If you ain't peek then you must be drinkin'

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This line is from music artist Coolio's 1997 song 'C U When You Get There'. It's a famous song, I'm sure you've all heard it.

It is one of the first lines into the song, and I'm lost for what it could mean. Any ideas?

Now I seen faces and places
Things you ain't ever thought about thinkin'
If you ain't peek then you must be drinkin', and smokin'

Thanks.
 
  • Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    He's being what he feels is poetic. He saying that if someone's not peeking, as in "their eyes are not open" (an idiom meaning that one is not aware of what is occurring), then it's due to them drinking and doing drugs. Not having their life in the right state-of-being has led them to be lazy and not realize what their life could be.

    As I'm sure you're aware of by listening to this music, often rappers and R&B artists leave out words that proper english would deem crucial. Often verbs are not conjugated properly. And he is indeed meaning this to be a verb, not a noun. "Peek" here would have been "peeking" in proper english. But it's not to a fault. It's done on purpose as that's typical vernacular of a given audience.

    Other examples of how verbs are used like this in such music:

    " You ain't go? " <----you did not go?
    " You gon holla? " <---are you going to holler (yell - which really means call me)
    " You trippin' " <--- can mean many things but generally means someone is acting wrongly, acting "crazy" or even showing/causing angst towards the speaker.

    Hope that helps.
     
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    Thanks a lot for your response, Filsmith. It's true rappers take lots of liberties with the language. But I spose that's true of writers and poets too. Correct me if I'm wrong, but lots of poetry would be considered ungrammatical by a contemporary linguist, grammarian or English teaching guy.
     

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Thanks a lot for your response, Filsmith. It's true rappers take lots of liberties with the language. But I spose that's true of writers and poets too. Correct me if I'm wrong, but lots of poetry would be considered ungrammatical by a contemporary linguist, grammarian or English teaching guy.
    You're welcome :)

    Well, poetry, by it's very nature, is art. All art has an artist composing it. And they are very apt to take liberties as they see fit :)

    So I'd say you are quite correct in that regard :) Some "classical" teachers/scholars might cringe or find fault in many poet's "art"/liberties :)
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Thanks a lot for your response, Filsmith. It's true rappers take lots of liberties with the language. But I spose suppose that's true of writers and poets too. Correct me if I'm wrong, but lots of poetry would be considered ungrammatical by a contemporary linguist, grammarian or English teaching guy.
    Yep. Well, certainly not of all writers. But poets and songwriters (all kinds of songwriters) enjoy what we call poetic license. They're not constrained to adhere to the normal prose rules but may use, misuse, and even make up words and phrases for purposes of rhyme, rhythm, or emotional effect.

    You may have fun trying to ascertain the meanings of their work, but don't depend on songs and poems as sources of correct English usage.

    P.S.: Welcome to the forum!
     

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Yep. Well, certainly not of all writers. But poets and songwriters (all kinds of songwriters) enjoy what we call poetic license. They're not constrained to adhere to the normal prose rules but may use, misuse, and even make up words and phrases for purposes of rhyme, rhythm, or emotional effect.

    You may have fun trying to ascertain the meanings of their work, but don't depend on songs and poems as sources of correct English usage.

    P.S.: Welcome to the forum!

    The irony may be that he was using "spose" as an example of what liberties are taken when using slang in common speaking :) Or not. Either way I found it amusing :D
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    "Peek" here is not short for "peeking."

    If you ain't peek then you must be drinkin', and smokin'
    As the other posters explained, "peek" is period slang for "being at the peak of excitement." The meaning of the sentence is "If you aren't excited about [the things I've seen and experienced], you must be drunk or high" or "You'd have to be drunk/high not to be excited about this."

    In terms of "poetic license": language is a constant creation. We always say new and different things every time we use language. Grammar rules are always created after the fact to describe the way language has been used, and will never successfully be able to constrain all usage. Poetry and lyric are not exceptions to this state of affairs, but instead examples of the general rule. Orators (Cicero, Churchill), prose stylists (Joyce obviously, but also most other novelists), and even scientists (Darwin anyone?) have all been willing to "break" grammar rules to say something in the manner that is most effective and expressive of and appropriate to their subject.
     

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "Peek" here is not short for "peeking."



    As the other posters explained, "peek" is period slang for "being at the peak of excitement." The meaning of the sentence is "If you aren't excited about [the things I've seen and experienced], you must be drunk or high" or "You'd have to be drunk/high not to be excited about this."

    In terms of "poetic license": language is a constant creation. We always say new and different things every time we use language. Grammar rules are always created after the fact to describe the way language has been used, and will never successfully be able to constrain all usage. Poetry and lyric are not exceptions to this state of affairs, but instead examples of the general rule. Orators (Cicero, Churchill), prose stylists (Joyce obviously, but also most other novelists), and even scientists (Darwin anyone?) have all been willing to "break" grammar rules to say something in the manner that is most effective and expressive of and appropriate to their subject.
    I am pretty sure that if he had meant "peak" he'd say peak. The lyrics leading up to the line speaks of what he's seen. And he goes on to say "if you've not seen (for yourself) then ______.

    Common slang is peek = look/view and peep = look/view.

    He very deliberately chose the word "peek" not "peak".

    Just as the vernacular of this demographic would say "you ain't peek 'round the corner atah?" (you didn't look around the corner at her?). They would neither spell it "peak" there nor would they intend for anyone to get "excited" around a corner.
     
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    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Sorry, I just used "peak" to make a pun. :)

    However, since rap lyrics aren't normally written, but performed orally and only transcribed after the fact (and then almost never by the original writer), both possibilities exist. More of that darn "poetic" language mucking up the works again...
     

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Sorry, I just used "peak" to make a pun. :)

    However, since rap lyrics aren't normally written, but performed orally and only transcribed after the fact (and then almost never by the original writer), both possibilities exist. More of that darn "poetic" language mucking up the works again...

    Could very well be :D
     
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