“This is America” by Childish Gambino [feat. some others] – Lyrics for English students

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This Is America (single cover) 2018.jpg
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From Donald Glover’s initial “ya, ya, ya’s” to Young Thug’s closing mumbles, “This is America” has become such an iconic song. Pretty much every country has done their own spinoff at this point. But for those of you learning English out there, did you understand the lyrics? This post isn’t an attempt to explain hidden meanings in the video or deep explanations in the lyrics. I’m just trying to explain some of the common expressions and slang he uses in the song, things that might be harder for non-native English speakers to understand. Watch the video if you like and accompany the song. Ready? So here we go!

Read more: for other Lyrics “Explained”, for just lyrics without my explanations

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Song Lyrics & Explanations

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away

  • Society: This sounds like what certain prejudiced Americans say to immigrants or groups they don’t like (black, Muslim, poor, etc.)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go away

We just wanna party

  • Informal Speech: *We just want to party

Party just for you

We just want the money

Money just for you (Yeah)

I know you wanna party

Party just for free

Girl, you got me dancin’ (Girl, you got me dancin’)

  • Grammar: *You’ve got me dancing… Also, You have me dancing…

Dance and shake the frame (Yeah)

  • Slang: “Frame” here refers to the woman’s body.

We just wanna party (Yeah)

Party just for you (Yeah)

We just want the money (Yeah)

Money just for you (You)

I know you wanna party (Yeah)

Party just for free (Yeah)

Girl, you got me dancin’ (Girl, you got me dancin’, yeah)

Dance and shake the frame (Ooh)

This is America

Don’t catch you slippin’ now

  • Slang: To “catch” someone doing something is to find or witness that person. It’s usually when you find someone doing an act that is not right. “Don’t let me catch you stealing.” “Slipping” here means to make a mistake or do something wrong.
  • Pronunciation: The lyrics I found say “now” but it sounds kind of like “no.” Gambino could be doing this intentionally. Either way, it has about the same meaning. “Don’t let them find you doing something you shouldn’t be doing, being weak, doing something illegal.”

Don’t catch you slippin’ now

Look what I’m whippin’ now

  • Slang: “Whipping” in slang usually means to make or come up with something. It’s mostly used like “whipping up” something. Whipping can also have to do with cars, as in “Look what I’m driving now.” Whipping traditionally has to do with using a whip to punish someone like a prisoner or slave, or turning milk into a “whipped” cream, for example.
  • Pronunciation: “Now” here kind of sounds like “on,” so it almost sounds like “Look what I’m whipping (beating, hitting) on.”
  • Culture: The “whip” is also a popular dance, by the way.

This is America (Woo)

Don’t catch you slippin’ now

Don’t catch you slippin’ now

Look what I’m whippin’ now

This is America (Skrrt, skrrt, woo)

Don’t catch you slippin’ now (Ayy)

Look how I’m livin’ now

Police be trippin’ now (Woo)

  • Grammar: *Police are tripping now…
  • Slang: “Tripping” here means to act in a way that is wrong or dumb to others, constantly making mistakes and bad choices. “My dad is always punishing me for stuff I didn’t do. He’s tripping.”

Read more: Tripping, also Adventures of Charles

Yeah, this is America (Woo, ayy)

Guns in my area (Word, my area)

  • Figurative speech: His “area” can be his neighborhood, as in, he lives in an area with lots of guns. It can also be literally in his personal area, like in his possession. It most likely refers to America as a whole, though.
  • Slang: “Word” when used like this is just a way to acknowledge what someone says. It’s like saying “really, true, yep, etc.”

I got the strap (Ayy, ayy)

  • Grammar: *I have the strap…
  • Slang: A “strap” in this sense refers to a gun, gun strap.

Read more: Strap

I gotta carry ’em

  • Informal Speech: *I have to carry them.
  • Less Obvious Meaning: He has to carry guns, as if for protection or because that’s the stereotype.

Yeah, yeah, I’ma go into this (Ugh)

  • Informal Speech: *I’m going to go into this…
  • Expression: “Go in” in this sense means to really do well, have a lot of success, really analyze, look hard at, and make an overall really cool song.

Yeah, yeah, this is guerilla (Woo)

  • Double Meaning: Like guerilla warfare where trained common civilians get involved in warlike fighting. “Guerilla” rhymes perfectly with “gorilla” which is kind of a derogatory term against black people. This is probably on purpose as if to say, “This is about black people.”

Read more: Guerilla

Yeah, yeah, I’ma go get the bag

  • Slang: The “bag” here means money. It could also mean drugs since they’re mostly sold in a little bag.

Read more: Bag, also slang terms for money

Yeah, yeah, or I’ma get the pad

a villa style mansion in the evening by the pool, meaning of slang "pad" from Childish Gambino song
a nice “pad” – by Vita Vilcina
  • Slang: The “pad” most likely refers to a house, like a nice home.
  • Double Meaning: In another way, he could be using a double meaning to refer to a writing pad (notepad) where he writes his smart ideas.

Read more: Pad

Yeah, yeah, I’m so cold like, yeah (Yeah)

  • Slang: “Cold” in slang can mean a few things. It can mean that someone is “coldhearted” and doesn’t care about anything, or a mean person. It can also mean that someone is really cool and good at something.

I’m so dope like, yeah (Woo)

  • “Dope” can also mean really cool, something that’s liked by others.

Read more: Dope, also Adventures of Charles

We gon’ blow like, yeah (Straight up, uh)

  • Informal Speech: *We’re going to blow…
  • Slang: “Blow” or “blow up” in slang means to come out and have a ton of success, become really popular. “Straight up” is slang that is usually used to agree with someone. It means something like “true, for real, etc.”

Read more: Straight up

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, tell somebody

You go tell somebody

Grandma told me

Get your money, Black man (Get your— Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Get your—Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Get your—Black man)

This is America (Woo, ayy)

Don’t catch you slippin’ now (Woo, woo, don’t catch you slippin’ now)

Don’t catch you slippin’ now (Ayy, woah)

Look what I’m whippin’ now (Slime!)

