Cray Cray

Cray Cray

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Cray Cray is an English-language slang term meaning "crazy." The term, while around for nearly a decade, was popularized in the song Niggas In Paris by Kanye West and Jay Z.


The earliest known usage and definition of the term "cray cray" was published in the Online Slang Dictionary[1] on December 24th, 2001. That day, user Jeremy submitted the definition (shown below) "crazy, i.e. strange, insane, or wild."

Online Slang Dictionary definition of the term Cray Cray


The following year, Urban Dictionary [2] user Pint-O posted a defintion. They defined the term as "meaning really crazy." The post (shown below) received more than 1,600 upvotes in 15 years.

Urban Dictionary definition of the term Cray Cray

Over the next few years, the term slowly made its way into the vernacular of the internet. On July 13th, 2007, YouTuber [3] pamelaine923 published a video (shown below) called "Mom is Cray Cray."

Later that year, on October 25th, a Chicagoist [4] review of the reality television series American's Next Top Model included the phrase in their review. They wrote, "Congrats, Ty Ty, you're officially the epitome of cray cray."

On September 13th, 2011, Kayne West and Jay Z released the first single for their album Watch The Throne. The song "Niggas in Paris" featured the frequent refrain "That shit cray." The song sold more than 5 million copies digitally in the United States and won two Grammy awards for "Best Rap Performance" and "Best Rap Song."[5]

Since being uploaded to Kanye West's Vevo account, the music video for the song has been viewed more than 195 million times.

On November 1st, 2011, Tumblr [6] user Mia Glenn posted a faux origin of the phrase "That shit kray." She wrote:

"Is actually not a shortened form of 'crazy', nor is it 'cray', it’s actually 'Kray'. It’s in reference to the schizophrenic twins Ronald and Reginald Kray… The Kray twins who were the crime lords of London in the 50’s and 60… The police failed to locate them on numerous occasions, which is where the line “ball so hard, muthafuckas wanna find me, that shit Kray. That shit Kray. That shit Kray."

The original post has since been deleted. However, on April 11th, 2012, Tumblr user le-mia reblogged "The Origin of 'That Shit Cray.'" The reblog (shown below) received more than 10,000 notes.

Tumblr post telling the origin of the phrase that shit cray

Later that year, Glenn admitted to the history being a troll. She wrote in a since deleted post:[7]

"I don’t wanna say that the shit was hard because it wasn’t. People are just idiotic, plain and simple. Even though my post (that I made up) sounds intelligent, it has many typos and lyrical fuck-ups that people failed to catch on to except for a few people who KNOW the song and went to the concert. I SINGLEHANDEDLY stopped the world from using CRAY and got them to start using KRAY and slaughter the shit out of Niggas in Paris. The worst part is people still don’t believe that

* I made it up on tumblr
* that i made it up period
* that it’s made up
* that it’s not real
* that it’s fake
* that it’s a troll
* that Ye and JAY really meant CRAY
* that they weren’t referring to the Kray twins

"and i’m sitting back like 'the fuck' this is getting way out of hands. There are still dummies on tumblr reblogging the post and dumb fucks on twitter retweeting the pictures and forums and blogsites reporting my troll as NEWS. I won’t be surprised if it didn’t get back to Ye and Jay yet. I take FULL credit for making up that they were talking about the KRAY twins in the song because nobody helped me write the bogus ass post. I wrote it on my own.

People are arguing with me but there’s no post before the 1st November 2011 before 4:52pm because that’s when I wrote it. Of course all tracks are pointing towards me because I did the shit. Everything got out the early morning of 2 November 2011 and people still don’t know it was a hoax so they’re still reporting on it. I’m trying to tell people that it was a hoax but they’re not believing it. Maybe people are as stupid as I thought…'"

On December 18th, 2012, the song was included in the book Words You Should Know 2013.[8] The book discusses the terms origins and ascension in the common vernacular.

On August 14th, 2014, the phrase "cray" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary,[9] who defined it as "crazy."

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External References

[1] Online Slang Dictionary – Cray Cray

[2] Urban Dictionary – Cray Cray

[3] YouTube – Mom is Cray Cray

[4] Chicagoist – Reality Check: Adios, Chicagoans

[5] YouTube – Jay-Z & Kanye West – Ni**as In Paris

[6] Tumblr – le-mia's Post

[7] Tumblr – Creating the Greatest Internet Troll

[8] Google – Words you Should Know 2013

[9] Oxford English Dictionary – Cray

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