Well, It happens to me time to time while listening musics, the singer uses some words I have no clue beforehand, So I was looking for a solution to tackle this. I listen to rap musics mostly, and the first time I heard Eminem said

fa sheezel, ma wizzel

I was like what could it mean? By the way I listen to rap musics because I believe they come handy while improving listening comprehension, causal and informal contexts do the same. Not going off a tangent, Is there any method or way to kind of find out the meaning by understanding the whole context?

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    Music is generally used as a mass noun. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 13:55
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    Lyrics can be so free-floating that it can be difficult to establish a context that might help your ear to eliminate unlikely possibilities.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 13:55
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    The long and short of it is that even if you had an accurate transcription, lyrics are not a good route into learning English. And listening to rap lyrics without the benefit of transcription is probably worse than useless - I'd say it would almost certainly be counterproductive, since it would include many features of syntax, semantics, and articulation with little currency and/or no likelihood of lasting long enough to enter mainstream usage. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 18:11
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    Just FYI: I'm a native English speaker, and the first time I heard someone say, "fo' shizzel, ma wizzel", I was also like, "what could it mean?" Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 19:26
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    rap.genius.com can help make sense of rap and hip-hop lyrics. This website has transcripts of both the lyrics and their meaning. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 22:00

7 Answers 7


By the way I listen to rap musics because I believe they come handy while improving listening comprehension

There's a strong tradition in rap music (and other popular music as well) of intentionally mispronouncing, twisting, or even inventing words to maintain the flow of a song. It's technically poetry after all, and poetry bends the rules of grammar and language to suit an artistic purpose.

The thing is, older native speakers, as well as those who are not fans of rap, are in the same situation as you. This is intentional for the most part - each younger generation has its various ways of going against the established status quo.

FWIW I think this is a reference or homage to Snoop Dogg's "fo' shizzle" thing but I don't know that for sure. Snoop was a popular rapper in the 90's. This gives away my age. Someone older than me would likely have even less of a clue than me.

So, two things:

  • Listen to older popular rap music to complete the picture of what newer rappers are basing things on or getting ideas from. This should also be done amid a background of becoming familiar with general popular music of that timeframe too.
  • You should reach out to people or even forums who are passionate about rap music, who keep up with it, and are willing and able to interpret new lyrics for you. Reddit may be a good place to start.
  • in particular a great source for understanding rap is genius.com!!! Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 14:16

Being honest, I as a native speaker (seriously) rarely understand more than 50% of the lyrics the first time I listen to a song.

What's more, I don't understand more than 80% of the lyrics of even my favorite songs (after listening over and over) unless I look up the lyrics (check genius or songmeanings for generally excellent sources).

Again, I'm a native speaker. My point is, that's not how I listen to music. And even if I intentionally try and pick up lyrics, I'm not often so successful.

So you as a non-native should never feel so intimidated. Especially with rap!! Which is typically very fast and rife with cutting-edge vernacular.

Very few people (including --and especially -- rap enthusiasts) actually understand 100% of rap lyrics on a first listen. Seriously! Local dialects abound, so new phrases are constantly being introduced by new local artists. Though you may eventually may be able to infer meanings from context (etc, including urbandictionary, an essential source for even natives), that is an especially high bar to aim for.

  • That was delightful considering you're a native if I'm honest. Way to go. I hope I'll be able to improve faster, the same for you in your life. Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 19:09

Are you saying that you can't make out the singer's words, or that you know what the words are, but you don't know what they mean?

If you can't make out the words, with the wonders of the Internet these days, just search for the title of the song with the word "lyrics", like "one dance lyrics".

If you can find the words but don't know what they mean, (a) Use the usual methods, like look them up in a dictionary. (b) If it's still not clear, bear in mind that songs and poems often do not follow normal grammar rules. They bend the rules when they're trying to get a certain rhyme or rhythm. Songs often used made-up words as filler, "shee bop do bop do wah" and that sort of thing. "Fa sheezel ma wizzel" sound to me like made-up words. It's possible that they're slang from a sub-culture that I'm not familiar with.

Frankly, listening to music is probably not the best way to learn a language. It's often hard to make out the words over the instruments, and as I mentioned, songs often break grammar rules and use made up words. I'm a native English speaker and I often have difficulty making out the words in songs.


You rely on and/or expand your knowledge of the world and culture of rap music. Part of doing this is listening to more and more rap music: it could be that hearing the same world in different contexts could help give you the meaning. If this does not work, you can see if a rap music dictionary is available. You could also check with The Urban Dictionary or an internet search for the word(s) you want to define.

If the word and culture of rap music causes continual trouble, you might want to listen to more types of music (not: musics). Country & Western music often tell stories, as do ballads and love songs.


Listening is a great idea. But if you are new to the language, you should listening to audio that follows the rules of grammar rather than routinely breaks them.

This is not a political statement, but many programs on National Public Radio (i.e. NPR) feature English language content where the rules of grammar are seldom broken and the words are pronounced correctly. Additionally, NPR is a kind of hodge-podge station: they feature programming on a wide range of topics besides politics. This can help you learn new words and the context where those words are typically used.

If you have $10, you can buy a radio and tune into NPR 24 hours a day. This assumes you are located in the United States. If you are located outside of the United States, NPR has audio on their website: www.npr.org. It may be even better to use the website: you may be able to download, pause, replay, rewind the audio.


Funny enough to hear these comments. Bear in mind, there is a hell of of street slang terminology abbreviations going into modern singer song writer lyrics, especially pop and moreso Rap(HipHop), RnB which all are often fused together these days as an offering of both sides of the coin. Everything nowadays seems to go at 100miles an hour, even Rapping has become the new thing called 'Grime' which I address as SpeedRapping, big in UK and europe but yet to conquer U.S.A. Yes, singer song writers twist and turn pronunciations to blend together lyrics should they require, to rhyme.

  • I also believe jamaican language 'patois' pronounced patwah has had an immense influence on modern pop with terms becoming street slang regularly incorporated into Rap music first.
    – KuLdi Lakh
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 3:58

Listening to lyrics might be a good route to learn English, if you switch your music genre: Try listening to Beatles instead! :-) And is easy to get full transcripts of the songs, with the song:


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