This is America (Yeah, yeah)

Don’t catch you slippin’ now (Woah, ayy)

Don’t catch you slippin’ now (Ayy, woo)

Look what I’m whippin’ now (Ayy)

Look how I’m geekin’ out (Hey)

  • Slang: “Geeking out” is to be dressed in a really stylish but kind of formal way. A similar expression is “geeked up” with about the same meaning. This phrase became popular when a style of dance called jerking got famous. This term also means to get high on drugs, but that’s different from what Gambino’s talking about. “Geek” traditionally is a mean term used to make fun of kids that are seen as nerds or who have awkward style. The meaning was turned to be stylish in a weird way. “Geeking out” can also be to show off one’s intelligence or get excited by “nerdy” or “geeky” subjects.

Read more: Geek, Geek out, Geeked up

I’m so fitted (I’m so fitted, woo)

a female model with nice clothing and heels, representing the meaning of slang word "fitted" from This Is America song
she’s “fitted” – by Matheus Ferrero
  • Slang: “Fitted” means well-dressed or stylish.

Read more: Fitted

I’m on Gucci (I’m on Gucci)

  • Figurative Speech/Dual Meaning: “On Gucci” could mean that he is wearing Gucci and is in a phase where he likes this brand. This could be that he is “on” this brand like a drug since we usually say “on” when someone is using or is addicted to a drug. That would relate to being geeked out/up from before. “He’s on LSD.” It could also mean he likes or is acting like Gucci Mane, a famous rapper. Being “on” someone can also mean to make fun of them, so this line has a few probable meanings.

I’m so pretty (Yeah, yeah, woo)

I’m gon’ get it (Ayy, I’m gon’ get it)

  • Informal Speech: I’m going to get get it… “Get it” could refer to making money. “Get it!” is often what people yell to encourage someone to do something well, like dancing. The way he says it though, “Gon’ get it” is used commonly to mean that the person is in trouble or is going to have serious problems. “Ooh, you broke mom’s lamp. You’re gonna get it! (you’re in big trouble)”

Watch me move (Blaow)

This a celly (Ha)

  • Grammar: *This is a celly…
  • Slang: “Celly” here refers to a cellphone.
  • Society: This relates to some police officers that shot innocent black people confusing their cellphones with a gun.

That’s a tool (Yeah)

  • Slang: A “tool” here refers to a gun, saying the cellphone looked like a gun to the police.
  • Society: They could also be using this excuse as a “tool” to get out of trouble.

On my Kodak (Woo) Black

  • Culture/Figurative Speech: Now he’s on Kodak, which is probably that he’s taking photos or recording what’s happening. Kodak is a company that has produced lots of photography products. Kodak Black is a rapper, so he could also be saying that he is acting like Kodak Black. He could also just be saying Kodak to refer to the word black, as in, he is “being black,” acting in a stereotypically black way.

Ooh, know that (Yeah, know that, hold on)

  • Grammar: *You know that…
  • Slang: “Hold on” means to wait, or also to be strong and not give up, not stop.

Get it (Woo, get it, get it)

Ooh, work it (21)

  • Slang: “Work it” means to do something really well, especially related to dancing.
  • Rapper: “21” refers to 21 Savage, a rapper in this song.

Read more: Work it

Hunnid bands, hunnid bands, hunnid bands (Hunnid bands)

  • Slang: *One hundred bands… “Hunnid” or “a hunnid” is a common slang pronunciation of the word “hundred.” “Bands” means a thousand dollars. A hundred bands is a lot of money.

Read more: Hunnid, Bands, also slang terms for money

Contraband, contraband, contraband (Contraband)

I got the plug in Oaxaca (Woah)

  • Slang: A “plug” is someone who provides illegal contraband for another party, usually drugs. It also can be just a person who has anything another person needs.
  • Society/Geography: He’s saying he has a drug supplier in Oaxaca, a state in Mexico. This state isn’t famous for drug activity, but he says it likely because it’s in Mexico, a country infamous for drug cartels. He’s not being serious though.

Read more: Plug, Oaxaca

They gonna find you like “blocka” (Blaow)

  • Informal Speech: *They’re going to find you…
  • Culture/Sounds: “Blocka” is the sound a gun makes. They’re going to find you and shoot you, basically. This sound has been popularized by rappers of Caribbean origin and is now used by all kinds of rappers, especially in trap music.

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, tell somebody

America, I just checked my following list, and

  • Media: His following list on social media.

You go tell somebody

You m********** owe me

Grandma told me

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Black man (1, 2, 3—get down)

  • Culture/Music: This is a popular line in funk and soul music from the mid-1900s, made most popular by artist James Brown. He usually said this before he started dancing, which is exactly what happens in the music video.
  • Expression: To “get down” in music means to start dancing and having fun. Similarly, “Get down!” is what people yell when someone starts shooting a gun.

Read more: Get down

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, tell somebody

You go tell somebody

Grandma told me, “Get your money”

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Get your money, Black man (Black man)

Black man

You just a black man in this world

  • Grammar: *You’re just a black man…

You just a barcode, ayy

  • Deeper Meaning: A “barcode” is that black and white code that people scan to buy something or check the price. He could be saying black people are seen as something to buy or that have a price. Just objects.

You just a black man in this world

Drivin’ expensive foreigns, ayy

a foreign car representing the meaning of English slang "foreigns"
all I drive is “foreigns” – by Mike Von
  • Slang: “Foreigns” are foreign cars. Rappers usually love to sing about foreign cars.

You just a big dawg, yeah

  • Slang: “Dawg” is a word that refers to another person, usually a man. It’s the same as dude, bro, etc.

Read more: Dawg

I kenneled him in the backyard

  • A “kennel” is a shelter where dogs are kept. This plays on the word “dawg” from before, meaning he puts this man in his place or probably buries him in the backyard.

