According to research we have not actually conducted, approximately one in four rap songs in the early 90s included the word "props" in the title. Its most memorable use was probably gay rap lyrics alumni Black Moon's "Who Got Da Props," but it still pops up from time to time, most recently in the Dem Franchize Boyz song "Give Props." Excuse our grammar just now, we know using "the" and "dem" back to back isn't right, but we really had no choice.
You win, boyz, you're tougher than spelling and grammar. We hope you're happy.
Props is actually an abbreviated form of the word propers, which in turn is an abbreviation of the term "proper respect." But damn, saying "proper respect" is waaaay too labor intensive. What are we, made of free time? Where would it end? Complete sentences? Screw that noise. When would we find time to tag people in photos and whatnot? So who gets the props for this extraordinary time saving measure? Turns out, it's this lady, sort of:
No, that is not a time elapsed rendering of Lil' Kim in 25 years, it's Aretha Franklin, and roughly a metric ton of boob. One of the earliest popular uses of the term shows up in the Aretha Franklin classic, "Respect." She made the song popular, but it was actually written by Otis Redding, who included this sweet time saving lyric in the song...
"All I'm askin' in return honey is to give me my propers when I get home."
Little did Otis know, he would be changing the world. Soon, anyone demanding to be given their due respect was doing so with one little word. Twenty or so years later, things got even easier when it was shortened to props. With this much progress, it's just a matter of time before people are demanding their "pros" whenever they feel slighted.
#2. Gold Digger
On the surface, "gold digger" might not seem like hip hop slang at all. After all, it is a pretty common term that has been used to describe money grubbing skanks for as long as anyone can remember. But to get an idea of just how close the term's ties to hip-hop are these days, you need only to plug gold digger into your Google machine and check out the top results that are returned. Sitting high atop the number one and two spots are the video and Wikipedia page for the Kanye West song of the same name.
Suck it, Gold Digger (comics)!
Come on, "gold digger" as a slang term? Even the word "phat" has its own Wikipedia page for fuck's sake! Give it a few more decades, and encyclopedias will be reflecting on how Kanye West invented the term gold digger in 2005. But we all know he didn't. Hell, he wasn't even the first person to record a rap song called "Gold Digger" (that would be EPMD way back in 1990). So just how long has this lady-bashing term been on the pop culture radar? A lot longer than you would expect.
As film titles go, gold digger had a pretty lengthy run back in the 1920s and 30s. It first popped up on the silver screen as the silent film The Gold Diggers. The screenplay for the film was based on a Broadway play of the same name that premiered in 1919. That's 90 years of money grubbing floozies! The film was remade as a talkie in 1929 under the name The Gold Diggers of Broadway. The 1929 version was hugely popular, holding the title of top grossing film of all time from 1929-39. Despite the massive appeal, the film is now considered lost, as is the 1923 silent version. Someone should tell Netflix, they would totally replace that shit. But fear not, if you're curious, you can check out the the aptly titled 1933 remake Gold Diggers of 1933 wherever fine, old-timey movies are sold.
By that time, the Great Depression was in full swing, so it's bound to be a decent flick. Bitches was hungry! For further viewing, check out any of the sequels that followed, including Gold Diggers of 1935, Gold Diggers of 1937, Gold Diggers in Paris or Gold Diggers vs. Predator: The Final Conflict.
When was the last time you found yourself getting "crunk"? If you can answer that, please tell us what the fuck you were doing that constituted "getting crunk." Seriously, we have almost no idea what it means. In fact, it appears that nobody is quite sure what crunk means. Look the word up on Urban Dictionary and you get 308 definitions ranging anywhere from the seemingly plausible (high on chronic and drunk) to those that we only wish were correct (dressing up like a clown and break dancing).
But it's not just amateur Web scholars that have tried their hand at the game of defining crunk. The Merriam-Webster dictionary chimes in with this definition:
crunk: word of fluctuating meaning used during the 1990s in lyrics of the rap groups OutKast and Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz
So the official meaning of crunk is "word of fluctuating meaning"? Way to phone it in, Merriam-Webster. A slightly more respectable attempt at defining the word was made by southern "rapper" Lil' Jon, who described crunk as "a heightened state of excitement," before presumably adding "hwhat!?"
Despite the confusion over the exact definition, there is one thing we can tell you with absolute certainty about the word crunk. Well before mainstream America beat the word to death, it was showing up in places that are far less hood than you could ever imagine. Like where? Well, Dr. Seuss books seem like a good place to start.
The 1972 Dr. Seuss classic Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now, a children's book about the various ways in which Mooney is encouraged to get the hell out of Dodge, crunk is used to describe a type of car that may be used to make his long anticipated exit.
We may or may not have a bong that looks exactly like this.
The next crackeriffic use of the word, albeit with a different spelling (krunk), arrived via the first two seasons of Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Beginning in early 1994, O'Brien would encourage guests to insert the word krunk into their conversations, explaining that it was a multiple use expletive that censors did not know what to do with.
That beats the shit out of Dr. Seuss, so we're going to go ahead and declare Conan the official inventor of the word. We weren't able to locate any clips of the word being used on the show, but we did stumble upon this short clip of Ed Asner recommending made up curse words as a means of relieving stress. Seriously, that's just as good.
Now that you have your terminology down, see what else you need to do to become a hip-hop icon, in The Old School Hip Hop Course Guide. And then find out what mistakes to avoid in order to write that "bizzomb ass" song, in The 5 Worst Lyrics Ever to Ruin Good Rap Songs.