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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Golden Girls, Hip-Hop Edition

Watching the American Music Awards last weekend, I was struck by an odd pattern I recognized in the names chosen by some hip-hop artists: old-lady names for young black men. It's as if they're choosing their monikers from an old Lutheran church newsletter, circa 1961.

Nelly: He's been around a while, and I still don't get it. In gay slang dating back to the 1940's, nelly or nellie describes stereotypical gay effeminate behavior. Pretty much the opposite of this dude:


Another association for the name is the character Nellie Forbush in South Pacific. Nelly's gonna wash that man right out of his hair, perhaps by killing him execution-style.


I'd never heard of Flo Rida before watching the awards, but his name is a hoot. So many levels of (unintentional? intentional?) queerness. First, as a riff on the state name Florida, it's a great drag name, competing in my mind for favorite status with Bertha Venation (that To Wong Foo movie) and Ida Slapter (a drag performer in Puerto Vallarta). Seond, it conjures up bags of frozen potatoes, a la Ore Ida, with which it rhymes beautifully. Finally, he shares a first name with Flo, Polly Holiday's wisecracking waitress on Alice. Smack your chewing gum and say, "Kiss my grits, m***er f***er!"



I was worried that my third example of the oldladyfication of hip-hop was a strech until I visited the official website of Lil Wayne. I looked in vain for the apostrophe that would indicate that "Lil" was a contraction of "little." It isn't there. I have to conclude that Lil is in fact short for Lillian. Lillian Wayne is quite a pretty name.

I bet she makes a mean casserole for those church suppers.

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