'm not going to evangalise on the merits of rap, judging the genre by what you've been exposed to in mainstream television/radio etc is a little like measuring punk by Good Charlotte and Simple Plan.

5:33 PM

Blogger Ratface said...

WAIT, good charlotte and simple plan aren't the only punk bands?

8:01 AM

Anonymous Ishabaka said...

Just listen to the words of JayZ's hit "Big Pimpin" - there is more hate and stupidity than a whole album of Skrewdriver. And this guy is celebrated as a paragon of the rap community. Yeah, I've listened to the backpacker rappers, and like de la Soul but on the whole Em is right. ( and guilty of BEING WHITE! )

11:56 AM

Blogger Robert G. said...


Sorry for hijacking the thread here, but indulge me. IIRC, some moons ago in the very comments boxes of this fine blogging establishment, you gently mocked me for using the expression "getting one's hackles up," which I'd have thought was in general use. I assumed you thought I was being affected.

I was trying to speak to your post, not to call you out as a big meanie. Obviously, people make judgments about others on the basis of their speech/writing, but unless you know where those people are coming from you can't be sure if they're wannabees or no. I'm sure a lot of "working class" Brit bands are no less guilty of pretense than LA rap crews.

12:45 PM

Blogger Richard said...

"I've got blood on my *#@! cuz I just f*!@ed a corpse."


1:46 PM


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