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XXL‘s ’90s Slang-tionary

XXL's '90s Hip-Hop Slang-tionary / Dictionnary

Believe it or not, there was a time when calling yourself “Big Willie” or “jiggy” was cool. That time was the 1990s. The ’90s are widely regarded as the golden age of hip-hop. But while reminiscing on the decade during ’90s week, it dawned on us that it may also be the golden age of language. Don’t front, you know you used to spell fat with the “ph.” But for those who forgot, we decided to take a trip down memory lane and collect our favorite sayings of the ’90s. Word up.—Calvin Stovall


bangin’ | ba ng-in |

noun [ trans. ]

  • 1: of extraordinary quality
  • 2: attractive or desirable

EXAMPLE “God damn, backyard’s bangin’ like a Benzie/If I was jiggy, you’d be spotted like Spuds McKenzie”

– Ghostface Killah, “Ice Cream” (1995)

big willie |  big ˈwilē |


  • 1: someone with a lot of money and luxury goods, usually acquired through hustling; one with extravagant taste and a penchant for flaunting their wealth.

EXAMPLE “The crew is lampin’ Big Willie-style/Check the chip-toothed smile, plus I profile wild.”

– Nas, “The World is Yours”

bling | ˈbli NG  |


  • 1: jewelry made primarily of platinum or diamonds; characterized by distinct gleam emitted when hit by light

EXAMPLE “All day my phone ringin’ bling bling bling/Can see my earring from a mile bling bling.”

– B.G., “Bling, Bling”

‘bout it |  bout IT |


  • 1: showing dedication; all about a particular topic or action
  • 2: to be thorough in handling one’s business
  • 3: down for any and everything
  • 4: intrepidness; not showing fear

EXAMPLE “Cause I’m bout it, I mean I’m rowdy/I hang with these killasthat everyone talk about.”

– Master P, “Bout it, Bout it”


cheddar |  ˈ ch edər |


  • 1: currency; money, usually cash.

EXAMPLE “See it’s all about the cheddar, nobody do it better/Going back to Cali, strictly for the weather.”

– The Notorious B.I.G., “Going Back to Cali”

chillaxin’ |  chill axe N |


  • 1: to chill and relax at the same time.

EXAMPLE I’m just chillaxin’

coolio |  cool IE oh |


  • 1: remarkably cool or fresh

ADDITIONAL NOTES The name of 1990’s rapper Coolio of “Gangsta’s Paradise” fame.

cream |  krēm |


  • 1: currency, usually signaling substantial, long-term wealth

EXAMPLE “Cash rules everything around me/CREAM! Get the money, dolla dolla bill y’all.” – Method – Method Man, “C.R.E.A.M.”


Da bomb or Bomb |  da bäm |


  • 1: something of surprisingly exceptional quality


  • 1: to be explosively good; mind-blowing.

EXAMPLE “The pussy was da bomb, had a nigga on sprung” – Snoop Doggy Dogg, “Bitches Ain’t Shit”

Doe or Dough |  dō |


  • 1: currency; quick means of exchange

EXAMPLE “Bitches get fucked on the roof when i ain’t got no hotel dough” – Big L, “7 Minute Freestyle”

drop it like it’s hot |  dräp it līk its hät |


  • 1: to drop one’s backside quickly to the rhythm of a song, catching it just before it touches the floor.

EXAMPLE “After you back it up, then stop/Then wha, wha, what, drop drop it like it’s hot” – Lil Wayne, “Back that Azz Up”


everything is everything |  ‘evrē th i NG iz ‘evrē th i NG |


  • 1: it’s all good; used to affirm or confirm that a situation is chill; all is right in the world.

EXAMPLE “Everything is everything, what is meant to be will be” – Lauryn Hill, “Everything is Everything”


Groovy |  ˈgroōvē |


  • 1: cool; used to confirm that everything is OK; often uttered during the use of hallucinogenic or psychedelic drugs.

