Edited by Azizi Powell
This is Part II of a three part series on the slang term "ratchet".
Part II provides an overview about the slang word "ratchet" and showcases two YouTube videos of the Ratchet dance. Selected comments from these videos' discussion threads are also included in this post.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/10/what-ratchet-means-how-its-slang.html for Part I of this series. Part I provides definitions of and comments about the slang word "ratchet". This post also includes a partial chronology of the slang use of the word "ratchet" by various recording artists and YouTube videographers.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/10/emmanuel-and-philip-hudson-ratchet-girl.html for Part III of this series. Part III showcases the 2012 video "Ratchet Girl Anthem" and provides the lyrics and explanations for some other African American Vernacular English terms from those lyrics.
The content of this post is presented for etymological and cultural purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos, thanks to all those who are quoted in this post, and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
OVERVIEW OF THE SLANG WORD "RATCHET"
The earliest record that includes the slang word "ratchet" was released in 1992 (the Hip Hop song "I'm So Bad" by UGK (Underground Kingz). In that record-which is full of profanity and what is commonly known as "the n word"- UGK uses "ratchet-ass" as an insult.
Notwithstanding that information, most articles and post credit Shreveport, Louisiana as the birthplace of "ratchetness". Indeed, a nickname for Shreveport is "ratchet city". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_city_nicknames_in_Louisiana.
Here's some information about Shreveport and the word "ratchet".
From http://www.nappyafro.com/2012/05/23/lets-get-ratchet-the-origin-of-ratchetness/ Let’s Get Ratchet: The Origin Of Ratchetness, by Short-T, May 23, 2012
"During my adolescent years at Southwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, I learned a new word for “ho”. “Ratchet” described my peers who participated in extra-curricular activities after school and on the weekends in backseats, someone’s mama’s bedroom, or in a movie theater. I remember in middle school we used to joke and call them, “Go Livers”. The new slang was born when the soon-to-be-King of Louisiana, Lil’ Boosie, collaborated with the local record label Lavahouse and its owner, Mandigo and made the song that would later teach everyone in Louisiana “Ratchet”, as a dance and a true meaning behind the local movement that would gain momentum...
I have heard the word that describes my small Louisiana city, used by major artists like Wiz Khalifa, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj and many other people who have probably never tasted gumbo or peeled crawfish in their lives. The worst offenders have been DJ Mustard, the producer of “Rack City” and Def Jam signee, YG. They have done several interviews describing the music landscape of the youth in California, using the same descriptions Hurricane used to explain the Shreveport lifestyle. The biggest slap in the face was the claim of creating Ratchet Music. I really did not see myself getting upset over a word that means ignorant and accurately describes the people that live that life, but not giving credit to the originators actually upsets me and anyone else that know the origin story. It obviously means a lot to some people if you are willing to claim ownership of something you did not create."...
Read more information about the word "ratchet" in Part I of this series.
Examples #1: My Cuzin Doin The Ratchet
charde06, Uploaded on May 30, 2006
In the beginning of this video, a female voice says says "Hey y'all this is my cousin (cuzin) finna to do (getting ready to do) the ratchet".
Here's selected comments from this video's discussion thread.
1. Dinene Hussain, 2006
"you taught us how to do the ratchet! Thanks! :)"
"go on gurl...pop dat colla"
Here's some information about the term "pop dat colla" from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Poppin%27%20ya%20collar
"Poppin' ya collar
A phrase generally used in the hip hop lexicon. It describes not only an action, but also a general attitude. The term was originally used in this sense by the rapper E-40. When used by E-40, and many other hip hop artists including Three 6 Mafia in their song Poppin My Collar, the term refers to the act of pulling one's collar, or the clothing where one's collar would be (as when wearing a t-shirt), with the thumb and fingertips. One then releases the clothing in varying degrees of flamboyance. Used in this sense, "poppin' ya collar" is more about the attitude and message of confidence portrayed in so doing than any clothing style (see upturned collar). E-40 immortalized the term (and the accompanying attitude), in his song Pop Ya Collar from his album Loyalty and Betrayal....
by Mr. Pompo October 24, 2006
Read my comment for #4 below about being "hard".
"LIL Momma tight. She the best i seen on you tube."
"Lil momma" - an affectionate referent that some (but not all) African Americans use for females from babies to pre-teens.
"tight" = doing something very well (in this case - dancing very well)
"she the game face on lock an load... she lookin like "im killin it you know im killin it so ummm...please hate" she kilt it though 5*
A number of commenters referred to the dancer having a "game face". "Game" here refers to a sports competition. "lock an load" (getting ready to shoot; in this sense from the beginning of her dance). "she lookin like "im killin it you know im killin it so ummm...please hate" means that she confident that she is doing very well (killin it) so her face and demeanor is saying "I dare you to criticize me (hate on me). "She kilt it through 5" probably refers to the five stars rating system that YouTube used to have = with 5 being the highest (best) score.
Read the comment below about having a "stank face" (a serious expression on one's face). Making a "stank face" might be done to convey the persona of a female who is "hard" (someone who isn't supposed to be messed with).