No, probably ain’t life to a dog

For a big dog

  • Understanding: These last two lines I can’t really understand what he’s saying, but this is more or less it.

What Else?

“This is America” is such a cool song because its lyrics are full of double meanings, cultural references, and sarcastic criticisms. Again, I don’t really want to get into the deeper meaning of the lyrics, but it’s apparent that he is criticizing lots of modern hip hop. The video expresses this even more and his criticism shifts against America as a whole, even though he focuses more on the black experience.

Violence, racism, discrimination, and constant stereotypical pressures are just part of what can make life in America very tough for anybody, and especially the disadvantaged groups of people. Of course, black Americans are one of the greatest examples of this, and we see proof of it time and time again. The song is fun to listen to and dance to. The video is enticing with just as much meaningful content as the lyrics, and this song was a hit since the second it reached our screens.

Featured image: Wayne Lee-Sing

Asking Questions with or without ‘Do’ & ‘To be’? – English Habits

There is a habit that many people have and, maybe, don’t know it. In casual speech, many English speakers tend not to form questions properly. This can happen on purpose so that the speaker can make themselves not sound too formal. Sometimes though, it can be an accident. Well, I’m not here to say whether it is right or wrong but just to show you English learners what’s happening when you hear this. To refresh your memory on the right way to ask questions, you can read this page. Read about other English speaker habits on the Blog. Following are two habits with asking questions that English speakers have:

Questions without “Do”

One of the most noticeable question-related habits is with the verb, to “do.” This little word is confusing for many non-English speakers, but it helps us understand that what we are saying is a question. In other words, it’s an “auxiliary.” With that said, “do” gets left out of a lot of questions in regular conversation.

  • “What you want from me?”

Correct is: What do you want from me?

You can see that “do” just gets dropped out. This also happens in questions that don’t have question words (AKA What, Where, Who, etc.)

  • “You have a dollar I can borrow?”

Correct is: Do you have a dollar I can borrow?

If you speak a language like Spanish, then you do this regularly anyway. “Do” just lets us know that we’re forming a question without having to change our tone of voice to sound more “questiony.”

Questions without “To be”

Another habit people have when forming questions is leaving out the verb “to be” where it should be.

  • “What you doing this weekend?”

Correct is: What are you doing this weekend?

Just like with “do” before, the version of “to be” (are) gets completely dropped. This habit is more common in longer questions. It would usually sound weird in a short question with only a few words.

  • “Who you?” This sounds weird. It’s better to say, Who are you?

Doing this with questions that describe an action is more common in general casual English. Doing it in questions where the main verb is “to be” sounds somewhat uneducated and very improper. In “What are you doing?”, doing is the main verb because that’s the main action. In the question “Who are you?”, are is the main verb because, well, it’s the only verb.

  • “What your name?” This sounds very improper. It’s better to say, What‘s your name?

Remember, people do this without really thinking about it. It’s more for you to understand what’s happening as opposed to trying to memorize this feature. This habit also can happen in questions without question words, of course.

  • “That going to be a problem?”

Correct is: Is that going to be a problem?

A Note …

These are pretty common habits for many English speakers, though not all. It can depend on region or accent, and some habits are more common with certain accents than others. Because these habits are widely practiced, many people don’t even notice them in casual speech. But beware; sometimes dropping the “do” or “to be” can sound very improper, incorrect, and make the speaker sound sloppy or uneducated. Listen to other English speakers and pay attention to how people react to the things they say. This is a good way to tell if that habit is acceptable or not in X situation.

More Examples

Without “do”:

“What __ you think about the new mayor?”

“__ They know they’re being watched?”

“__ He just say that?”

Without “to be”:

“__ You some kind of genius or something?”

“What __ we doing here, anyway?”

“__ That a threat?”

**Hey again! Thanks for reading and learning more, my wonderful reader. Continue to be encouraged in your learning journey. You can do it! And share with us anything that’s on your mind to share about this topic, if you can. Talk soon…

Featured image credit: by Emily Morter on Unsplash

English Speaker Habits Using ‘Got’ – Quick Tip

If you’ve been studying English, you know there are many possible meanings of the word “get.” There are so many uses that it has become notoriously difficult for English learners to know how to use. The past tense of that word is “got,” and it is no exception to this wild and confusing system of uses and meanings. I’m not here to explain all the possible meanings of “got”. Instead, I specifically want to tell you about some habits that English speakers have when we talk. You’ll be able to read more quick tips like this on the Blog. Hopefully, this can clear things up a bit more (or confuse you a bit more)!

Got and Have, which one is right?

One habit that many English speakers have is saying “got” where they should be using “have.” This is where “have” means to possess something or needing to do something. This use is quite informal and is used more in casual speech. Read more about that here.

  • I got five rooms in my house.

More correctly would be: I have five rooms in my house.

A similar habit that people have is in situations where “have” is used in the present perfect. We might mean to say “have got,” but “have” gets completely taken out. Here’s an example:

  • I got to leave in five minutes.

More correctly is: I have (I’ve) got to leave in five minutes.

Because most of the time saying “have” and “have got” means the same thing, it can be hard to tell which of the two cases the speaker is using. Either way, they are referring to possession or a need to do something.

Another Note

In British-style English (British, Australian, South African, etc.), I notice it can be more common to say “have got” in place of “have.”

British: — Have you got any gum?

I’ve got some. Here you go.

Neutral: — Do you have any gum?

I have some. Here you go.

Again, I’m not saying only British-style accents use this. It’s just more common in those accents than in the American-style accents. And remember that all English speakers don’t have the habits listed above. Like any language, the region, social class, and personal experiences of the speaker play a role in how the individual talks. Still, you can bet lots of English speakers talk like this!

Read More Examples:

“Do you got a dress? I need one for the party.”

“Marissa got three kids? She looks so young!”

“Listen, I got to tell you something.”

“We got to go, hurry up!”

