Edited by Azizi Powell
Revised July 19, 2017
This post provides information, comments, and examples of what I refer to as "yo greasy grimey granny" playground chants or verses in other playground chants and rhymes.
The content of this post is provided for folkloric and cultural purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to all those who are featured in these videos and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
The content of this post was revised on November 22, 2014.
"Yo greasy grimey granny" (also known as "Yo bald headed Granny", "Yo greasy stank granny" and similar titles) is a taunting (insult) chant that begin with the words "Yo Mama Yo Daddy". I believe the text (words) and the textual structure of this rhyme are indicative of its African American origins.
Judging from YouTube video examples, and other online content, these chants appears to be rather widely known in the United States among children and youth regardless of race/ethnicity. Videos of this rhyme document that these rhymes are chanted without any accompanying action, except for rhythmical body movements.
I'm uncertain when "Yo mama, yo daddy, yo greasy grimy granny rhymes" were first chanted. However, the anecdotal comments from certain YouTube videos & their viewer comment threads indicate that various versions of this song were known as early as the 1980s.
The verse " my mother short and fine/she has a butt like mine/ and when she walks down the street/all the cars go beep beep beep" is very closely related to "Yo Greasy Grimey Granny" rhymes and similar lines may be included in those "Granny" rhymes.
The core (basic) lines of "yo greasy grimey granny" chants are:
yo greasy grimey granny
Instead of "yo greasy grimey granny", some chanters say "yo greasy stank granny" or "yo bald headed granny".
The lyrics then diverge. Common versions indicate that granny "is 99 and thinks she's fine" (with "fine" here meaning "good looking"). Other common versions skip that line and indicate that granny "has a big behind/like Frankenstein" or "has a big behind/she goes out with Frankenstein".
In the context of this song/rhyme, the word "Yo" means "Your".
"Frankenstein", of course, is the fictitious monster; a "behind" is a "butt" or "booty", and "goes out with" means "to date". Another very common line after "greasy grimey granny" or "bald headed" granny is "with a hole in her panties". There may also be a line about granny sitting on the toilet, which increases the fun, risque nature of this song/rhyme. And there are lots of other versions of this rhyme.
With regard to the version of this chant that has the lines "yo bald headed granny", I think it's important to note that "bald headed" is meant to be a put down (insult). The descriptor "bald headed" is also commonly found in the "mama's having a baby" playground rhymes. Those rhymes are also known as "Fudge Fudge call The Judge. More comments about "bald headed" as an insult will be found in an upcoming pancocojams post.
The core lines for "yo mama, yo daddy, yo greasy grimey granny" are often found in other playground rhymes. Among those examples are the very popular rhymes "Bang Bang Choo Choo Train", "Miss Suzie Had A Steamboat", and "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky".
"Yo Greasy Grimy Granny" ("Yo Bald headed Granny") chants demonstrate the importance of dramatization in the performance of children's songs and rhymes. By "dramatization" I mean performing a particular role or roles as exemplified by changing one's voice and mannerisms. Additional comments about this point are found below.
The military cadence "My Old Granny, She's 91" is probably related to the children's chant "Yo greasy grimy granny". If that cadence is older than the chant, than it's probable its source. Both compositions focus on grannies of a certain age, with the cadence chronicling progressive ages of the person chanting's grandmother while the standard form of the children's chant focuses on one age of someone else's grandmother. Both compositions have the same two line rhyming pattern, but that is the usual pattern for many music genres. One significant difference is that the military cadence praises the grandmother while the children's chant insults her. Here's one example of that military cadence:
My grand mama was ah 92
She used to PT like ah me and you
My grand mama was ah 96
She did her PT just for kicks
My grand mama was ah 107
Well, the poor girl died and she went to heaven
My grandmamma was ah 98
She went side-straddle hoppin' through the pearly gates
My grandmamma was ah 109
She had oh JC double and dime
Lo righta layo
ah left right alayo
-Jellisrellish, YouTube video, Jul 25, 2010
Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/11/my-old-granny-shes-91-military-cadence.html for a pancocojams post on "My Old Granny, She's 91 (military cadence videos, lyrics, & notes).
CATEGORIZING THIS CHANT
I categorize "Yo greasy grimy granny" (and related titles) as pre-dozens rhymes. "The Dozens" is one name for the African American originated informal game in which insults are exchanged one at a time between two people. "Yo mama" is a common beginning for many Dozens insults. By "pre-dozens" I mean that children chanting insult rhymes are mimicking the dozens and are learning how to do the dozens.
