Frontin’ & Trippin’


I've been hearing these words frontin' and trippin' (tripin' ? ) all the time. However I "sense" their meanings I'm still not quite sure if I got them right. Thanks for your answer.


Dear Monee,

As I'm sure you've noticed, both of these words show up regularly in hip hop songs. However, that's not where they started. Front, which now means "pretend", is often used by rappers to question the authenticity of their rivals. 50 Cent, for example, famously criticizes rapper Jah Rule in his hit Wanksta (fake gangster).

You say you a gangsta
but you neva pop nothin'
They say you a wanksta
and you need to stop frontin'

Since Jah Rule has never popped anything (shot a gun), 50 Cent, whose experiences with violence are well-documented, feels that he should be exposed as a fraud. But while front currently describes people who pretend to be something they're not, it didn't always have that meaning.

In the 1920s, this word started to be used in association with gangsters, but they were not pretending to be tough. Quite the opposite. A respectable businessman would operate as the front or front man (secret representative) for the gangsters so that their illegal business dealings would go unnoticed by police.

From the innocent word for a vacation, tripping became a vacation of the mind in the 1960s. People who took psychedelic drugs, like LSD, went on head trips. While the word can still be used that way, trippin' is now often used about a person who acts crazy or does or says unexpected things. The implication is that they act like they are on drugs.

Your pal,


A. C. Kemp

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