**Thank you for coming, curious readers! Have you heard English speakers talk like this? Do you think you could correct the example sentences with the right grammar? You’re doing great for seeking to learn more about this wonderful language! Keep on learning, my friends.

“Ojuelegba (Remix)” by Wizkid feat. Drake, Skepta – lyrics for English students

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In this post, we will look at song lyrics from Nigerian artist Wizkid, along with rappers Drake and Skepta. The song is the remix of the original “Ojuelegba” from Wizkid’s Ayo album, which you can listen to here. This post is also a continuation of the series where we analyze English-language song lyrics for learners, called Lyrics “Explained”. I’ve mostly been covering songs from the U.S., Canada, or Britain, so this is a nice change-up (at least for one of the singers). It’s a good reminder that English is spoken throughout the world, and places like Nigeria make up an important side of English-language culture too. If you want to read “Ojuelegba (Remix)” lyrics without my explanations, you can find them here. I also got some help with translations since part of the song is in the Yoruba language. You can read more on Kilonso. Okay, here we go.

Image of a busy street in Ojuelegba suburb of Lagos, Nigeria, namesake and subject of the song Ojuelegba by Wizkid
Ojuelegba, Nigeria – By Omoeko Media

Song Lyrics (Wizkid, Drake, Skepta)

Ni Ojuelegba o, my people dey there

  • Other language: In the Yoruba language, “In Ojuelegba.” Ojuelegba is a busy suburb of Lagos, by the way.
  • Regional accent: Then in regional English dialect: “My people are there.”

My people suffer, dem dey pray for blessing eh

  • Regional speech: *”They all pray for blessings.”

Ni ojuelegba o, my people dey there

Dem dey pray for blessing, for better living eh eh

Are you feeling good tonight?

This thing got me thanking God for life

I can’t explain

I can’t explain, yeah

Are you feeling good tonight?

This thing got me thanking God for life

I just can’t explain

I can’t explain, no, no, yeah

Look, it’s gon’ be a long long time ‘fore we stop

  • Informal speech: *It’s going to be a long, long time before…

Boy better know, they better know who make the scene pop

  • Grammar: *Who makes the scene…
  • Slang: “Pop” here has the meaning of making something more lively, more exciting, like a party. “That place was popping!”

All I ever needed was a chance to get the team hot

  • Slang: “Hot” here can mean successful, famous, or anything similar to that. He refers to his group of friends and people working with him as his team.

Only thing I fear is a headshot or a screenshot

  • Grammar: *The only thing I fear…
  • Other vocabulary: A “headshot” is a gunshot to the head. A “screenshot” is a picture you take of your own phone’s screen. Basically, he fears either getting killed or someone finding out what’s on his phone. Haha.

Pree me, dem a pree me

  • Regional speech: “Pree” I think comes from Jamaica. It means to pay close attention to something. With a Jamaican patois accent, he’s saying that people are paying close attention to him, like the paparazzi or his fans.
  • Double meanings: It also sounds like “premie/premy,” an informal way to refer to people that were born prematurely. I don’t know if that was intended, but it could be an interesting way for him to compare these people to babies.

You know they only call me when they need me

I never go anywhere, they never see me

I’m the type to take it easy, take it easy

  • Idioms: “Take it easy” means to do things slowly and calmly, in a relaxed manner. “-How have you been? -Oh, I’ve been taking it easy.”

I took girls in the very first text I sent

I don’t beg no lovers, I don’t beg no friends

  • Grammar: Double negatives! *I don’t beg any…

If you wanna link, we can link right now

  • Slang: To “link” or “link up” is to get together with someone or to meet someone so you can spend time with them.

Skeppy, Wiz and Drake, it’s a ting right now

  • Names: Those are the names of the artists participating in this song.
  • Slang/Regional speech: Again with a Caribbean/African accent, Drake says “it’s a thing.” This means that they made something happen together, they accomplished something. “Thing” can have lots of weird underlying meanings depending on the situation and the speaker.

Are you feeling good tonight?

This thing got me thanking God for life

I can’t explain

I can’t explain eh yeah

When I was in school, being African was a diss

  • Slang: A “diss” or “dis” is something used to tease or make someone feel bad. It comes from the word “disrespect,” but has to do more with teasing or saying disrespectful things toward another.

Sounds like you need help saying my surname, Miss

  • Society: Having a foreign last name, Skepta’s teachers had a hard time pronouncing it when he was in school. This is a common occurrence for people who have foreign surnames.

Tried to communicate

But every day is like another episode of Everybody Hates Chris

  • Society/Culture: From Chris Rock’s TV show. Throughout the show, Chris suffers from racism for being the only black kid at his school.
Photo of boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., expressing from Ojuelegba Remix lyrics by Wizkid, Drake & Skepta
Floyd Mayweather getting ready to fight – By rcelis

Ever since mum said, “Son you are a king

  • Culture/Society: This reminds me of “The Lion King” where young Simba is told that one day he will be king. I guess the idea is ever since he was a boy, a little kid.

I feel like Floyd when I’m stepping into the ring

  • Culture: Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a famous boxer.

Just spoke to the boy, said he’s flying in with a ting

  • Grammar: *I just spoke…
  • Slang/Informal speech: By “the boy,” he probably is talking about Drake. Saying the “ting” again, it could mean any kind of cool thing that he’s bringing. It’s something important.

We’re touching the road to celebrate another win, we’re going in

  • Idiom/Figurative speech: “Touching the road” means to go on a trip. It could be literally on the road, like in a car/bus. It could also be just going on any trip. To “go in” can mean a lot of things. Here it means to really enjoy something, put in your biggest effort, to do something very well.

Why am I repping these ends? Man I don’t know

  • Slang: To “rep” is to represent something, usually a neighborhood or place of origin. “Ends” I believe is London slang meaning neighborhood.

