As far as hip-hop beefs go, it’s no Drake vs. Common, but it’s certainly more fun.
First, some background: New York Times puzzle guru Will Shortz was called out this week by freelance writer Julieanne Smolinski for misusing the word “illin” in a recent crossword, leading the two to cross swords via e-mail.
“The clue for 28 down reads ‘Wack, in hip-hop,’ and the answer provided is ‘ILLIN,'” Smolinski wrote. “These are not the same things, at all!”
Shortz fired back with this defense: “According to the Dictionary of American Slang, edited by Robert L. Chapman,’illin” means ‘stupid, insane.’ ‘Wack’ is defined as ‘worthless, stupid.’ The Dictionary of Contemporary Slang, by Tony Thorne, defines “illin'” as ‘bad, uncool,’ and says it is a buzzword in the rap and hip-hop cultures. It seems to me that’s roughly the same as ‘wack’ in the sense of worthless or stupid.”
Added the Timesman, “So it seems to me the clue is fine.”
But it doesn’t seem fine to Mike D of the Beastie Boys, who took to The Colbert Report to settle the score on rap’s nerdiest feud once and for all.
How does it all end? Let’s just say Shortz might need to check himself. Watch the tweedy Beastie work out the finer points of hip-hop grammar in the clip below:
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