Friday, April 1, 2016

What "Mic Drop" REALLY Means (history, video examples, & comments)

Edited by Azizi Powell

On April 1, 2016 Google tried too hard to come up with an April Fool's Day prank, and punked* itself.

"Ooops. That wasn't very funny, Google.

Google's April Fools' prank backfired Friday, making a lot of users very angry and forcing the company to take it down early.

The company announced Thursday it was introducing a "Mic Drop" feature in Gmail, placing a new orange "Mic Drop" option next to the regular send button.

It was designed to end email chains by attaching a gif of an angry minion dropping a microphone, and effectively shutting down the conversation.

"Everyone will get your message, but that's the last you'll ever hear about it. Yes, even if folks try to respond, you won't see it," Google (GOOG) explained in a blog post announcing the gag.

Google traditionally rolls out fun features on April Fools' Day, leaving them live for a couple of days. Last year, the company delighted users by allowing them to turn Google Maps into Pac-Man game.

But this year's gag didn't go as planned, after a number of people accidentally clicked the button while sending professional emails.

"This is horrible -- just sent an email to a client with this stupid icon on it. I can't afford these stupid pranks!," one user complained on Google's product forum."
*punked itself = tricked itself

Did you ever wondered where the phrase "mic drop" came from? This pancocojams post is for you. This post also includes three YouTube video examples of "mic drops". Selected comments from these videos' discussion threads are also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for historical, folkloric, socio-cultural, and entertainment purposes.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to those who are featured in these embedded videos. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

[revised April 2, 2016]
Microphones (mics) are used to amplify sounds. A person dropping the mic is indicating that no one else needs to use the microphone because what he or she said (or performed) can't be beat (topped) so no one else should waste his or her time trying to be heard.

Participants of rap battles or dissin' (The Dozens) insult battles may not actually hold or use microphones. Instead, those watching might yell "Mic drop!" at the end of a particular rap or insult exchange, thus indicating their approval of that particular rap or insult and their belief that no subsequent rapper or Dozens challenger could possibly do better. Or there could be no actual yelling of the phrase "mic drop", but that phrase might be used to describe how one participant did so well that the competition was effectively over.

These excerpts are given in no particular order. I've assigned numbers for referencing purposes only.
Excerpt #1:
Part of a series on Rap / Hip-Hop.
Updated October 2015 by Don.
Mic Drop and Drop the Mic are expressions referring to the practice of intentionally letting a microphone fall to the ground as a display of bold confidence following a successful performance. Colloquially, the expressions have also been used to celebrate the delivery of an impressive argument or insult.

According to an article on Slate titled “The History of the Mic Drop,” the practice of letting a microphone drop on stage was popularized by rappers and comedians in the 1980s. The earliest known example occurred during comedian Eddie Murphy’s 1983 stand-up special Delirious, in which he drops the microphone on stage after a fan yells “Shut up bi&ch!”* at a heckler .** The earliest known reference to the practice in hip hop is contained within the 1987 track “I Ain’t No Joke” by Eric B. & Rakim, in which Rakim raps “I used to let the mic smoke, now I slam it when I;m done and make sure it’s broke”

[Pancocojams editor: video examples of the mic drops that are mentioned in this article are found on that article's page.]

During a scene in the 1988 comedy film Comedy to America, the lead singer of the fictional R&B band Sexual Chocolate finishes a song and yells “Sexual Chocolate!” while dropping the microphone ***. In the 2000s, comedian Chris Rock employed the mic drop at the end of his stand-up sets). On September 5th, 2006, a theater house manager published a post on his personal blog,[3] which urged performers to stop damaging microphones by dropping them on stage.

On October 4th, 2011, Urban Dictionary[1] user Nicki Menagerie submitted an entry for “mic drop,” defining it as “when a performer or speaker intentionally drops/throws the microphone to the floor after an awesome performance.” On February 7th, 2012, the Comedy Central YouTube channel uploaded a skit from the show Key & Peele, in which United States President Barack Obama approaches a street rapper, takes his microphone and says “I’m the leader of the free world” before letting the mic fall to the ground ****. Within three years, the clip gained over 4.5 million views and 1,800 comments. On April 24th, Obama appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where he sings a “slow jam” with the show’s host before dropping the microphone on stage..."*****

On August 27th [2013], the[5] added “mic drop” to its online dictionary."...
*This word is fully spelled out in this article. In that example, Eddie Murphy didn't do a mic drop at the end of his performance, but during his performance, presumably to emphasize and/or to show his appreciation for what a fan said to a heckler.

**Excerpt #2 below points to a 1970 example of "mic drop" by White Northern Irish Rock singer Van Morrison.

***This example is shown in Video #1 below.

****This example is shown in Video #2 below.

*****Click for an earlier pancocojams post on President Obama slow jammin the news on "The Jimmy Fallon Show".

Excerpt #2:
"informal, chiefly US
1 An instance of deliberately dropping or tossing aside one’s microphone at the end of a performance or speech one considers to have been particularly impressive:
he ruffled some feathers with his acceptance speech and mic drop after winning the Best British Album award

figurative the final track is the ultimate mic drop

1.1 [AS EXCLAMATION] Used to emphasize that a discussion is at an end after a definitive or particularly impressive point has been made:
Nuff said. Mic drop!
“This is what we’re doing,” she tells him. Mic drop.