The government played roulette with my postcode

  • Figurative speech: “Playing roulette” here gives the idea of the government randomly choosing where he and his family will live. It appears that in London’s project housing system, that has been a pretty common practice. Also, Skepta is from Tottenham, a rough neighborhood in London.

All I know is it’s where my people dem are suffering

  • Regional speech: “Dem” here doesn’t change the meaning of the phrase. It means “they” or “them.” It’s sort of a Caribbean/African style of talking.

I seen it before, narrate the story as it unfolds

  • Grammar: *I’ve seen it before…

Dad certified the settings and my mum knows

My mind full of more bullets than your gun holds

  • Figurative speech: He’s seen or heard lots of violence, gun shots.

Now I got the peng tings in the front row

  • Slang: “Peng” is British slang for beautiful, attractive, or appealing. “Tings” here probably refers to women, so he has pretty women at his shows.

Saying, “Skeppy come home, baby come home!”

  • Other info: “Come home” might be telling Skepta he’s welcome to come back to his ancestral homeland, Africa.

Yeah, I love the sun but I respect the rain

  • Figurative speech/Double meaning: The sun usually is a reference for good days, while the rain symbolizes hard times. This is especially common in music or literature. It also could be a reference to religion. He can love the Son (Jesus Christ) but respects his Reign (His power and authority). I don’t know if Skepta is religious or Christian, but it could be a double meaning either way.

Look forward to good times, can’t forget the pain

  • Idiom/Phrasal verb: To “look forward to” something is to be excited for it to happen. “I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!”

I was the kid in school with the ten-pound shoes

Black pepper grains, representing the line about pepper grains relating to hair in the lyrics of Ojuelegba Remix by Wizkid
Grains of black pepper for comparison – by Anas Alhajj
  • Society: “Pounds” referring to British currency. These are cheap shoes, probably in bad quality.

White socks, jack-ups and the pepper grains

  • Slang: “Jack-ups” refers to pants that are too small/short. “Pepper grains” refers to nappy hair or hair that is curly and kinky. It isn’t combed or brushed and has knots in it, so it looks like grains of black pepper.

Said they’re gonna respect me for my ambition

  • Grammar: *I said they’re going to …

Rest in peace my n***** that are missing

  • Informal/Figurative speech: “Missing” in this case really means dead.

I had to tell my story cuz they’d rather show you

Black kids with flies on their faces on the television

  • Society: Referring to the sad way Africans or black people are often portrayed on TV.

Eh e kira fun mummy mi o

  • Other language: More Yoruba; “Thanks for my mom”

Ojojumo lo n s’adura

  • “She prays every day”

Mon jaiye mi won ni won soro ju

  • “I’m enjoying my life, they are complaining”

Ojojumo owo n wole wa

  • “Every day, money is coming in”

E kira fun mummy mi o

Ojojumo lo n s’adura

Mon jaiye mi won ni won soro ju

Won ni won ni won soro ju

.

And the lyrics repeat.

Last Thoughts on Ojuelegba

Alright, we’ve got Nigeria on the list! This song has an amazing rhythm and is such a relaxing yet upbeat song at the same time. I recommend you listen to it if you haven’t yet. Throughout the lyrics, we join the struggles of growing up in the ghetto or in rough neighborhoods. There is some reflection of hard times, but also a celebration for how much better things are now. These difficulties have made these singers who they are today, and they’re proud of it. Nigeria does have a lot of English speakers, but the country is multi-ethnic and -linguistic. It’s great that we get to see some Yoruba and be more multicultural. In fact, that’s one of the best parts of English-speaking countries, anyway!

What do you think? Did you like this song? Can you relate to its message? And what about you who are from Nigeria or have visited Lagos. What can you tell us about it? Leave a comment below to share. Otherwise take care, everyone!

“Earn money side turn” Flip / Flipside – meanings & uses

Do you want to know the meanings and uses of English words like “flip” and “flipside?” You’re in the right place! I’ll give you some examples of the words’ usual definitions as well as the slang definitions. We’ll also look at some examples in a dialogue with our buddy, Charles. You can find more of these dialogues and short stories using casual language in Adventures of Charles. I’ll also leave links for you to read more about these words if you’d like. Here we go.

two street vendors sitting and selling candies, showing the slang meaning of the word flip in English
flipping is hard work – by ia huh

Flip

This is one of those words that can have many meanings. You can flip a pancake, do a flip on the floor, a backflip in the other direction. You can flip things up and flip things down. As an action (verb), flipping something can mean making a profit from it. People use it more when talking about turning a smaller amount of money into a larger amount, or buying something with intention of selling it for more. People also use it to talk about making something with less value more valuable. This was commonly used to talk about selling drugs, but it’s now used for any activity of making a profit. You can “flip” clothing or houses, for example. There’s actually a show about flipping houses on the Home & Health channel. Flipping can also mean to suddenly change your opinion or to cheat someone. As far as being positive or negative, this word kind of goes both ways.

1st Dialogue

It was a wonderful day, just a beautiful day. Why? It was one of Charles’s very rare days off, of course. On his days off, he usually liked to stay up late, sleep late, and watch his turtles. He might eat at noon or he might eat at sunset. Who cared? It was his day off! Instead of doing those things, though, he decided to go and boast his day off to a friend he knew was working.

Charles — Hey, I’d like to order a coffee cake!

Ordering at the counter, he was happy to see that his friend, Jonah, was there to cater to him on the other side.

Jonah — Charlie? What are you doing here? You don’t have work?

Charles — Of course not! It’s my day off, so naturally I came here to gloat.

Jonah — You’re just mad cuz I’m flipping these cakes into some real dough.

  • I’m making a profit, making money from baking these cakes.

Charles — Yeah, well if you stopped trying to flip over your boss, you might actually get somewhere with it. Do you even like baking?

  • Trying to cheat your boss, taking advantage of him.

Jonah — No, but the bakers here before me were terrible. This place would’ve gone out of business if I hadn’t have flipped it. Here you go.

  • If I hadn’t turned things around, made this place better.

