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Street Talk: Da Official Guide to Hip Hop & Urban Slanguage

Posted Apr 12 2006

Although it's been a minute since I've posted reviews, I still get a fair amount of requests to check out someone's work. Unfortunately, most of it is mediocre or flat out bad. However, some gems also come in, including this book by Randy "Moe Deezy" Kearse out of New York.

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Although it's been a minute since I've posted reviews, I still get a fair amount of requests to check out someone's work. Unfortunately, most of it is mediocre or flat out bad. However, some gems also come in, including this book by Randy "Moe Deezy" Kearse out of New York. While slang dictionaries seem to be fairly common, Kearse's entry into the fray has been the best one that I've seen yet. Beyond putting together a very good reference guide, he also had great follow up skills and sent me a proof of the book at his own cost. His business sense and professionalism was so refreshing that I had to mention it.

But getting back to the book, it's around 700 pages of information related to hip hop and urban slang, covering regions all across the United States. Kearse writes a useful intro that includes what he considers to be the origins of this slang and how this word play reflects people's experiences, thoughts, and emotions. In other words, he creates a context for the slang. He makes it very clear that he isn't creating slang, only documenting it. Furthermore, he leaves out language that is blatantly offensive (although you can mail Kearse at RANDYKEARSE@YAHOO.COM for more info on another version of the book, with a harder edge).

His entries are written in a scholarly fashion and include origins and examples for each word. He mixes up words with sayings, including the following examples

a blind squirrel gonna find a nut once in awhile phrase (southern sl.) new school

1. a sarcastic way to tell someone he/she was lucky

a duck adj. (e. coast sl) old school

1. one who is not cool or hip
2. one who is easily suckered, fooled, or manipulated. See also: lame
ex: I haven't seen that duck in years. You was a duck back in the days.

If Kearse had stopped here, I would've been plenty impressed. However, there's more... Besides including a list of nicknames and use of the 'Izz sound,' which he describes as "a very intricate part of using and talking Hip hop and urban 'Street' slang is the ability to alter the pronounciation of words by adding additional sounds or syllables. This system of word change allows users the opportunity to converse covertly around people who are unfamiliar with this tongue twisting kind of speech." Of course, he includes examples, e.g.

-Broad (broz-zoad)-leave them brozzoads alone.

As massive as this book is, there are a few omissions, simply based from my experience moving back and forth between Detroit and Oakland. That's to be expected given the regional nuances and constant evolution of slang. Nonetheless, this is an amazing book that should definitely be on your short list of purchases!

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