5 Interesting and Useful Facts I Learned From Hip-Hop


Between slanguage and actual facts, hip-hop saved my life. That isn't true, nor does it make sense. But I'm being grandiose. And I'm a hot nigga. I've been that way since about a week ago. Also, I've learned that slang is still evolving. For instance, I've spent a considerable enough amount of my lifetime around the pharmaceutical arts. I have never heard anybody refer to slanging crack as making a baby. However, that's a thing now. If you out in these streets trying to make a baby, you are out here slanging crack. The one good thing about hip-hop is that if you're interested in learning about drug nomenclature, it is literally all there for the taking. See Tang, Wu. Hell, Ghostface has an entire album named after a slang term for cocaine in Fishscale. Drug references are obvious. But here are some other interesting things I learned from hip-hop.


1. 5411s

I remember the first time I heard "5411s, size 7 in girls" on DMX's hit single "How's It Going Down".  If you're not from NYC, this made zero sense. If you tell me that you're from Boston and it made sense to you, I will call you a lie to your face. By now, and because folks were lost, most of us found out that Princess Reeboks retail for 49.99, and plus tax, in NYC, they came to $54.11. This is useful knowledge in case you're in NYC and want to buy some shoes; you know exactly how much you need to show up with. Or at least how much you needed in the 90s. I don't know if things changed.

2. Predicate Felon

In 2005, G-Unit hypeman and weed carrier extraordinare, Tony Yayo, released an album called Thoughts of a Predicate Felon. Before this album was announced, I'd never heard the term predicate felon. While it clearly exists in the legal realm, I never had a reason to learn about it. According to NY State Law:

Pursuant to New York Penal Law Section 70.06, for one to be deemed a predicate felon or second felony offender, one must have a prior felony conviction in the past ten years. In the event you were incarcerated or on probation, the ten years starts from the completion of your incarceration. This only applies to felonies and not prior misdemeanors. Therefore, while a judge or prosecutor might take the prior misdemeanors into consideration when arranging for a disposition or determining a sentence, from a technical standpoint, the prior misdemeanors will not impact your sentence on a new felony (from a practical standpoint it often does).

Who knew? Good thing I never lived in New York. I got felonies. I don't have felonies.

3. 730

Remy Ma made a presumably common NY statement (I first heard it on Big L's "Ebonics" if memory serves correct) very popular when she rapped, "…I get my dogs to do you dirty, they all 730, rock a ski mask whether its June or February…" on the "Ante Up" Remix. Well, it turns out that 730 is a reference to the the Criminal Procedure Law 730, which determines whether a defendant is fit to stand trial by virtue of ordering a mental health examination. Effectively, a person that's 730 is nuts. Hip-hop is turning ninjas into medical professionals outchea. Plus, say you're in NYC and you're on your way to jail and you hear the term 730. You know you're finna Bellevue it up, thugsta.



4. 5150

The Luniz had a song called "5150". I was always curious about that. It turns out that in California, it's a mental code as well. Not only did they give us the most important weed smoking mandate of all time, they taught us a little bit about mental health. To wit:

Section 5150 is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) (in particular, the Lanterman–Petris–Short Act or "LPS") which authorizes a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person suspected to have a mental disorder that makes him or her a danger to himself or herself, a danger to others, and/or gravely disabled. A qualified officer, which includes any California peace officer, as well as any specifically designated county clinician, can request the confinement after signing a written declaration. When used as a term, 5150 (pronounced "fifty-one-fifty") can informally refer to the person being confined or to the declaration itself, or (colloquially) as a verb, as in "I have a possible 5150 here" or "(Someone) was 5150ed".


5. Boy/Girl

I'm going to cheat a bit. For those not in the know, and to quote, AZ on "It's a Boy Thing" from the Pieces Of A Man album, "…boy is the slang for dope (heroin), girl is cocaine…" I could easily spend 2,000 words talking about what you could learn about selling drugs from listening to hip-hop.


I'm amazed by how many people listen to drug rap (especially) but have no idea that when rappers talk about white girls, that bitch, that girl, etc that they're talking about selling cocaine. Either way, why is this useful? Since many have no idea what these things are, it's possible that many of you are riding around as accomplices and don't even know it. Learn your drug slang, people. If you're like me, quite a substantial number of people you have spent considerable amounts of time with are one traffic stop away from federal time. Don't ask me how I know.

Anyway, that was fun and educational. So what interesting and useful facts have you learned from hip-hop?

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.


Damon Young

Thing I learned years ago (with more to come later): In NYC slang, a razorblade — that some people apparently carry in their mouths — is called a "buck 50" because you'll need 150 stitches if you're cut by one.