Suprahajimoto, 2011, a commenter on the "yo greasy grimy granny"video [given as the replacement Video #3 [as of June 24, 2017] agrees with this idea.Here's that comment:
"from whut i understand this was derived from basing eg; your momma jokes maybe from socal or NYC... You would start off by saying your momma...and you would return with each line as a comback saying your daddy....and continue with the rest as a comback without the other party knowing what you where going to say...but this was 35 years ago and old"
"Basing" is one of several regional terms for "playing the dozens". "eg" your mama jokes" = means the same thing as "your mama" joke, with "your mama" jokes being the same thing as "the dozens" because so many of those jokes (insults) begin with the words "Your mama [is]".
"Socal" = southern California; NYC = New York City.
Another children's rhyme that I consider to be "pre-dozens" is "Yo mama don't wear no drawers". Click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2011/10/yo-mama-dont-wear-no-drawers.html for a pancocojams post about that rhyme.
THE USE OF AFRICAN AMERICAN VERNACULAR ENGLISH WHILE CHANTING THIS RHYME
I believe that many African Americans and non-African Americans consciously or unconsciously code switch to a form of African American English while chanting "Yo mama, yo daddy, yo greasy grimy granny" chants. The use of the word "yo" instead of "you" is a clear indication of that language code switching. Note that inspite of the fact that the word "yo" has basically been retired from African American Vernacular English since at least the 1990s, it is still used in many examples of "yo mama, yo daddy, yo greasy grimey granny" chants.
The use of "stank" (meaning "stinking very badly) in one form of that chant is another example of that code switching - "Yo mama/ yo daddy/ yo greasy stank granny")
However, code switching to a form of African American English isn't limited to which words are used. That code switching is also indicated by how those words are said (pronunciation and intonation) as well as what body language accompanies that chant.
THE USE OF BODY LANGUAGE ASSOCIATED WITH CERTAIN AFRICAN AMERICANS WHILE CHANTING THIS RHYME
I believe that when many people - including African Americans -chant "yo mama, yo daddy, yo greasy grimy granny" rhymes they "put on" the pronunciation, intonations, and mannerisms that they stereotypically associate with certain African Americans. I refer to this role as "the fly girl".* However, most people -particularly most non-African Americans - probably consider this type of talk and mannerisms as "acting ghetto" ("acting street").
*"Fly Girl" is the title of the 1985 Hip-Hop song that was recorded by The Boogie Boys. "Fly girl" is also the title of a 1980s foot stomping cheer that had its source in that Hip Hop record, and "Flyy Girl" is the title of a 1993 urban fiction book that was written by Omar Tyree.
A "fly girl" is a very self-confident, street smart, hip, cool, Black female (or male if the performers are male) who has a lot of "swag". (The comparable term "fly boy" wasn't used nearly as much as "fly girl", probably because of the negative connotations that were and still are associated with calling Black men boys.)
It's important to note that both Black and non-Black people (in these videos and I believe also in the general public) use those African American speech patterns & body gestures when they are acting out the fly girl role. The problem is that many non-Black people may not realize that when most African American do it, we're acting.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF CODE SWITCHING TO AFRICAN AMERICAN ENGLISH WHILE CHANTING A RHYME
"Shabooya Roll Call" is another example of the use of what I believe to be stereotypical African American "fly girl" ("ghetto/street") speech patterns and mannerisms while chanting certain American rhymes In the case of that cheer, YouTube videos suggest that people change their voices and mannerisms to mimic persons who performed that cheer in the 2006 movie Bring It On: All Or Nothing. I think that it's worth noting that the roles that are being dramatized in the cafeteria cheer scene from that movie scene are of two African Americans and one Latina. However, many of the people performing "Shabooya Roll Call" in YouTube videos appear to be White (non-Latina). Given the exaggerated mannerisms of the female characters in that movie scene, especially in the case of Kirresha, the second Black girl in that movie, I believe that it's particularly concerning if people think such depictions exemplify real life Black females and Latina.
I want to emphasize that people of the same race/ethnicity may consciously or unconsciously put on intonations & mannerisms that are stereotypically associated with persons within their race/ethnicity. That kind of role playing is a key feature of confrontational taunting foot stomping cheers . "Shabooya Roll Call" is just one example of that sub-category of children's (usually African American girls) cheers.
