Unless you've been living in Albania for the past year, you're probably familiar with the recent emergence of booty-shaking Houston rap music. With tracks like "Ridin' Dirty" and "Still Tippin'" blowing up the airwaves, the signature Houston sound has moved from the underground to the mainstream. But despite their American citizenship, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, and Slim Thug don't speak anything remotely like English. Luckily, a Texas rapper's vocabulary is not Texas-sized; there are only a few key terms you need to know to be fluent in Ballerese.

Chopped and Screwed

The trademark sound of Texas hiphop, first made famous by the legendary DJ Screw. A chopped and screwed remix is just an album cut played really slowly. It's better than scratching, since anyone can join in on the fun. Just grab your trusty Jefferson Starship LP and play it at 33 rpm while pushing down on the record with an old sock. When it sounds even crappier than it did in the first place, the track is officially "screwed down."

Purple Drink (AKA "purp" or "lean")

Purple drink is a popular street cocktail primarily made up of generic cough syrup, vodka, and soda. It's also known as "lean" due to its tendency to make you lean back when you've been drinking it. Purple drink is the perfect complement to Houston hiphop, since it's pretty much the only way to enjoy agonizingly slow, screwed-down remixes. It should be noted that the untimely death of DJ Screw resulted from complications due to overconsumption of purple drink. Apparently no one in Houston has learned from this fact, since "the purp" gets name-checked in just about every new track.

Candy Paint

High-gloss lacquered paint on a car. Put simply, the paint on your champagne-colored 1994 Honda Accord is the antithesis of candy paint.

Gripping Grain

Your grandmother loves to grip grain in her Cadillac, and I'm not talking about going to the drive-in with Grandpa. Gripping grain is the action of driving a car equipped with a woodgrain steering wheel. For some reason, woodgrain is preferable to other types of steering wheels.

Switching Lanes

Click your turn signal and gently maneuver your automobile from one lane of the road to another. You have just successfully, and legally, switched lanes. This must be a popular move in Houston, since it comes up as a lyric in so many songs. Or, maybe it's just because it rhymes with "grain" (see "Gripping Grain").


This is someone who stands on the corner and sells you drugs. Someone who is particularly adept at the occupation is known as a "trapstar." The concept of someone being good or bad at standing on the corner and selling drugs is beyond me. Honestly, don't drugs sell themselves? As far as I'm concerned, everyone is a trapstar until they get robbed. Then they are dead.

Riding Dirty

If you are driving around in your car with drugs, you are riding dirty. I quit smoking grass a long time ago, but forgot I had left my old glass pipe and a baggie of schwag in my glove box. Unbeknownst to me, I was riding dirty for about a year.


Dropping your celly number in your radio hit is either a really bold statement or a pathetic ploy for attention. 281-330-8004 is Mike Jones's cell-phone number. I recommend hitting him up on the low. When you call, ask for Mike Jones. Or just give him a text message when you head out to the club.


Basically the only Texas rap term you need to know, trill is the slant-rhyming combination of the words "true" and "real." Keeping things trill consists of doing all the abovementioned actions, having huge rims on your truck, and buying diamond jewelry. Candy paint is clearly the path to truth and/or reality. Ganking toy-ass punks like you for your imported Air Force Ones would be a fine example of something trill.