Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The following lyrics I'm about to post from the song Virginia, rapped by Pusha-T from the now defunct duo, Clipse. For background in answering my question, in the rap, Pusha-T has begun bragging about his home and past life in Virginia, the tough guys from the area he grew up around with, and how well he sold cocaine.

See I turned to the Lord when them times got tough
Bullied through streets, powder I pushed and shoved
In that ole' Virginey
Out of ten niggas, nine are guinea
No money, all they know is gimme, got semis waitin'

My question is: What does guinea mean here?

First, though, I should say that I know that guinea is an ethnic slur for Italians, but I really don't think that fits in with the background of the rap — for one thing, I don't think that Virginia particularly known for a high density of Italians, as say, New Jersey and Rhode Island are, and secondly, Pusha-T, and "niggas" in general, are Black. Moreover, as far as I know, if guinea where being used in the aforementioned sense, it would be pejorative, while here Pusha seems to be using it in a positive sense, to say something like "in my hometown, 9 out 10 of my dudes are tough/brave/badass." I am certain that this is not the first time either, that I have heard guinea being used in a positive sense.

So can anyone precisely zero in what sense guinea is supposed to mean here? What's the etymology?

share|improve this question
add comment

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The "Partridge Dictionary of Slang" has an entry for "Guinea people" as a synonym for "Jamaicans with strong sense of African identity".

In addition, p214 of the Jamaican English Dictionary, you will find this entry:

GUINEA-MAN sb; cf OED 2 1830 → A man born in Africa.
a. 1818 Lewis (1845), "On hearing of this fresh instance of devilism, I asked her mother 'how she came to have so bad a daughter, when all her sons were so mild and good?' 'Oh massa', answered she 'the girl's father was a guinea-man'.

Other entries (like Guinea ship for instance 'a ship bringing slaves from Guinea (Africa)') suggest that the Jamaican meaning of Guinea is Africa and that a Guinea man is a slave born in Africa (as opposed to one born in a colony from slave parents).

Considering that this cannot be a valid meaning nowadays, I'd surmise that this is the name that non Jamaicans would use to designate Black Americans of Jamaicans origin as stated by the Partridge Dictionary of Slang.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Based on the next line after the reference to guinea, I think he's calling them lazy, not tough guys:

No money, all they know is gimme, ...

They aren't working hard like the speaker/rapper is. I think I've seen this in a similar context before, I haven't been able to find it.

share|improve this answer
add comment

According to The dictionary of Jamaican English, the Congo negroes were later arrivals than the Guinea negroes. The latter looked down on the former.

BTW the slur for Italian is derived from the term Guinea negro, via a stage where it was used for all darker-skinned peoples, then specialized to Italians.

share|improve this answer
add comment

protected by RegDwigнt Aug 10 '11 at 16:06

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.