Serious Question: Can We Turn Down On The Turnt Up?

July 11, 2013  |  

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It’s almost the weekend and you know what that means? It’s time to get things Turnt Up, up in here.

And by Turnt Up, I mean that if I hear someone say Turnt Up one more got-damn time I will put on some Doc Martin boots, pick up a trashcan and get it Turnt Up through somebody’s plate glass window. Okay, I’m not going to do that. But I will be making really funny faces at you, which I hope will make you feel uncomfortable. So there!

For those unaware, Turnt Up is part of a long tradition in the black community of phrase shortening, where words are smooshed (see what I did there) together to make a new term. In this case, Turnt up is a shortened version of Turn It Up, which we know as another lame (mostly white boy) American colloquialism to describe the period when the energy of person or a space is about to go to the next level. The term Turnt Up has been around for quite a while, mostly used by blacks regionally in places in the South and out West of America. However as of late, Turnt Up has spread to other parts of America, in particularly in the most Northern of black enclaves where southern-rooted expressions are normally frowned upon. And this, I blame on Ciara.

Actually I don’t just blame Ciara (always blame the woman right?) as there were plenty of other artists prior to her – including Roscoe Dash, Talib Kweli, Yo Gotti among others – who were all about getting Turnt Up. But she had to get it Super Turnt Up. And we all know that adding “super” as a prefix to a word makes it infinitely far superior. So now you know folks have to top being “super” because there are levels to this -ish. And if you watched the last episode of “Love & Hip Hop: ATL” you realize that it reached it cataclysmic peak, where in one segment alone Turnt Up was used a total of 152-million times over the course of 1 minute and a half conversation. Who exactly was turnt up?

Well, Mimi was all about “speaking slowly and over-enunciating every syllable for unneeded emphasis-Turnt Up. K Michelle was extra loud and in need of Ritalin and a hug-Turnt Up. Ariane was “cough-cough, there’s something in my throat but it certainly ain’t a singing voice”-Turnt Up. Mama Dee was One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest-Turnt Up. Joseline was representing hard for the Boriquas (because nothing said Puerto Rican more than that colorful the-Hell?-ensemble)-Turnt Up. Rasheeda: “If he said they turnt up and she said they turnt up then they turnt up…” was channeling Angela Basset in Waiting to Exhale but “I went to the bathroom at the part of the movie when she used the accelerant to light the fire”-Turnt Up. And Bambi the purveyor of Turnt Up groupie antics was all about “I’m going to have some Turnt Up on my Turnt Up with a side of Turnt Up and extra Turnt Up but please hold the Turnt Up“-Turnt Up. Basically, the whole damn cast is Turnt Up.

And like any good ear worm, it has clawed its way up through our eardrums and hatched in the brains of every single person in my timeline. Mothers and Facebook models; dads and deadbeats, teachers, lawyers, trashmen, and that guy, who you are not sure what he does but he always has money; they are all now Turnt Up. And they are doing it in the less likely Turnt Up times, events and places like “waiting on the bus, about to get Turnt Up if it don’t turn up soon” or “Just Turnt Up this baked macaroni and cheese with some sprinkled Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs…” or “PRAISING HIM UP IN THE FRONT ROW!!!!!!, listening to Pastor give a powerful word. #SaintsTurntUpAllTheWayForJesus.” Everybody is turnt up for everything except to vote; or to march for justice or to volunteer with children; or do some sort of social changing task, which might need some of that exuberant energy to complete.

Okay, I’m beginning to sound a lot like some of your mommas. But I seriously can’t wait for the day when the phrase Turnt Up wears out its welcome and goes off to colloquialism heaven with “Bling” and “Swag.” Perhaps old and mostly white middle America will get a hold of it and make it so lame that no one will want to say it again. Maybe one day soon, Kathie Lee will turn to Hoda and says, “…and next, you are going to want to stick around as we get Turnt Up in the kitchen with Emeril Lagasse, who will be making his Pop-A-Molly I’m Sweatin’ Spicy Shrimp and Andouille Over Charleston-Style Grits… Mmm, sounds wonderful Kathie. So Glad I woke up in my new Bugatti for this…”

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