2005-02-25

Fo’ rizzle, dizzle: A short history of izz and izzle

[...]The infix izz appeared early during the gestation of hip hop— emerging in the 1985 song “Roxanne Roxanne” by the Brooklyn rap group UTFO. While izz didn’t immediately integrate into common vernacular, it did flower in avant-garde hip hop. For instance, the izz re-emerges in the 1991 Another Bad Creation song “Coolin' at the Playground Ya’ Know” with the lyric “Into the Mizzark chillin in the pizzark … mother said be home by dizzark.” [...]

This article presents a fine piece of etymological detective work. I was always under the impression that izzay and izzle, as in Snoop Dogg's famous fo' shizzle 'for sure' originated with Snoop, back on Dr. Dre's The Chronic album (1992). This article puts the infix at least seven years prior to that in 1985 with UTFO.

Interestingly, the infix has ingrained itself in the language to the extent that it has apparently undergone at least minor semantic shifting, as is evidenced by the several entries at urbandictionary.com. Check it out fo yo sizzelf.

4 Comments:

Blogger Grant Barrett said...

A couple of notes: The Vail Trail article lifts, basically wholesale, the UTFO info from a column by Kathleen Miller in the New York Times, written for the space usually occupied by William Safire.

Also, I did the legwork that Ms. Miller used to make that UTFO claim (and she credits me in the column). It's not clear reading the column, but she does not intend to make the case that the "izz" infix is a product of hip-hop culture; I believe the NY Times copy desk obfuscated the issue.

There are written records from 1938 that indicate a nearly identical infix was used by auctioneers in New York City. Now, the izz infix could be independently derived by both communities, but there's no data to prove it either way. I believe there are some claims that a similar infix was used in scat and bebop forms of jazz, but I have no information to support that.

5:33 PM  
Blogger W1ll13 30% Hacker said...

Thanks for the correction. And welcome to ExpLing.

I haven't seen the NYT Miller article you mention. Sounds like a good one though. If you have the link for that and also for the other info it would be great if you could post it here.

The auctioneering source is fascinating too. Most of what I can remember from the few auctions I've been to is of shortened periodic, repetitions: "who'll give me twenty five twenty fai fie," where the string simplifies to a certain point and is then started over. I can see though how something like "who'll give me twenty five fai fizzive" could be effective too. Only, I guess if there were any hip-hoppers in the audience the auctioneer jive might not be as effective on them!

9:13 PM  
Blogger Randall said...

I heard an izzle in a Jimi Henrix song the other day. I forget the context, but it was a genuine izzle in the Snoop Dogg style, but from the 60's or 70's!

4:05 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Double Dutch bus song is full of it and came out in 1981...

5:38 PM  

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