Click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuZHjpp8T_k&feature=related for a video example of females performing a dramatization of "Shabooys Roll Call". Also, click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/01/right-rhyming-pattern-for-shabooya-roll.html for a pancocojams post on "Shabooya Roll Call".
FEATURED VIDEOS, LYRICS, AND COMMENTS
I don't believe that most people who chant this rhyme are aware that they are using a particular type of African American speech pattern and particular types of body gestures that are wrongly associated with all African Americans to act out a particular role while performing this song. I want to be clear that I don't think that this role playing is done to mock, insult, or otherwise ridicule Black people. But I think that it's indicative of how pervasive African American speech patterns and African American originated body gestures are in the United States so much so that (it seems to me that) ) a large number of non-Black people can unconsciously mimic us to and believe that it that mimicking is authentic.
As to what I mean by mimicking Black speech patterns and Black originated body gestures: notice the change in tone and demeanor between those persons in the videos who talk before and after they sing "Yo Mama, Yo Daddy, Yo Greasy Grimy Granny" (or "Bald Headed Granny"). Also, notice the head bobbing, leaning forward into someone else's space (and therefore an aggressive motion), and the eye roll or side eye that is found during the performance of this song. In addition, I found it interesting that the little girl in Video #2 places her right hand or her hip, an aggressive, "I mean business" stance that is typically identified with Black females.
Without any further comments, here are the featured videos and the song's (rhymes') lyrics with the last video added just for fun:
Example #1: Yo Mama, Yo Daddy, Yo greasy stank granny!
Uploaded by CinciDiva on Feb 13, 2011
Yo Mama -- Yo Daddy -- Yo greasy stank granny! LOL!
yo greasy stank granny
she got holes in her panties
she got a big behind
your mama got a big oh butt
"Stank" is African American English for "really stinks". No past tense is implied by the this form of "stink".
The African American mother in this video indicates that she remembers this video because she is "a child of the 80s"...
The last line "your mama got a big oh butt" is a floating line that can be found throughout African American culture. It's a rip [dis, insult] to say to someone that "your mama got a big butt". However, female teens and young/middle age women who have big butts are usually viewed favorably [as in the R&B/Hip Hop song "Da Butt"], although if the female's butt is considered to be too big, she may be teased for that physical feature. One hurtful teasing referent is to call a girl with a very big butt a "Berta Butt". This taunt probably predates Jimmy Castor's song "Bertha Butt Boogie", but was greatly popularized by that record.
Example #2: "Your Bald Headed Grammy"
Uploaded by 5beachbabes on May 5, 2011
Your mamma, your daddy, your bald headed grammy, she's 99, she thinks she's fine, she's going out with Frankenstein......
I've mentioned above that this little girl uses a lot of African American derived gestures in her performance of this rhyme. I wonder how she learned these gestures.
To zero in on one word used in this video, in my experience, the word "grammy" is usually used as a referent for "grandmother" by non-Black Americans, but that may not be the case throughout the entire United States.
Video #3: Bald Headed Granny
The video that was initially showcased is no longer available. However, here's my transcription of that 2011 video and my comment about it.
Talk to the hand,
Talk to the butt,
Talk to the man at Pizza Hut
Your bald headed granny
Go granny, go granny
Go bald headed granny
In my opinion, the girls in this video don't use any African American speech patterns. However, the saying "talk to the hand" originated among African Americans. A related video of "talk to the hand" is found below.
Here's another similar video:
Greasy Granny Gotta Hole in Her Panty
SmileyD Published on Nov 21, 2007
Little diddy I used to sing as a kid....
Yo Mama, Yo Daddy, Your Greasy Granny
gotta hole in er panty
Got a big behind, a like Frankenstein
She go beep beep beep down Sesame Street!
Video #4: Yo Bald Headed Granny
Uploaded by raleighsarusrex on Nov 13, 2007
Yo bald headed granny
She thinks she's fine
But she's goin out with Frankenstein
The smallest boy says this dozens "rip" (insult) towards the end of this video:
"Your mama so fat that she plays pools with the planets, oh baby!"
"Your mama so fat" is a typical beginning phrase for the dozens -at least for juvenile versions of the dozens. Notice how the boy says "Oh baby!".
This video features a lot of African American English "dozens style intonations. Also, notice how the biggest boy bobs his head and leans forward with a serious, "grittin" (scowling) look on his face, particularly at the end of this recitation. I think this is done in imitation of the common stance that Hip- Hop rappers do.
