Monday, October 6, 2014

Hip Hop, Doo Wop, And Country Music Songs That Include Pick Up Lines

Edited by Azizi Powell

I knew nothing about the 2008 Hip-Hop song "Shakin My Head" (smh) by Detail featuring Flo Rida until I did some online research bout the vernacular meaning of smh. As a result of that research I leaned that (apart from "shaking one's head" meaning "no" in many cultures, that gesture also can mean exasperation, disgust, and/or disdain at something or someone who is foolish, ignorant, or offensive. Read more about

However, in the Hip-Hop song "Shakin My Head", that gesture means something completely different - "smh" is a gesture usually done by males to convey their appreciation of a female's sexy [hot] body. As such, that gesture is done after looking her up and done (otherwise known as "ogling her" and "checkin [a girl] out". As such, this meaning of "shakin my head"- along with utterances of the multi-purpose phrase "un un un" or the phrase "ah suki suki" join cat calls and wolf whistles as something that is done whilee ogling attractive women. In the United States cat calls and wolf whistles are generally associated with males of any race or ethnicity (with "ethnicity" in the USA meaning Latino/Hispanic), shaking one's head while saying "un un un" or "ah suki suki" is mostly associated with African American males.

Here's a lyric excerpt of Detail featuring Flo Rida's song "Shakin My Head"
"I'm shakin my head
Hey Hey
And all these fly girls
Its like
Hey Hey Hey
And they gonna need someone
So hot hot hot
Tight jeans and bodies like
Hey Hey Oh Yeah
Got me shakin my head"
"fly girls are so hot" = A fly girl is one who is not only attractive, but is also "hip" (to urban African American street culturee. A female who is "hot" is one who has a sexy body.

WARNING: As is the case with many (but not all) Hip-Hop songs, that record includes sexualized slang references for body parts, and profanity. For that reason, I'm not going to link to the video. However, what disturbs me most about that song and many other Hip-Hop/R&B songs is how females are objectified as a body which males can use just for sexual purposes. Any female who is considered "hot" by males is "game" to be ogled. These records reflect and reinforce the societal belief that females should feel complimented if they are the recepient of "cat calls", "wolf whistles" and/or other forms of ogling. Note: "Cat" is a referent for females, while "wolf" (and "dog") refer to males. All of these animal referents have negative connotations. However, regarding ogling and "picking up" females, they usually are considered to be positives.

The African American vernacular phrases "spit game" is another term for trying to attract the attention of an attractive female, mainly for sexual purposes. Another way of saying this is "trying to "hook up" with someone, although "hooking up" may also describe romantic relationships which also may involve sex. Males who are trying to hook up with females often use "pick up" lines. "Hitting on" [someone] is an African American vernacular term for the using pick up lines to attract the attention of a female. In this regard "hitting on" doesn't mean to physically attact someone. I think that the phrase "hitting on" came from the sports term "to score a hit", but I'm not sure about that.

There are several websites that list Hip-Hop/R&B songs that include pick up lines. One of those sites is
Here's an excerpt of that article's introduction:
“Hip Hop and R&B have been using pick up lines for as long as we can remember. While these lyrical lines can be very entertaining and funny, some of them are getting out of hand. These lines are some how provoking lames every where to feel they have a chance. Unfortunately for them, they are falling victim to the hip hop
pick up line.

Many “unorginators” also know as biters are plaguing the streets and clubs fully equip with your favorite artists lines. Just in case any of you imitation stars read this you are not Jay-Z, Usher, Diddy, or any other celebrity for that matter. “Excuse me miss” is so old you have to use it in elderly homes...

Lines You Should Never Use

“What’s ya name what’s ya sign….”
Notorious B.I.G - Big Poppa

“Bet ya man can’t do it like that…..”
Fat Joe - Bet Ya Man Can’t

“Back seat of my jeep lets swing an episode.”
LL COOL J - Back Seat

“Excuse me miss I’m the sh*t you should come hang with me.”
Jay-Z - Excuse Me Miss"
The asterisks in the spelling of the "curse words" were in the original article.

