The Noisey Rap Ad-Lib Style Guide

Jeezy's laugh is different from Chief Keef's laugh is different from Jadakiss's laugh, etc.

If you are like me, there is more stuff going on in the world than you actually have time to consume. If you are like me, you are also loath to cop to this fact. So when someone mentions a movie you haven't seen, you probably do what I do and say, "Haha yeah... man I ain't seen that in a minute," and then lay low until the conversation about this movie you haven't seen morphs into a conversation about literally anything else. It's not all about ego, it's also about being tired of people being like, "Yo how the fuck haven't you seen (movie)?" every time a movie I haven't seen comes up. I was never really that into movies.

Similarly, if someone mentions a mixtape you haven't dug into yet and you have to offer an opinion on it, your best bet is to take a stance on the tape based on whatever high-profile guest spots you remember hearing from the two times you streamed the tape on LiveMixtapes. You don't remember Rick Ross's verse, but you do remember the Rick Ross Grunt (TM) and maybe the beat (which you know was by Tarantino of 808 Mafia because of their well-placed drops). So you'll be like, "Tape was aight, I liked the track with Ross and I always like Tarantino on the beat, his shit is very regal." Boom: your friends still think they can't one-up you on rap music. Your parents are finally proud.

There's been an ad-lib renaissance going down in rap for the last decade, as the amount of rap that comes out outpaces the amount of rap people actually listen to by like 500 percent. Dudes need to be able to make an impression on you, the listener, by any means whatsoever, even if you're just in someone's car for ten minutes and there's a mixtape blasting in the background. If a rapper impresses you in the ten minutes it takes to ride to Best Buy, they've done their job. Any MC worth their weight in free streetwear has a unique flow and the occasional quotable, but if they really want to lodge themselves in brains, they will develop a good ad-lib.

As ad-libs became an intractable part of hip-hop, they became part of lyrics and also Internet memes. Thus, people have to type them out sometimes. What we here at Noisey strive to do is standardize what our ears recognize instantly in text so that our eyes can do the same thing. This is an incomplete list that reflects rappers who immediately came to mind as having an ad-lib that people might want to stop thinking about how to spell. It’s not an all-inclusive catalog of ad-libs; there’s no Flocka because we all know how to spell “FLEX” and “BOW BOW BOW.”

Let us know if we missed anything in the comments.


TROO - This is some shit people actually say in conversations and I hope this will let people cut down on the amount of "#2chainzvoice" tags they feel they need to use.

SKRRT - The perfect sound for anyone cooking crack, pulling up to the spot, or bustin' on their sexual partner.


UWHH - Rocky's pitched-down ad-lib.


BRRRR - One time I saw a pic of Birdman wearing a shirt with an upside-down drawing of a pigeon on it and some arrows and it said "FLIPPING BIRDS." It's above this text twice, once for being the best thing I've ever seen and once for being the worst thing I've ever seen.


HAW HAW HAW - I don't know how much run this gets outside of "Laughing To The Bank" but I want to see more of this in 2013. Rap game Nelson Muntz. #HAWHAWHAW [Editor's Note: It should be officially noted that Drew Millard, Assistant Editor of Noisey, is a dissenting party as to the spelling this one. #HAUHAUHAU over everything.]


OOOH - 40 Water makes a lot of crazy sounds but this is really his trademark and has been for a few years now.


WOOO - Maybe you were wondering if there was a rapper in Atlanta whose ad-lib sounds like Joey Lawrence from Blossom. This is that dude.


NIIIICE - One of the national chain drug stores in the New York City area launched a new generic brand called "Nice" and it makes going to the drug store funny because they make, like, powered donuts but also replacement toilet handles. I like to picture Fabolous ignoring at least three calls a week from their marketing department.


AANH - Sometimes with a question mark, sometimes not. Occasionally with the H at the beginning (“HAANH”). A very versatile ad-lib.


BURR! - Not to be confused with Birdman's "BRRRR" (which does not have a 'U').

PYEWN - Gucci's car sound. Very crucial, very hard to spell.


AH-HAH! - Jada clears his throat and it reminds me of Owen Wilson in the movie Bottle Rocket.


AY! - Juelz actually had this on a chain, although it just said "A."


HANN? - It's annoying and it's basically the same as French Montana's, except French makes it sound better. Almost always with the question mark at the end.


WHOOP! - If you're gettin' money you're eatin' and you're going "WHOOP" a lot.


WHAT!? - Thankfully not as prevalent as it was in the Chapelle Era. People loved that shit. It was annoying. Please note the interrobang on this one.


UHHH - I know it feels like there should be two N's and six G's but this is actually the official spelling of "UHHH" as per No Limit Records. I'm not out here tryin to question Percy Miller's spelling.


JEAH - One of the first rappers to have a written word associated with him! It was good to hear Eiht show up on Kendrick's album; this is how you spell it his ad-lib. Not to be confused with Ryan Lochte's altogether odious #JEAH.


YECHK - Pusha clears his throat. I guess 2006 must have had a bad flu season or something, because both Pusha T and Jadakiss chose ad-libs that made them sound sickly around that time. Now that it's the age of rappers drinking cough syrup recreationally, such an ad-lib would be unthinkable.

[CORRECTION: Clipse is on record as saying it's EGHCK. Noisey deeply regrets the error.]


UHNNH - The Rick Ross Grunt (TM), both one-syllable and two-syllable version.


DOODLOOOT - The Bobby Digital teleport sound.


HA-HA! - The Jeezy laugh.

AYYY - Longer than Juelz's "Ay!" A little shorter if he's just yellin'.

CHEAH - Not to be confused with MC Eiht.

[Editor's Note: Skinny also put a bunch of rappers' ad-libs together into a single track and let us put it up on our SoundCloud. Listen, download, share and enjoy below.]

Skinny Friedman is a writer and DJ living in Brooklyn. He just put out new tracks here and here. Find him on Twitter - @skinny412