Jonah hands his friend a freshly baked coffee cake. Yum!

Charles — Thanks, my dude. Ey, you haven’t seen Sheila here today, have you?

Jonah — That’s three sixty-five. No, why?

Charles — Oh, nothing. She was supposed to meet me here today, but I guess she flipped on me.

  • I guess she changed her mind, decided not to come.

.

A man counting US dollar bills in his hands, showing the slang meaning of a flip in English
he just made a flip on something – by Karolina Grabowska

Flip

Now flip can also be used as a noun. When talking about a flip, one might be referring to a head-over-leg movement where they rotate their body over the ground. In slang, a flip can be the actual act of making a profit. Often, people express this by saying “make a flip” or “catch a flip.” It’s basically the noun version of the act of “flipping” above. Flip can also be a derogatory term describing a promiscuous woman, or at least a woman who the speaker thinks is promiscuous (I got to play it clean here, sorry). This comes from the idea that the woman “flips” (changes partners quickly) a lot or is “flipped” by different men. This use is not that important if you’re just learning English, though.

2nd Dialogue

Jonah — Oh. Dang, bro, I’m sorry. She ain’t a flip, is she?

  • She isn’t a sleazy girl, someone who sleeps around, is she?

Charles looks at his friend a bit confused and frowns.

Charles — What? You don’t mean …?

Jonah — Yeah?

Charles — No! No way, Sheila’s not like that. She records music a lot, so she gets stuck in her work sometimes.

Jonah — Ah okay. I hope so. You know you’re holding up my line, right?

Charles — My bad. Mmm! This cake is so good. I might have to start selling them myself.

Jonah — Hey! Don’t you start trying to make a flip off of my hard work.

  • Don’t try to make a profit from my work, my product.

.

two friends on the beach at sunset giving each other a handshake, showing an occasion where one might say catch you on the flipside in English
catch you on the flipside! – by Tyler Nix

Flipside

This one is pretty straightforward. The flipside just means “the other side.” People usually use it to mean after a situation is finished or after some event has passed. It’s often used in the phrase “Catch you on the flipside.” On occasion, one might say “on the flip” with this same meaning, taking out the “side.”

3rd Dialogue

Charles — I promise I won’t. I’m too lazy to sell anything. That’s why I work in the theater and at the college.

The people in the line were getting impatient. Why was this immigrant guy taking so long to take his cake and leave?

Charles — Let me get out of here. I’ll see you on the flipside.

  • I’ll see you later, after work, after a few days, after I do some things.

Jonah — Alright, catch you on the flip. And let me know if you hear from Sheila.

  • I’ll see you next time, on the flipside.

Charles gave Jonah a nod and started to walk away. The customer said, “Finally!” and started to order his cake or bread or pastry. Just as he was leaving the bakery door, Charles had one last thing to say.

Charles — God! That man can make a cake!

.

Final Thoughts

In summary, “flip” is kind of a tricky word. Because of its history as being a word related to drugs or its use with women, it can be somewhat offensive if not used correctly. That one’s probably better to leave to native speakers to use and you can at least understand them, although you can challenge yourself if you like! It’s obviously not always bad, since it’s a common word for talking about making money or reselling something. “Flipside” is a very neutral word and you don’t have to feel weird at all for using it. I hope this has helped you understand the informal meanings of these terms.

Comment if you’ve heard these words before, know a different meaning, or want to practice using them. Here are some more definitions below if you’re interested. Until then, we’ll be talking later!

Some Other Definitions

Flip: [verb] to turn (something) over with a quick or intentional movement; [noun] a movement where an object or body turns over quickly or forcefully

Profit: [noun] a gain or earning in money, [verb] to make a gain or earning

Boast: [verb] to express too much pride in something about oneself

Cater to: [verb] to attend to or serve (someone)

Gloat: [verb] to express self-pride or admiration in an excessive or improper way

Promiscuous: [adjective] being highly sensual or overly sexual

Sleazy: [adjective] showing low moral values or loose behaviors, especially related to sex

Straightforward: [adjective] being easy to understand or do

Flipside: [noun] the other side or opposite end of something; another day

Pastry: [noun] dough used for making desserts like pies; a kind of dessert made from dough

One day bet ride – “bet” “ride or die” “rider” “day one” meanings & uses

There are more than a few ways to agree with something in English. What about talking about a lifelong friend? We cover these topics and more in today’s post, looking at terms bet, ride or die, rider, and day one, as well as their meanings and how they’re used. Read more if you want to learn more about these words and how to use them properly. We’ll see examples in a short story about Charles, and as always, practice with some questions at the end. Here we go!

Young woman doing a thumbs-up to represent the word Bet, English slang word
Bet! – Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

Bet

You may be familiar with a “bet” as a type of wager or strong guess that something will happen, usually involving a loss or gain of money depending on the result. Bet has meant different things over the years, yet in slang, it often has the same meaning as “cool”, “for sure”, or “really?” This is because of the phrase, “You bet ya” or the shorter version, “You bet.” This is a way to say “of course” or to guarantee something. Shortening it to just “bet” usually is a response to something to show gratitude or respect, but can also be used to question something.

.

Sweeping up the stage as always, Charles liked to approach his work with a smile. He knew one day he’d save up enough money to move out of his tiny apartment and into a decent condo, maybe even a home. Who knows? His friends Sheila and Jonah could split the rent with him, easy. By then, he could be designing the sets for plays instead of cleaning up dirty props. Until that day, he was content to help where he could.

BUNG BUNG BUNG. Footsteps pounded on the wooden floor before the doors to the theater flung open. It was an actor looking for … something.

Charles — You need help? You look lost.

Actor — Who? Oh, no, I’m just looking for my phone. I always forget it under a seat or behind a box or something. I bet money it’s in the same place I always leave it.

  • I’m sure, I know, I’m almost certain.

Charles — What? Do you mean this phone?

The actor smiled and ran up to Charles.