Here's a comment from that oxford online page:
Neal Buelow, Sep 21, 2015
"I'm curious if anyone knows the origin, as in the first perfomer known to "drop the mic?" According to Lester Bangs, Van Morrison did it in the early 70's. Not sure if there was someone he got the idea from."
According, Lester Bangs (born in 1948 & died in 1982) was a (White American) "rock critic... who wrote for Creem magazine and The Village Voice in the seventies and early eighties". Here's an excerpt from Lester Bang's review of a Van Morrison album: [Van Morrison's] "Astral Weeks" [album review] by Lester Bangs from "Stranded" (1979)
..."Three television shows: A 1970 NET broadcast of a big all-star multiple bill at the Fillmore East. The Byrds, Sha Na Na, and Elvin Bishop have all done their respective things. Now we get to see three of four songs from a set by Van Morrison. He climaxes, as he always did in those days, with "Cyprus Avenue" from Astral Weeks. After going through all the verses, he drives the song, the band, and himself to a finish which has since become one of his trademarks and one of the all-time classic rock 'n' roll set-closers. With consumate dynamics that allow him to snap from indescribably eccentric throwaway phrasing to sheer passion in the very next breath he brings the music surging up through crescendo after crescendo, stopping and starting and stopping and starting the song again and again, imposing long maniacal silences like giant question marks between the stops and starts and ruling the room through sheer tension, building to a shout of "It's too late to stop now!," and just when you think it's all going to surge over the top, he cuts it off stone cold dead, the hollow of a murdered explosion, throws the microphone down and stalks off the stage. It is truly one of the most perverse things I have ever seen a performer do in my life. And, of course, it's sensational: our guts are knotted up, we're crazed and clawing for more, but we damn well know we've seen and felt something."...
Italics were added by me to highlight this part of that sentence.

That said, I think it's important to note that Van Morrison threw his microphone down and stalks off stage. Those words in italics denote anger. In contrast, in its African American vernacular use, the mic is dropped out of the person's hand in a cool, unconcerned, way and the person walks off stage. The person who does a mic drop isn't wasting his or her energy showing anger. He (or she) is too self-confident to do that. (Notice the references to President Obama being "cool" in the selected comments that are quoted for Video #3 below.)

Excerpt #3:
"Drop The Mic

A phrase describing the action performed after getting the better of someone.

Calling someone out so hard that you just walk away indisputably victorious (See 8 Mile)

After serving someone, I just drop the mic, and walk away

by Partyjamo October 31, 2011
"serving" [someone] = African American Vernacular English term meaning "beating or winning against someone".

"8 Mile" is a 2002 R rated semi autobiographical American movie about a struggling White rapper. The movie, starring Eminem, includes a scene of him purposely dropping the mic at the end of a rap battle.

"Calling someone out so hard" = talking about them so bad

Excerpt #4:
"What does "drops mic" mean exactly? How did the phrase come into use?

A "mic drop" is the rap/comedy parallel to spiking a football. It says, "My performance was so definitive that there's nothing more to say."

It seems to come mostly from black culture...
Notice that the commenter wrote that "it [examples of mic drops] mostly* come from black culture". I assume that "black culture" in that comment means "African American culture".

No one really knows who was the first person to ever purposely do a mic drop. Excerpt #2 points to the first documented* use of a mic drop was by White Rock performer Van Morrison. It's possible that Van Morrison could have "invented" that drop the mic gesture or he could have picked it up from someone else.

As an African American, my sense is that one of the ways that we (African Americans) demonstrate our creativity is picking up performance ideas from anywhere and everywhere by being alert to new ways of interpreting already existing words, gestures, music, fashion, etc from Black and non-Black cultures.

The "mic drop" could be an example of this form of creativity.
*Italics added by me to highlight that word.

Here are two comments from that page:
[anonymous] Written 5 Sep 2012
"Jay Best,
My understanding is that this is what one does after completing a successful rap battle.

You have so completely schooled the person, therefore the conversation is now over. So completely over that there is no longer any requirement for a microphone."

Trevor Sullivan, Linguist, written 12 Feb 2012
"It's a borrowing from rap culture and stand-up comedy since the 80s, it's hard to tell which came first. When a comedian tells a jaw-dropping joke, or has made some kind of awesome point, or a rapper in a rap battle has just laid down. Most of the modern fascination with it originates with this Comedy Central Sketch that involves the President taking part in a rap battle, then dropping the mic, which the president himself then parodied, leading to a renewed public interest in the practice."

