At Face Value

Once again, Solo’s back in the hizzy (house)! Don’t worry I’m not going down that road again. Instead of explaining myself, I thought I’d set this up with a somewhat daily encounter with me.

Will: Hey man, you know my wife’s Korean right?
Solo: Yeah, I could tell. Could you tell I was half-Korean when you met me?
Will: It was crazy when I found out, cause I have half-Korean nephews, but when I first met you I was like, dude he’s totally Mexican.

Being from a small town, I was mainly around White people. The only Asians I knew when I was a child was my mom and her sister. But it never occurred to me that I was halfway between Asian and White. I thought I was white until the 2nd grade. My best friends in Elementary school had very white skin, while mine seemed like it never lost it’s summer tan. Still it never occurred to me that I looked any different than anyone else.

After high school I moved onto college in Seattle, Washington. It’s more diverse than Ellensburg, but I still felt White. My first experience of feeling different than a white kid was the first day of ensemble class with my mixed Black and Spanish professor, Hadley.

Hadley: Hey man, how you doing?
Solo: Pretty good.
Hadley: Man I’m glad to see you here at this music school, I’m feeling like a lot of young brothers these days are missing out on their roots.
Solo: What?
Hadley: You know what I’m talking about.

Tru dat Hadley! Not really though. See, I’d been totally white in my mind for 18 years at that point. Then this guy comes along and assumes I’m either Black or Spanish in one meeting. That’s when I realized the world sees you literally, at face value. It’s never angered me though. If anything, it’s probably helped me in life. I’m able to sway between different races without breaking a sweat. And doing this I’ve observed one noticeable likeness of all people. Everybody’s the same!

Old Spanish Lady: Que hora, es?
Solo: What?
Old Spanish Lady: Que hora es?!?
Solo: Oh, no halbo espaniol.
Old Spanish Lady: Okay, what time is it?
Solo: 2:30.
Old Spanish Lady: Gracias, now you say, de…nada.

Then she walked off with her nose in the air. She was disappointed with me cause apparently to her, I didn’t know my native language. I did study 2 years of Spanish in high school, and I actually knew what she was asking. I just don’t like to pretend I can speak their language cause everybody here thinks I’m Spanish. I can’t walk into a corner store without the clerk telling me the amount in pesos. It’s crazy.

I guess I don’t really know what this post is about. None of these things bother me, their just experiences in my life that make me laugh. The way I see it, none of these things really matter. Maybe I’m human form of a chameleon in people’s minds. Once they can register a look in their head of what I am, they can act accordingly. Whatever the case may be, it makes for funny stories.

Solo: Hey I noticed your last name is Kim, you’re Korean, right?
Korean neighbor: Yeah.
Solo: Cool, that’s my mom’s maiden name.
Korean neighbor: (Confused) What…..wait, you’re mom’s Korean.
Solo: Yeah, my dad’s White from America, she’s originally from Seoul. I’m mixed.
Korean neighbor: (Examines my face) Ooooooooh, naw man I don’t see that at all.

One love.

I’m a Black Man Now

Guess who’s in the hiznouse? J. Solo abouts to drop bombs on ya’ll. After reading Krusty’s last comment it got me thinking about what’s happened to me in the last 5 years. Yes, I am a black man with a chain now, and yes, I know most of you need a translator to understand me. Check, or contact DA. But seriously though, it made me wonder what it is about areas of the country and how everybody’s saying the same thing, but in a different way.

Contrary to what most of my friends on the west coast think (especially Seattle), I do not hang around gangster rappers with gold chains and plated teeth. Nor do I feel any different inside. Matter of fact, I mainly work with music producers in the industry who are…NOT black. Most hip-hop producers I work with are white, or Jewish. My main producing partner and native New Yorker, Probe DMS is actually like me… quarter Chinese, quarter white, and half black. All mixed up. I’d have to say the majority of native New Yorkers are mixed, but everybody speaks the same lingo. Race has nothing to do with it.

When I lived in Seattle, everybody used to say, “yeah man, that’s tight,” meaning, “I like that.” Out here the main word is “hot,” or, “dope.” Nobody says “cool” like you might hear on the west coast. And “dude” can be heard from every kid in California. Except to New Yorkers, it sounds like “dee-ude.” Kids from Brooklyn might replace it with, “dukes.” For example:

Brooklynite: What up dukes, what’s poppin’?
Solo: Mad chillin’.
Brooklynite: Dope.


Brooklynite: Hello, how are you feeling?
Solo: Very good
Brooklynite: Good.

Now I don’t want anyone to feel offended. These are only observations I’ve made. And I do know that my speaking patterns and dialect have changed; my mother can’t even understand me on the phone anymore. It’s not forced either, in fact, while xboxing, I try to tone it down. Let me elaborate some more.

Solo: Yo, I just mercked that dude (slight mixture of west and east coast lingo).
Krusty: Did you say mercked?

“Mercked” is a Queens-based word meaning murder. Check NAS and you’ll hear it in his rhymes. If I was playing with kids from New York I might say:

Solo: Yo dun, that kid just got mercked (notice the non-usage of “dude.”)
New Yorker: Aight, true.


Solo: Hey, I just killed that guy.
New Yorker: Alright, good job.

I added another Queen’s based word, “dun,” pronounced, “done,” a play off the word “son.” I never use this one online cause it’s not as known to the world unlike “son.” Let’s keep this rolling (moving). This might be a typical phone call:

Solo: Yo, What’s good?
New Yorker: Parlayin’.
Solo: My man hit me up with that cheddar he’d been sittin’ on.
New Yorker: Bout time, it’s been a minute.


Solo: Hello, how are you doing?
New Yorker: Nothing.
Solo: My friend gave me the money he’d owed me.
New Yorker: Finally, it’s been a long time.

Now in this conversation you have usage of slang that could be heard all over New York from BK to Queens, to the BX. Believe me, I’m barely scratching the surface here. Onward.

Solo: Dag, my peeps be hatin on me these days.


Solo: Damn, my friends are talking about me behind my back.

A few years back, I came out to Seattle to vacation and relax. I ran into a few of my old friends. I was happy to see them and catch up. But I felt like they were judging me for the way I talked. I really thought I wasn’t speaking slang either. It got back to me that some musicians in Seattle are saying that I think I’m black now. I wish! Just kidding, first of all, I’m neither white nor black. Half Korean, half white is the term. And second, I find it very stereotypical to think that because I might use the word “mad” it has anything to do with race. People are people, and we all speak different languages, even in America. Although I did pull up flossin’ 22’s on my whip ballin’ like crazy.

Once again, please don’t take any offense to this. I love all my friends from the west coast and east coast. In fact, I know kids out here poke fun at my west coast slang too (I use both). In fact, you might say I have a funny accent to New Yorker’s ears, sort of like my mother’s Korean accent. If anyone has a question about any terminology I used in this post, I’d be happy to clarify (or ask DA). I ask people who read this to try and come up with slang they use in everyday use and realize where it’s coming from. Race or demographics?

Wit’ dat said, I’m about to floss my piece for a while. My jump off’s at work stackin’ chedda’ while I’m polying wit all ya’ll. I’m startin to cake up nicely, hope ya’ll doin the same. Stop frontin’, keep it real. Peace everybody. One love.