Belonging to a New York City gang is no joke. Membership requires a fierce initiation and repeated proof that you can live by their rules. To be in one of the many NYC gangs, members also must wear the proper colors, learn hand signs, and even speak the right gang slang.
Some terms used by NYC gangs are proprietary, others are more universally applied. Either way, members of the Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings, and numerous other groups use NYC gang code words on a daily basis.
Former members, law enforcement officials, and other experts have documented some of the language used by NYC street crews; however, even if you've never been involved in NYC's turf conflicts, you may have heard some of these phrases without even knowing their meaning. Any of this gang slang look familiar?
Definition: Dawg is one of the terms used by Blood members to refer to one another. They may also use "Blood" or "b-dog."
Sentence: Dawg, I got love for you.
The Crip counterpart is "cuz."
Definition: "Jumping in" refers to the initiation process in which a potential member must fight two or more existing members for a certain amount of time.
Sentence: They followed the sound of the commotion to find a new member getting jumped in.
Should a member want to leave, he must be jumped out, meaning he again must fight two or more members for the same amount of time.
Definition: A wanksta is a portmanteau of wanker and gangster; it refers to a wanna-be gangster or poser.
Sentence: That guy isn't a Crip or a Blood, he's a pure wanksta.
Definition: A biscuit is a gun.
Sentence: No gang member wants to get caught without a biscuit.
While biscuit is not the only term used for a side arm, it's a common choice for street and biker gang members. Additional terms include gat, nine (referring to a 9mm), puppy (used by Jamaican gangsters), and pump (a shotgun).
Definition: A nickel is a five-year stint behind bars.
Sentence: He just got out from serving his nickel.
A five-year imprisonment is a point of pride for many members, as the sentence indicates a serious offense.
Definition: A kite is a message.
Sentence: The kite went from cell to cell to spread the word.
Usually associated with penitentiaries, kites are passed around inside institutions, often as a means of obtaining forbidden substances.
Definition: Yubitsume is a punishment inflicted upon members of the Japanese Yakuza that involves cutting off a member's little finger.
Sentence: You can identify a Yakuza member once you see he's experienced yubitsume.
Definition: An elbow is a pound of controlled substances.
Sentence: He split up the elbow to sell it on the street.
Definition: Lampin' is the act of standing under a street lamp, just hanging out.
Sentence: He's lampin' every night as soon as the sun goes down.
This usually accompanies the act of selling substances and carries "turf" connotations.
Definition: A SuWhoop is a greeting used by Bloods.
Sentence: When the Bloods saw each other, the exchanged SuWhoops.
Definition: Crab is the term Bloods use to describe Crips.
Sentence: From the perspective of a Blood, a Crip is nothing but a Crab.
The term is meant to be disrespectful and refers to the venereal disease of the same name. A Crab Killa is someone who has slain a Crip.
Definition: A ghetto star among Bloods is a non-member who should be respected by all gang members.
Sentence: He's a ghetto star, so he's completely untouchable.
A ghetto superstar is a Crip term for a well-known person.
Definition: A phrase used by a Blood to indicate he's unarmed.
Sentence: Give me a biscuit, I'm dumb dumb.
"Pumb-pumb" is an alternate phrase that means the same thing.
Definition: A bag of cookies is a Crip phrase for bullets.
Sentence: A biscuit is worthless without a bag of cookies.
Definition: A mug is an Albanian gangster.
Sentence: Watch out for that mug - he's ruthless.
The term is a direct reference to James Cagney films and prison mugshots.
Definition: An Inca is one of the leaders of the Latin Kings.
Sentence: The Latin Kings showed the Inca proper deference when he entered the room.
Definition: Within the Crip lexicon, a playhouse is a hospital.
Sentence: Once he got out of the playhouse, he was a ghetto superstar (a respected person) among the Crips.
Definition: Xap sam is a poker game enjoyed by Chinese gangsters. The game is often played in the backrooms of gang-controlled businesses.
Sentence: They played xap sam at the massage parlor until 3 a.m.
Definition: A Picasso is a cut a member receives on their face while in prison. The term can also refer to the act of slicing someone else.
Sentence: They gave the Crip a Picasso to prove he served time.
When a Picasso requires at least 150 stitches, it's known as a "buck fifty."
Definition: The Russian term for "slay" or "bury," "uryt" is used by Russian gangsters for enemies and bodies alike.
Sentence: Uryt him, he's disrespected us all.