Actor — Yeah, man! Thanks so much. It was under the seat agian, wasn’t it?

Charles — Well, in the costumes bin, actually.

Actor — Bet. Thanks a lot man. I appreciate it. I was getting frantic.

  • For sure, cool, I get it, of course.

Charles — Really? I didn’t notice. Haha. I know how it is with the cellphones.

Actor — I have an extra special reason to keep my phone on me, though.

Charles — Bet? What is that?

  • Really? For real?

.

Two hands making a promise to represent the term Ride or Die, informal English words
A ride-or-die is always there – Image by Cheryl Holt from Pixabay

Ride or Die * Rider

The concept of a ride-or-die means a person, usually a close friend or partner, who will do anything to help you and is extremely trustworthy. It can sometimes be used to call someone your best friend or boy/girlfriend. This comes from the idea of “ride,” or to ride with someone. This means the person sticks with you when you need them and you can count on them. A rider then is someone who is a ride-or-die. A rider can also be a person who is willing to do whatever you want and has few boundaries. They go with the flow and are true companions.

.

Actor — “What is it?” What else could it be? I gotta call my girl, man, my ride-or die.

  • My girlfriend, the person I trust, my close partner.

Charles — Oh, I didn’t know you had a girl. She a actress too?

Actor — Yeah, but she prefers the term actor. We met at the theater down the street watching somebody else’s play. Can you imagine? Somebody else’s play. Ha!

Charles continued to sweep the stage floor, focused deeply on his work.

Actor — What’re you doing after this?

Charles — I think I’ll dust the curtains. They’re pretty dirty.

Actor — Man, don’t you have a rider in your life? You need a woman.

  • Don’t you have a girlfriend, a close friend, a trustful partner?

Charles — I’m working on that, too. I have a potential girl. Just have to ask, really.

Actor — That’s what I’m talking about! But don’t wait too long. I’ve made that mistake before. Is she a rider?

  • Is she willing to do anything for you, trustworthy, does she like you a lot?

Charles nodded, halfway not understanding the question.

Actor — Oh, well then she’ll wait for you. Still, don’t take too long. Take my advice.

.

Two young girls together representing the meaning of Day One, informal English term
Together since day one – Image by Cheryl Holt from Pixabay

Day one

This term comes from an older one, “Since day one.” This is used to describe someone who has been there for you since the beginning, during hard times, and has stuck by your side the whole time. Calling someone a day-one means they are generally your closest and most trusted friend, and you respect them a lot for being there for you after years and years.

.

Charles — I won’t. She’s been a good friend to me since we met. I come from another country and it can be hard to make friends.

Actor — I get that. I couldn’t imagine being so far from home without family or friends close by. I couldn’t live without my day-ones, too. They’re the ones that keep me together.

  • Without my closest, most trusted friends.

Charles — Yeah, well I didn’t have any super close friends like that back home anyway. I had to make some new friends here. But Sheila and Jonah have been there for me in lots of situations. They’re like my new day-ones.

Actor — Well, that’s all that matters, isn’t it? Good talking, bro. I never knew your story, so thanks for sharing.

Charles — Don’t mention it. I’ll see you at the next rehearsal. Or the next time you lose your phone.

The actor laughed at this statement and waved at Charles with a sarcastic smile.

Actor — See you next time. And call that girl!

.

Final Thoughts

Saying bet is usually more informal, so it’s often used with friends or in casual settings. It’s not that it could be offensive, but it just sounds quite informal. It’s a pretty useful word you can use much the same as “okay, cool, for sure,” and so on. Ride-or-die and rider are mostly compliments and terms of respect, although they can be seen as disrespectful if they aren’t used correctly. “Rider” can have a negative connotation at times, so make sure the meaning is clear if you do ever use it. Otherwise, day-one is a very respecting and caring term, and it’s a great way to refer to a close friend, companion, or anyone that’s been there for you for a long time. We usually use it with friends though, and not family members like parents.

Do you get it? If you want, take some time to practice with these questions below. And make sure to learn some other words with the Adventures of Charles series. Be safe out there!

Questions:

  1. Can you use today’s words in your own sentences? Bet – Ride or die – Rider – Day one
  2. Are there any ride-or-dies or day-ones in your life? Who are they?
  3. What is something you would “bet money on?”
  4. Have you heard the slang word “bet” before in casual conversation? When was that?

Where I go? (audio version)

Photo by Bryan Catota

Languages learners, English enthusiasts … we have another one. Listen here to the audio version of “Where I go?” from the Adventures of Charles. You can listen to the audio by itself on this page or listen and read along with the original post here. Test your listening skills by answering some follow-up questions or writing a comment after. Follow the blog if you want to be notified directly of new content. Thanks and enjoy!

my bad_there you go_there it is_there you have it

Thanks to my student Bianca V. for helping me with this audio!

Some practice questions:

  1. In what situations might it be better to use “my bad”? What about “sorry”?
  2. Have you ever said or heard these phrases when receiving an object or giving something away?
  3. How do you usually react when someone bumps into you in the street or on public transportation? Would you be as respectful as Charles was?

Isn’t that a question? (audio version)

Photo by Bryan Catota on Pexels.com

We’re back again! Here’s an audio recorded version of my original post “Isn’t that a question” where I go over a few English phrases or terms. Please take a listen and test how much you can understand! This page just contains the audio for listening, but you can follow this link to read and listen at the same time if you want. Let me know if this listening practice helped you to understand the words better. Is there something you want me to explain or record next? Tell me in the comments or send me an email! Ready? Happy listening!

isn’t that something?_how about that?_what do you know?_i’m telling you

society + Doctor Sleep (2019) – What’s it say about us?

curtesy of YouTube

This post is going to be a little different than what you’ve seen before. We’ve looked at music, American society, and even a couple of slang terms. I figured well, I also love movies, so why the heck not do a movie section? Of course, movies tend to be a lot longer than songs and so I’m not going to analyze every line from the screenplay of Doctor Sleep (but you wish!). Instead, I’m going to focus on some elements and imagery from the movie and explain how these things relate to American society, or maybe what they reveal about the culture.