Video #1: Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate - Coming to America

Russell Peterson, Published on Jan 31, 2013
Here are two comments from this video's discussion thread:
Christopher Slaughter, 2015
"1:59 at the end of his song. Sexual Chocolate.. (few clap).. SEXUAL CHOCOLATE!! (No one claps). Then he drops the mike! Classic! lmao."

mark alan G, 2015
"Best exit in movie history. Randy Watson!"

Video #2: Key & Peele - Obama Raps

Comedy Central Uploaded on Feb 7, 2012

President Obama schools everyone when he shows up at a rap battle.
This is a skit that was performed by African American comedians Kay & Peele. provides this information about that performance duo:
"Key & Peele is an American sketch comedy television series created by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele for Comedy Central. Both Key and Peele previously worked on MADtv.[4]

Each episode of the show consists mainly of several pre-taped sketches starring the two actors. The sketches cover a variety of societal topics, often with a focus on American popular culture, ethnic stereotypes, and race relations.[5] Key & Peele premiered on January 31, 2012[6] and ended on September 9, 2015, with a total of 53 episodes, over the course of five seasons."...
selected comments from this video's discussion thread:

I'm particularly interested in documenting the use of African American Vernacular English.

I've assigned numbers to these comments for referencing purposes only.

1. Gianfranco Gonzalez
"im the leader of the free world (then walk away like a boss)"


3. T3hL4wnm0w3rM4n2

4. Davids hidden
"straight up murdered the mic with only 7 words, DAMN!!!!!"

5. Zoe Nazario
"He says 7 words and he wins ??"

6. Psychedelic House
"How can you top that"

7. Zyril Co
"and that's how Obama met his anger translator"
This comment refers to ongoing Kay & Peele skits that features the fictitious rapper Luther who President Obama competed against in the above skit. In a number of subsequent Kay & Peele skits, Luther says what President Obama really wants to say but doesn't because Presidents are supposed to be dignified and "presidential" in public at all times. While President Obama uses standard American English words and his demeanor is calm, Luther uses African American Vernacular English, including profanity which is often bleeped out in the "Kay & Peele" Obama anger management videos that are found on YouTube.

8. Jabobacus Woofles
"Can someone explain the video? I don't understand it"

9. Chuck Kaslow
"There really isn't any way to make a comeback after that."

10. Claresa Everlasting
"It's not a howling with laughter skit; it's more subtle. The rapper is going on and on boasting that he's the man, but he's just some guy on some corner with some friends. Political beliefs aside, the President actually is 'the man' and can sum up his power, prominence, influence, etc. in 7 words and leave. The rapper has been bested and has no comeback. That's hilarious to me!"

Video #3: Obama Drops the Mic

TheEllenShow, Published on Jan 15, 2016

President Obama's last State of the Union address had an unexpected ending. Watch what happened, here!
selected comments from this video's discussion thread:

February 2016
1. Mohamed Farouk
"Did he really do that or or is it photoshop work?"

2. Bluecrusade [March 2016]
"+Mohamed Farouk It's edited."

3. Innocent
"Damn son! That was fire.. who knew politics could get people hyped!"

4. simon sharkeye
"You know it was fake right?"

March 2016
5. TriishkaMSP
"Funny how people actually think it's real"

6. Havocks Crysis
"Clearly fake, the arm changes as he moves the mic. Had me for a second though"

7. cauzin diem
"Obama is officially the coolest Prez we ever had, a real brother."

8. Rizwan Anwar
"he was mimicing ICE CUBE from the 80s. State of the union also happens to be one of the titles of his films."

9. Marceline Abadeer
"It would be awesome if he actually dropped the mic"

10. MadmanLostcity
"Obama is Probably the realist president we'll ever get. He droped the mic! Lmao.. Obama should be president for the next 4 years again."

11. Raven
"Obama be the boss tho"

12. robert beeks
"Respect from the904 to Barack Obama that's how you do it . Southside Chicago standup!!!"
"904" is apparently a telephone area code for Chicago, Illinois.

"Respect from" means "giving props to (giving proper respect to __" This is the same or very similar to "giving a shout out to __".

"Stand up" is a vernacular phrase that means to "to represent" a geographical area or group. That phrase is probably from "stand up and be counted."

13. XxXLegendGamingXxX BS
"gangster!!!! damnn"

14. Zachary See

15. ayyachris

16. salvador jacinto
"like a BOSS"

17. Lin vc
"Obama you are the man..."

18. Avi Harkishun
"Coolest President ever!"

19. Black Lightning
"Bruh I thought that was real

20. Jazmin Ochoa
"Well duh it's fake but it's funny"

UPDATE: May 1, 2016

[This video was added on Feb. 6, 2017 as I found out that the previously embedded video is no longer available.]

President Obama Drops the Mic | White House Correspondents' Dinner 2016

ABC News, Published on May 1, 2016

From the first lady to Donald Trump, everyone was fair game.
For those wondering, this really happened.

Click for a synopsis of President Obama's speech at that 2016 Dinner.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.


  1. saw a mic drop in an old b/w movie. Had I thought of it, I would have noted the movie title.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Anonymous.

      Maybe someone else will know and share which movie you're referring to.