Here's an excerpt of the 2008 Hip Hop/R&B song "What's Your Name" by Usher:
"Ey Girl
Ey ey ey girl
Ey ey eh eh ey girl

Whats your name?
Baby, whats your number?
Cuz girl you got me, you got a brother wondering if you wanna, homie and a lover
I can be you friend till the end

Girl, wassup
Im going crazy
Ey girl wassup
Cuz i wanna know if i can love ya
Yo girl wassup
Yo wont ya be my lady ah?
Ey girl wassup
I wanna know who you are
Whats your name?
I wanna know who you are
Whats your name?
I wanna know who you are and make you a star
Girl, im giving you everything cuz my love is yours...
I'm not linking to this video for the same reasons that I gave for that earlier Hip Hop example. The photograph for that song shows Usher looking out of a car smiling.

A number of songs with pick up lines include the question "What's Your Name?" Foremost among those songs is this now classic 1962 Doo Wop song

Whats your name - Don and Juan - 1962

Musicman96Published on Oct 11, 2013
Here are the lyrics to that song:
(Written by Claude Johnson)*

What's your name? Is it Mary or Sue?
What's your name? Do I stand a chance with you?
It's so hard to find a personality with charms like yours for me
Ooh-ee, ooh-ee, ooh-ee

I stood on this corner waiting for you to come along
So my heart could feel satisf-i-ied
So please let me be your Number One
Under the moon, under the stars, and under the sun

Oh-oh, what's your name? (what's your name?) Is it Mary or Sue?
What's your name? Do I stand a chance with you?
It's so hard to find a personality with charms like yours for me
Ooh-ee, ooh-ee, ooh-ee

What's your name?
What's your name?


Claude Johnson is one of the vocalist. The other vocalist is Roland Trone

Hip-Hop & R&B (Doo Wop) aren't the only genre of American music that contains songs with pick-up lines. However, romance is far less often a "hook up" goal in Hip Hop songs than in other music genre's songs that have pick up lines. For example, there are several online articles that list Country music songs that have pick up lines. One of those sites is The #3 song on that list is Hank Williams' "Hey Good Lookin'"

Hank Williams ~ Hey, Good Lookin' (Mother's Best Flour Radio Show)

GatorRock788, Published on Jan 21, 2014

At the peak of his career in 1951 Hank Williams recorded 143 songs for the Mother's Best Flour Company radio shows.
Regarding that song, the editor of that article writes
"Pickup Line: "Hey, good lookin' / Whatcha got cookin'? / How's about cookin' somethin' up with me?"

This timeless track showcases all the best qualities of a great pickup line: Keep it short and to the point. A simple rhyme and clever metaphor are a recipe for pickup success.”
As an aside, notice the dropped "g" in the title and pronunciation of the word "looking". This exemplifies the fact that dropping the 'g' occurs in American language usages besides African American English.

While these songs' tune, and/or beats, and/or lyrics may be aesthetically pleasing, there's increasing awareness that ogling females -saying pick up lines - often is a form of street harrasment. It's unfortunate that the phrase "street harrasment" isn't even mentioned in Wikipedia's article about pick up lines Here's Wikipedia's definition of pick up lines:
"A pick-up line or chat-up line is a conversation opener with the intent of engaging an unfamiliar person for romance or dating. Overt and sometimes humorous displays of romantic interest, pick-up lines advertise the wit of their speakers to their target listeners.

They are most commonly used by men who pick up women."
Nor is street harassment mentioned in any online article that I found about songs with pick up lines. Yet street harassment is a real and even walking home from school or standing at a bus stop can be dangerous for females all because of men trying to attract a female's attention, and rarely for the purpose of romance or "dates".

One YouTube video on street harassment is "Black Woman Walking - By Tracey Rose (Still Think This Is A Joke?)"
Note: One comment that includes profanity is found in the beginning of the video.

Needless to say, it's not only Black females that are subject to street harrassment, and it isn't only Black males who ogle, cat call, wolf whistle, and throw pick up lines at females. Unfortunately, that kind of behavior is widespread in the United States, and the only signs that this custom will change is the rising awareness and advocacy of women who have taken on this issue.

More power to them.

This post is presented for cultural and sociological purposes.

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1 comment:

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