EXAMPLE “Groovy dude, not to prove to be rude/But this stuff is like what you might put on movie food.” – MF DOOM, “Great Day”


Holla back |  ˈhälər bak |


  • 1: to reply in order to continue a correspondence with a friend or new acquaintance.

EXAMPLE “It’s alright, you heard? It’s alright, holla back” – Jay-Z “It’s Alright”
ADDITIONAL NOTES officially died in 2005 after the release of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollback Girl”

hooty hoo |  ‘hoō tee hu  |


  • 1: call used by hustlers to signal the presence of police.
  • 2: tribal utterance acknowledging a friend.

EXAMPLE “One for the playas at the crib, dank and dranks/And two is for the sound, Hootie Hoo that I make” – Big Boi, “Hootie Hoo”


jiggy |  ‘jig-ee |


  • 1: fly; dapper; exceptionally well-dressed and put together

“Let’s get the dough and stay real jiggy, uh huh/And sip the Cris and And sip the Cris’ and get pissy-pissy/Flow infinitely like the memory of my nigga Biggie, baby!”
– Jay-Z, “Hard Knock Life”


Keepin’ it real |  kēp in it ‘rē(ə)l |


  • 1: the act of staying true to one’s self or upbringing

“Keepin’ it real, packin’ steel, getting’ high/’Cause life’s a bitch and then ya die.”
– AZ, “Life’s a Bitch”


Live |  liv |

  • 1: full of energy; exciting; lively
  • 2: real, authentic

“From Bedford Stuyvesant, the livest one/Representin’ BK to the fullest”
– The Notrious B.I.G., “Unbelievable”


Maxin’ |  maks‐in |


  • 1: to do a whole lot of nothing; relaxing without a care in the world.

“Chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool and uh shootin’ some b-ball outside of the school.”
– The Fresh Prince, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Theme Song”

Mo’ money, mo’ problems |  mo ‘mənē mo ‘präbləms |

  • 1: the eternal conundrum of success; the more money you get, the more problems you have.

“I don’t know what they want from me/It’s like the more money we come about, the more problems we see.”
– The Notorious B.I.G., “Mo Money, Mo Problems”


No diggity |  nō dig-i-tee |


  • 1: without a doubt; definite; used to show supreme confidence in something

“I like the players/No diggity, no doubt”
– Blackstreet, “No Diggity”


Slammin’ |  slam-in |


  • 1: aggressively good; of a definitely superior quality

“My rap’s steady slammin’, I keep a heavy cannon/It’s a new sherrif in town, and it ain’t Reggie Hammond.”
– Big L, “Put it On”

Sneaks |  ‘snəks |


  • 1: from the root word sneakers
  • 2: tennis shoes; kicks; gym shoes

EXAMPLE “Freaks be movin’ in fly sneaks/two finger rings and gold teeth, and ain’t afraid to hold heat” – Raekwon “Ice Cream”


Phat |  fat |


  • 1: used to describe something of considerable thickness or girth, usually a part of the female anatomy;
  • 2: describing something particularly fulfilling; robust; can refer to one’s wealth.
  • 3: acronym for pretty hot and tempting.
  • Note: Not to be confused with “fat.”

EXAMPLE “Long as my motherfuckin’ pockets was phat/I didn’t give a fuck where the bitch was at.” – Dr. Dre, “Bitches Ain’t Shit”


Word up |  wərd əp |


  • 1: Interjectional statement of the affirmative; shows that the user enthusiastically agrees with what was just said.

EXAMPLE “Thug changes, and love changes/and best friends become strangers, word up” – Nas “The Message”


Ya played yaself |  yə plā ed ya self |


  • 1: To overstep one’s bounds, unintentionally embarrassing one’s self; to misjudge or underestimate an opponent based on delusions of grandeur.

EXAMPLE “So put a quarter in your ass, ’cause ya played yaself” – yaself” – Big Daddy Kane, “The Symphony”

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