The City Speaks


A born and bred city rat, I can’t help but feel New York coursing through my veins and, more often than not, the local lingo pour out my mouth. The majority of the slang i’m talking about is influenced by Hip Hop culture as it spread and evolved across the city starting in the 1970s. It’s time to get schooled, yo.

A Minute
Yes, still a unit of time. “A minute” in New York slang, however, adds up to far more than 60 seconds. While “a minute” represents no exact timeframe, it’s used to express long periods of time, most often when indicating that it has been a while since you’ve seen someone.

“Yo, I haven’t seen you in a minute”

“Mad” has managed to spread far beyond the borders of New York City, and is used mad often (there’s a hint). Similar to the “Hella” of California, or the “Wicked” of New England, “Mad” is an adverb used to describe a lot of something.

“I just saw the new Lord of the Rings, it was mad good!”

The City
Ah, “The City.” It’s no secret that New Yorkers have extreme pride in the city they grew up in, and for good reason. That being said, we tend to think of NYC as the center of the universe. That’s why no matter where you are, a New Yorker will always refer to New York, and more specifically Manhattan, as “The City.”

“Where are you?” “I’m in Brooklyn. I’ll be back in The City tomorrow.”

Thank god for spring, am I right? Hopefully you won’t have to bring this one out until next winter. “Brick” means freezing cold. Like “I can’t feel my face” kind of cold.

“Brrr...It’s brick out here.”

They say that Philly is the city of brotherly love, I’m still not sure why. Anyway, brotherhood is big in New York too. Son is used most often when referring to a close friend, or as placeholder for someone whose name you don’t know.

“Yo, son, can you grab me a soda while you’re up?”

While I’m not entirely sure why we even have a name for these, especially because 110% of New Yorkers don’t have their drivers license, the term “Whip” is slang for car, and is most often used to refer to a expensive, luxury car.

“Damn! Check out that whip. I need to get me one of those.”

Finally, that beautiful green paper that makes New York the Capitalist center of the universe: Money. while there is no shortage of slang terms for money in New York (bread, dough, green, paper, cheddar, etc.) guap, to me, is by far the most New York.

“I’ll give you these tickets when you give me that guap.”

Sebastian is a user experience designer based in Brooklyn. He was born in New York, can you tell? Challah back.