Slang City Mail

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June 16, 2005

Slang of the Week: chop shop (noun phrase)
a place where stolen cars are taken apart so that the individual parts can be sold

By the time Janet realized her car was missing, it was in fifteen pieces in the chop shop across town.

Celebrity quote:
“But all this is an excuse to get Stone back to his stomping grounds in southeast D.C., where he visits a chop shop manned by rapper Xzibit and -- of course! -- a crew of scantily clad female automotive experts.”
- Ty Burr, reviewing the movie XXX: State of the Union for the Boston Globe, April 2005

Xzibit is not the only rapper to play a movie character who works in a chop shop. Chinese-American rapper
Jin Au-Yeung appears as a chop shop mechanic in the 2003 action movie 2 Fast 2 Furious. And rapper Ludacris (also known as Chris Bridges) appears as a car thief in Crash (2004) who sells the stolen vehicles to chop shops.

DJs often “chop up” music as well, cutting bits and pieces to rearrange on mixtapes (illegal tapes or CDs with collections of alternate versions of popular songs--which are sometimes released before the legal versions). And chops can also mean musical skill. So it’s not surprising that some recording studios are called the “chop shop.

The late DJ Screw, from Texas, created one of the most unusual mixtape styles. His most popular signature was the “screwed and chopped” technique (also called “chopped and screwed.”) To achieve this sound, music is slowed down and chopped up to a druggy, stuttering beat. To listen to examples of this style, check out the video links on this page from MTV (warning: you may have to watch advertisements to access these files).

What’s new at Slang City?
“Up top is you getting up with it? Derty, derty is you getting crunk with it? Smokey Smoke from coast to coast, be careful, our first draw be our overdose.” What does that mean? Click for a Standard English translation of Ghetto Rock by Mos Def.