This face and demeanor points to the play acting that's an integral part of a lot of Black girls' recreational play. (Dancing is a part of recreational play). For instance, when Black girls chant confrontational foot stomping cheers such as "Hula Hula" (who think they bad), they aren't really looking for a fight or warning someone off. It's all part of an act.
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/06/examples-of-hula-hula-who-think-they.html for a pancocojams post on "Hula Hula" cheer.
5. Iccees Strahan
"lil mama was GETTIN IT!!!! That was hot!!!"
"Gettin it" = doing the dance very well
6. Faye Wilson
"i used to do the rachet like dat"
"killin it i know you be gettin loose in the club"
"Getting loose" means "to dance very well" maybe because one way that people can dance very well is to be loose (and not stiff).
8. Marquez West Jr.
"You killed it bit you wiz making dat stank face"
9. Lashai Mo
"To cute!! She dance like me & I'm 31yr old with her head up..Do that!!!!"
I"m 31yr. with her head up may mean "31 year old self-assured adult."
10. Jai Baxter
"I love this video because she got that confidence in her face. Even her cousin said 'The face'...LOL. She better do that. I ain't mad at her."
11. david broussard
"that song is the truth we do all got some ratchet in us!!"
12. david broussard
UGOGIR!! - "You go girl" is a statement of admiration.
13. "ooo she kno she go HARD"
"To go hard" evidences a "tough girl" demeanor (according to Black urban culture standards).
14. ceeeluvv, 2013
"ummm, ths ain't nothin but the Gangster Walk from about "92"
WARNING: Parental discretion is advised for this video.
Examples #2: Do Da Ratchet' music video Lava House feat. Lil Boosie
Adetiba 'Super-Director', Uploaded on Oct 10, 2006
'Do Da Ratchet' music video produced by Adetiba/Texas Best Productions for Lava House Records. Shreveport Louisiana aka 'Ratchet City'
Here's a description of this dance from http://latinrapper.com/blogs/?p=8810
"In the original music video for “Do Da Ratchet” you can see clubgoers and others doing the ratchet dance, and moving their arms in circular ratcheting motions. And true to the dance term’s double meaning as something hood or ghetto, at the 1:24 mark in the video** you can see what appears to be a pregnant woman holding a bottle of beer as she dances in the club."
Here are some selected comments from this video's discussion thread:
The comments are given in chronological order with the oldest comments given first except for replies. Numbers are assigned for referencing purposes only.
1. Tehran Bertrand, 2013
"just like twerkin, cheeky blakk came out with that dong twerk something in the early 90ls in new orleans and now everybody talkin bout twerk this and twerk that
2. 1975COREY, 2013
"why is this girl in the green pregnant and drinking? really?"
"Really" here infers criticism of a pregnant woman dancing and drinking at a nightclub.
3. cedric lee, 2013
"Ratchet city 318 in the built we start it dirty south Louisiana."
"in the built" = in the building (meaning "is here"). We start it etc. = "We (Louisiana) started the "dirty South" [culture].
Here's some information about the term "dirty south" from https://www.quora.com/Where-does-the-term-Dirty-South-originate-from-and-what-does-it-mean by
Christopher Lin, English, [profanity deleted] ! I speak it!, Written May 14, 2010
Dirty South refers to a subgenre of Southern rap characterised by heavy bass beats and bouncy rhythms good for dancing in clubs. The lyrical content usually focuses on sex, parties, nightlife, conspicuous consumption, and Southern culture, and the delivery is characterised by a relaxed drawl.
The genre grew out of the club scene in the southern U.S. during the late 1980s, in particular the Miami Bass style, and gained mainstream prominence with the rise of OutKast and the success of their 1994 album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. The term itself originates from the song 'Dirty South' by Goodie Mob on their 1995 debut album Soul Food. The Dirty South style remains a strong influence in lots of contemporary mainstream party-oriented hip-hop (at least, until this weird craze of Eurodance-inflected hip-hop completely takes over)."
4. ken town, 2013
"Shteveport started the rachet now the whole world hollin rachheet was up Texas Lousian!!! We in here!!"
5. Nura Fountano, 2013
"Maaan.... I'm so glad this has a time date stamp of when it was uploaded. I swear Texas and Louisiana culture is jocked the hardest. Just like them lil dudes made a come up off of teach me how to dougie. A dude out a Dallas started that dance. Well Dougie Fresh first of course. But Dallas dude did pay homage to the originator. But the world recognizes the Cali dudes for starting it. Just a shame."
6. lataviajones12, 2014
"So true LOUISIANA been on the ratchet and twerking but i guess that's what happens when you stay in a small state."
7. 228allday, 2015
"On everythang they be stealing the souths slang"
8. ceeeluvv, 2014
"this just the old gangsta walk sped up"
9. mgtaduran2 years ago
"only 500k views and over a million people say ratchet now"
This video has a total of 655,345 views as of the date of this post's publication.
This completes Part II of this three part series.
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