For instance, if I say “pull up,” that can mean that I’m asking you to hit a set of 10 on the chin-up bar in the doorway, it can mean come over for a friendly gathering, or it can mean bring yo mark-ass over here I’m finna put these hands on you.
When someone says “put these hands on you,” it means they plan on fighting, squaring up, throwing hands or catching a fade.
This is where it gets tricky.
“Fade,” or rather “fading up,” can also be a request that everyone pitch in a couple dollars on something, usually reefer. Not to mention a “fade route” is a path for a wide receiver to run in football. Being “faded” is being intoxicated. “Fading” something is coloring it in a spectrum that goes from dark to light. And, of course, “a fade” is also a haircut.
And oh man, if your barber or hairstylist is nice at their job, they’ve “got bars.” But having “bars” can also mean that you know how to drive a car extremely well. Or that you’re an exceptional blunt roller. Mind you, saying that a person “got bars” can also mean they are a very skilled rapper.
(You picking up what I'm putting down?)
If a person is a skilled rapper, it’s more common for folks to say that they're “spittin' gas”/ “gassin a track.” But be careful, because “gas” can also mean high quality reefer (it always comes back to reefer).
Additionally, “gassin’” can also mean lying, or “blowing up someone’s head.” Lastly, “having gas” can mean fuel in your car’s gas tank, or indigestion in your tummy’s tank.
Context is everything, eh?
I could keep going for days about Northern Californian colloquialisms, and how tricky they are. But the mutation of words isn't specific to this region—lest I remind you of the great "glizzy" scandal of summer 2020 that had a solid portion of the Atlantic seaboard up in arms.
(The term "Glizzy" reportedly originated in the greater Washington D.C. area, and is a euphemism for hot dog, but it comes from how folks would describe a glock, or the extended clip that protrudes from a handgun. And I'm pretty sure there's some connection to male anatomy in there too.)
Point being: words often have multiple meanings. It's a fact of life. Even if every other aspect of Bay Area lingo from "bootsie" to "bipper" can be used in multiple ways, "slap" is where we as a community draw the line. I can't even think of any other words that we collectively believe should have just one meani.....
Oh, wait: "Bop." That’s another one. Because, to some, "bop" is a tasteful catchy song. But, uh, where I'm from, it means that you’re a hoe. And I mean "hoe" as in "a promiscuous person," not "a garden tool."
Ah, language. A collection of symbols that people have agreed upon, and oftentimes disagree upon. I bet as soon as the first humans started talking, an argument ensued soon after.
Look, when it boils down to it, I'm all for free speech: Say what you want, just know the consequences of your actions.
I do stand with E-40, P-Lo and many others in this fight against misuse of our innovative idioms.
And at the same time, I know words change. Language evolves, just like the world we're attempting to make sense of through the words we use.
While I envision a world where we can come together on one accord, and conquer the problems of our time—the spread of COVID, the fractured education system, economic disparity, the impending collapse of civilization—I imagine that it'll be hard to do if we're arguing about the proper use of lexicon.
In conclusion, the Raiders and 49ers are in the playoffs, Klay Thompson is back on the basketball court, housing is a human right, no one should be hungry in the wealthiest country in the world, mass incarceration is inhumane, and we don’t say "food slaps."