Sound interesting? Sure it does! So let’s keep reading.

I’d also like to point out that this is mainly for English students or foreign people who are curious about American society, just as a warning that some things may sound redundant if you are an English-speaker or American. Though, of course, anyone is welcome!

Doctor Sleep — not to get confused with Doctor Strange — is a supernatural horror movie written and directed by Mike Flanagan. It was made in 2019 and is a sequel to The Shining from 1980. Well, that took long enough! Besides the fact of it being a sequel, I want to mention this because The Shining has been a definitive cultural event since it came out. Not everyone has seen the movie — in fact, lots of people I know haven’t, which is mind … POOSH — but pretty much everyone recognizes at least some of the scenes from this movie.

credit from Fandom, here

The sinister opening music from the score … the waves of splashing blood pouring through the halls … the twin girls staring down the hall with their evil eyes … Jack Nicholson screaming “Here’s Johnny!” as he axes down a door. I mean, there are just too many iconic scenes to go on. The popular impact of The Shining makes today’s subject so significant too, even if it’s a mere sequel.

Just like with its predecessor, Doctor Sleep has several iconic scenes and shots, including a girl running her hands through the mental “files” of her witch foe, people flying in and out of each other’s minds, and the iconic “REDRUM” spelling itself so ominously on the cracked walls. But back to the topic: What does this movie say about America? Well, let’s see…

One noticeable aspect of the movie is the different regions of the country we see the characters going to. Stephen King, who is the author of the books, is from Maine, a state in New England. If you notice in the movie they’re mostly in some town in New Hampshire. There are little brick buildings, central church chapels, and cute little parks in the middle of town. This layout is of the classic New England town. Given the fact that Danny, the lead character, goes there to cleanse and heal from alcoholism, you can tell that these places are considered locations where you can live peacefully, get away from the noise of the city, and enjoy the fall leaves. On the other hand, when Danny is in Florida, he gets high on drugs and alcohol all the time and sleeps around with strange women, which lets you know how other Americans might view Florida. That’s also where the creepy True Knots are first seen attacking that little girl. Sorry, Florida. Harsh.

a field like you might see in the Midwest, Photo by Lawrence Hookham on Unsplash

Later on, they go to Colorado which is full of mountains, forest, and pretty lakes, while we go to Iowa and see nothing but cornfields and baseball diamonds. This probably wasn’t on accident, because Iowa and the Midwest, in general, are seen as centers for agriculture and farming, especially corn. They are also seen as the “heartland” of America, which is why you get such an important symbol like baseball there. A poor boy gets abducted in Iowa, and what happens to him also has something to say about our society.

I don’t know if this started in the U.S. or was brought here by Eastern Europeans, but gypsies are a controversial topic from this movie. Sometimes as kids, people are told to watch out for gypsies because they eat children or some nonsense. True to the myth, that’s pretty much what happens in the movie. Gypsies are based on the ethnic Roma or Romani people, but often any group of people that travel around together without any kind of direction or stability are generally considered gypsies. Especially if they’re in a trailer.

a trailer-home, Photo by John Mark Jennings on Unsplash

Trailers have a lot of importance in America. People use trailers to travel long distances, go camping, and to live in, amongst other things. A popular notion too is that “gypsies” or just people without any stable home roam around the country in a trailer. The scene of the True Knot picking up the boy in Iowa as well as the scene where Danny arrives with Abra, the other main character, at her home, shed light on this. Abra’s dad has a little freak-out session and nearly tries to kill Danny.

These two scenes show how kids in America are taught to deal with strangers (Don’t get into a car with them) and how parents react when they see their children, especially daughters, with strange adults. This seems logical, but I have seen in some other countries that kids interacting with unknown adults is not the most outrageous thing that could happen. No one wants their child to get abducted, but I notice in America, parents seem to be especially cautious in this sense compared to some other countries. Maybe this is because there are tons of cases of child abduction, child molestation, and child abuse that parents become especially protective. Children are a lot less likely to talk to strangers, even if they are genuine and nice people, because of this worry that American parents tend to put into their heads. I blame investigative shows like 20/20 and channels like Investigation Discovery (ID) for this, but I guess they have good reasons.

classic neon movie theater, Photo by Jeff Pierre on Unsplash

I don’t have too much else to say. You could see how Abra’s house was really big and nice, a sort of “classic American home” at least nowadays. We also saw some racial diversity in the movie, kind of lending to the push for more diversity in movies and media in recent years. I think that’s cool. Danny works at a convalescent home (commonly an “old folks home” or “retirement home”) helping the seniors go to sleep … forever. This is more of a Western thing, I think, where it’s acceptable and even pretty common to send old people to live in these care facilities instead of taking care of them at home. The movie theater where the girl, Andi I think, gets recruited to the True Knot team of vagabonds is a kind of classic American movie theater. You get the big neon sign out front with the movie titles on it, a ticket booth, and a big theater house full of seats and balconies and whatnot. Other than that, many Americans like a good scare, a good thrill, a mystic tale of spirit-suckers that get defeated by a living mansion burning to the ground. Or was it a hotel? Those hats the True Knot were wearing are kind of in style with certain hipster communities. I’ll talk about them another day.

I left the trailer up top if you’re interested. Also, did you notice anything else about Doctor Sleep that speaks on American society or society at large? And if any of you saw this movie, what did you think of it? Tell me in the comments, or email me at tietewaller@gmail.com. Stay well!

A handful (audio version)

Photo by Bryan Catota on Pexels.com

So I had the idea of recording some of the content here on CultSurf so that you could listen to it. If you’re learning English, you will now be able to listen to the stories and some of the content, and practice your listening skills as well! I will provide a link to the original story here so you can go back and read it in case you get lost. Thanks for listening, and remember to comment below. How did I do?

grip_host_wild