Good news for perplexed suburbanites: a new site called UnderstandRap.com lets experienced rap interpreters explain difficult urban slang to hip-hop neophytes. I called up founder Bill Buckholz to chat about the site. While I was at it, I figured I'd get him to help us out with some rap puzzlers.
What moved you to create UnderstandRap.com?
I've always enjoyed listening to rap, but I started to realize that I didn't understand a lot of the lyrics. Sometimes it was slang that I thought I understood, but it didn't make sense in a particular context. Other times it was references to certain events that took place that I wasn't aware of. There were also a lot of clever metaphors that I thought people could be missing, and I couldn't find anywhere to go that had explanations for a lot of the terms I was confused about.
Are you especially qualified to explain rap slang?
I don't claim to be an expert — the site is for my benefit too. I put a lot of terms and explanations on the site as an example of how it works, and I hope people with better explanations submit them. The site is set up to allow the community to get involved and to serve as an outlet for rap experts to have fun explaining what certain things mean to the rest of us.
Nevertheless, since you're a prolific rhyme explainer on the site, I've gotta test you with some tough lines.
I could take guesses at what they mean, but I'd probably be way off.
We'll start off easy with some Cam'Ron:Space in Baltimore/Place the order, replace the quarter y'all/The fiends are chasing waterfalls.
I don't know, but I'm pretty sure this isn't about offering to pay someone back 25 cents for a phone call they made ordering tickets to the Baltimore space museum and then mentioning that drug addicts are big TLC fans. . . . Maybe I should've paid more attention to The Wire.
Next, some spiritula rhymes from Raekwon:Chill God, yo the son don't chill Allah/What's today's mathematic son? Knowledge God.
Now we'll get serious with some MF Doom:Doom brung that bum/There goes that news van again, act life you knew like Toucan Sam and 'em.
You have no idea what's going on in the neighborhood; reporters were just here interviewing people after a crime, and you pretended to know what was happening as if you were friends with Toucan Sam, spokesbird for Fruit Loops cereal who "follows his nose."
Slim Thug:I'm slidin' on the glass/Got butter on my ass.
I'm high on meth and somehow managed to make a mess in the kitchen?
Finally, some Kool Keith to get your mind really working:The golden mummies make a statement/Ya chick piss on the couch/Golden dogs roam around the house/With navigation connected to ya bitch eyebrows.
This reminds me of trying to read Finnegans Wake by James Joyce — hip-hop stream of consciousness?
Now, some spoilers for the curious. Cam is saying it's time to restock his Baltimore operation because the crackheads are fiending (indeed a reference to TLC). Raekwon is deploying some Five Percenter jargon. Doom is just being Doom, though I think Bill got it somewhere close to right. Slim Thug is probably talking about his car, who the hell cares. Kool Keith is a crazy person.
Bill asked me to make it clear that his guesses were made in fun — anyone with real info on what the hell Kool Keith is talking about can register on the site and post an explanation.