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I heard this line in the rap song Ghetto Bird by Ice Cube (full lyrics here) and I'm completely puzzled by its meaning.

My homey's here to lick on a trick for a Rolex
And let me try the four next
Now the four I was driving was hotter than July
looked up and didn't see it whippin' in the sky
Saw a chopper with numbers on the bottom
"Calling all cars, I think we've got em."

I learned that lick can mean "easy money", and a trick can mean "a naive person", "a sex act with a prostitute", or "a robbery".

I could come up with several combinations of these meanings that would make sense on their own, but none of such combinations makes sense together with the following lines. Could somebody enlighten me what this line really means?

  • It's quite possible that there's a double meaning (or double entendre) here. Rap is full of wordplay. – Bradd Szonye Nov 14 '13 at 1:47
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    I'm curious what "four" here is. – CowperKettle Nov 14 '13 at 2:44
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    Literary interpretation/criticism, especially poetry and song lyrics, is off topic. There are no "right" answers, and "right" answers are the whole point of StackExchange. – MetaEd Nov 14 '13 at 3:09
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    @MετάEd I'm not asking for criticism and I can hardly believe that these lines are deep or abstract enough that they cannot have "right" or even "wrong" interpretations. The way I see it, the singer was describing a specific case of criminal activity that caused the use of helicopters by the police, unjustifiable from his point of view. The only thing preventing me from understanding the meaning is unfamiliar slang which should fall into the "green" "Word choice and usage" category from the FAQ. – undercat Nov 14 '13 at 3:43
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    There is actually a website devoted to deciphering rap lyrics --you'd probably have better luck there: rapgenius.com/Ice-cube-ghetto-bird-lyrics – Chris Sunami Nov 14 '13 at 4:21
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Rapgenius annotations:

lick on a trick for a Rolex rob a woman of her Rolex watch

ALSO

Now the four I was driving was hotter than july

annotated: Ice Cube’s 1964 Chevy Impala is wanted by the police

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I agree with the rap genius annotations, though "trick" may not refer to a woman in these lyrics. While "trick" usually refers to a female prostitute, Ice Cube may be using it here in the same way that rappers refer to other men as "bitches". So my SAE translation...

My friend is here to rob this guy for his rolex.

A "four" is definitely a reference to a 64 chevy, the iconic old-school car for rappers.

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    I think you're right that the robbery victim is probably male. Trick doesn't really mean a prostitute though. A prostitute may "turn tricks". Perhaps here it means a client, otherwise known as a "john". – user24964 Nov 14 '13 at 10:11

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