Video #5: Mama, Yo Daddy.....
Mandy Bruce - Sherman Uploaded on Oct 19, 2011
Isaiah singing one of their crazy songs.....
Your mommy, your daddy
Your bald-headed granny.
She thinks she's fine
She's went out with Frankenstein
Go granny, go go granny.
Her breath stinks really bad.
She needs some tic-tacs.
Not no TIC
Not no TAC.
Just regular tic-tacs.
This young African American boy starts this rhyme with a Hip-Hop pose, but reverts to "regular" American recitation body language during most of the rhyme. He also uses mainstream American English in his recitation of this rhyme (Note that he says "your mommy, your daddy" instead of "Yo mama, yo daddy").
Example #6: YO MamA yo daddy yo bald headed granny
100hikick, Uploaded on Feb 13, 2011
Yo bald headed granny
She thinks she's fine
But she breakin down with Frankenstein
Go granny, go go granny.
In this context, "she breakin down" means she is showing off her best dance moves.
Obviously, the robot's speech pattern is a robotic monotone which is far different from any form of Black speech pattern. However, I smiled when I saw the robot doing a hip-hop dance. Given the Black roots of this rhyme, I thought that was quite fitting.
Example #7: Yo Bald headed Granny
sonnym2004, Uploaded on Jul 1, 2011
This video is of six Black siblings (girls and boys) chanting a rhyme that includes a version of "Yo greasy grimey granny". That version is combined with a number of different rhymes. The last portion of this rhyme is given in italics as an indication that I'm not certain of my transcription of those words -which is a shame, as that portion was a taunting rhyme that I haven't come across before or since.
Note: The video starts in the middle of the rhyme that is commonly known as "Ooh ah, I wanna piece of e pie".
Meat too rough, I wanna ride a bus.
Bus too full, I wanna ride a bull.
Bull too black, I want my money back.
Money back too green, I wanna jelly bean.
Jelly bean too red, I wanna go to bed.
Bed not made, I want some lemonade.
Lemonade too sour, I wanna take a shower.
Shower too cool, I wanna be a fool.
Fool too dumb, I wanna suck my thumb.
Thumb too dirty, I wanna ride a birdy.
Birdy too slow, and that's all I know.
Now it's time to count to ten.
Whoever mess up, starts all over again.
[counting fast] 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
Brickwall waterfall, girl you think you know it all
You don't I do, so push away that atttitude.
So push away that atttitude.
Elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist
Shut your mouth and talk to this.
Now wait, come back.
You need a tic tac.
Not a tic, not a tac.
But the whole six pack.
My mama, my daddy, my bald headed granny
She thinks she's fine
But she goin out with Frankenstein
Go granny, go granny, go granny.
A crazy, funky, chicken hat
Oh snap! Hey Dougie
Chile if I look like you
You know that we'd be mad
We see right through your funky hat.
[one child makes sound like a chicken crowing]
Repeat the verse that begins with "What's that".
While chanting, these children make pantomine motions and point (at each other at times, and pointing forward). Dance motions are also performed during certain portions of this chant, by one boy in particular.
In contrast to other videos that are included in this post, although the words after the "I wanna ride a bus" verses were definitely taunting rhymes, I don't think that these children put on any Hip-Hop or fly girl body language or pronunciation/intonations.
RELATED VIDEO: Talk to the hand dr.evil
Uploaded by dfales14 on Feb 22, 2007
In this short clip "Dr Evil" said "Talk to the hand 'cause the face don't want to hear it anymore."
The actual African American saying is "Talk to the hand 'cause the face isn't listening." This gesture has its roots in the Kongo culture of Central Africa. That same culture is where these two other familiar hand gestures come from: the angry or determined Black woman's stance of two hands on the hips & the "stop right there" gesture one hand on the hip with the right hand held palms up in front of the waist. This last gesture is closely associated with the R&B group The Supremes 1960s hit song "Stop In The Name Of Love".
Notice the side eye [eye moving from side to side] and the head bobbin stances. Pointing to the hand is an inauthentic aspect in that it isn't usually done in African American culture. Also, usually the right hand is used for "talk to the hand" and not the left hand as done in this video. However, given the cultural connotations associated with the use of the left hand, maybe it was intentional for Dr. Evil to use his left hand for this gesture instead of his right hand.
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