Slang City Mail

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March 8, 2007

Slang of the Week: peel a cap (verb phrase)
to fire a gun, especially to shoot someone in the head

“Peel me a grape,” said Rick, lazily. But Sandra had had enough of his demands and peeled a cap instead.

Celebrity quote:
“The bigger the cap, the bigger the peelin'

Come through, something ill, missin' the ceilin'

What influenced my raps? Stick ups and killings

Kidnappings, project buildings, drug dealings...”
—Rapper Nas on the song Hip Hop is Dead

Nas says he was influenced by kidnappings, project buildings and drug dealings. Perhaps, but he was also influenced by Ice Cube. The first line of this excerpt comes from that rapper’s 1991 song Steady Mobbin’.

Nas is the not first to borrow from that song. The line, a rap version of “the bigger they come, the harder they fall,” can also be found quoted by Stat Quo on Young Buck’s Walk With Me, Ludacris on Roll Out and Ice Cube himself on No Vaseline.

Another interesting (and related) word in this popular new song is llama. Nas tells the story of a group of wealthy and dangerous men out in their car with three of these, looking for revenge. But of course, he doesn’t mean the cute, furry Peruvian creatures. While the idea of pack animals as the new fashionable pet of the rich and famous doesn’t seem that far-fetched, in rap parlance, a llama is a great big gun.

Take a look in our bookstore for books and DVDs on all kinds of slang! This week’s pick: The Wu-Tang Manual: Enter the 36 Chambers, Volume One. If you’re interested in classic rap, this fun book by group member The RZA has a lot of great stuff, including the history and philosophy of the group, plus a mini slang dictionary and several Wu-Tang classic songs translated for non-rappers.