Ice Spice and the art of creating new slang to munch on

The hottest rapper in music just can’t stop winning


Courtesy of Complex

The life section featured coverage on our generation’s preeminent artists, like Ice Spice.

Tabitha Cahan, Contributing Writer

“Big boobs, and the butt stay plump,” a voice asserts over the choppy 808s. Curly-haired, 23-year-old, Bronx-based rapper Ice Spice has endlessly quotable lyrics. Aptly dubbed this generation’s Princess Diana, the trendsetter embodies teens’ hunger for ’90s nostalgia.

For those not chronically online, Ice Spice is a drill rapper — a subgenre of hip hop that originated in Chicago in the 2010s — most famous for her song “Munch (Feelin’ U).” Ice Spice is new to the scene, but her rise to fame has skyrocketed (albeit primarily due to TikTok).

Ice Spice’s online presence is ubiquitous. What is most interesting about Ice Spice is her uncanny ability to change our colloquial language, thanks to her fanbase of teen girls. Teen girls are on the cutting edge of vocal trends and responsible for about 90 percent of linguistic changes today. Linguists can’t pinpoint the exact reason for this; however, I would argue that it is because women are acutely socially aware and pick up on subtle changes in the vernacular.

As a teenage girl, I can, like, totally sympathize with the need to fit in. I find myself constantly adjusting how I talk. I pick up words such as “slay” and “purr,” borrowed from Black queer communities. Coined during queer ball culture during the ’70s and ’80s, the term “slay” refers to an outfit, hair, makeup, dance moves and flawless attitude. These words spread like wildfire across teens everywhere, and suddenly one can’t imagine a world without them.

Considering how words such as “slay” and “purr” have been adopted into everyday speech, it is strange that most don’t know the etymology. Slang terms similar to those above are taken from marginalized communities and are often appropriated by mainstream white audiences. I am a participant in perpetuating this issue, considering I was unaware of these words until TikTok. So is it appropriate to use these terms as a non-queer-identifying person? There is no easy answer to the ethics of using slang. There is a thin line between naturally adopting the language and cultural appropriation. The first step is acknowledging the origins of what you’re saying.

Ice Spice plays into many of these trends, often using the valley girl filler: “like.” Identified by researchers as the most annoying filler word in the English language, Ice Spice uses “like” as more of an ad-lib: “How can I lose if I’m already chose? Like. / If she feeling hot, then I make that bitch froze.” She delivers these lines with a sense of effortlessness, playing into the trope of apathetic teens. There is also a layer of sassiness in the lyrics, a sense of knowing her own worth and being unafraid to flaunt it.

Today, our lexicon has been streamlined by TikTok, and artists such as Ice Spice are our fierce leaders. Her most notable trend is munch. And no, I’m not talking about snacks. Peppered with sexual innuendos, Ice Spice’s song “Munch (Feelin’ U)” insinuates that a “munch” is a desperate, subservient male. “Munch (Feelin’ U)” is a feminist anthem. Ice Spice is a baddie, and she gets what she wants. “Baddie” is an antiphrasis — a rhetorical device used to call something the opposite of what it is. “Baddie” most likely stems from using the word “bad.” “Bad” is also an antiphrasis — used to describe someone attractive. “Bad” was mostly used throughout the ’70s and ’80s, so it seems only natural that the word should adapt to our new generation.

In her song “Actin A Smoochie,” Ice Spice adds another word to our cultural canon. A “smoochie,” according to the princess of drill herself, has many casual sexual partners. But, rather than using it in a derogatory fashion, Ice Spice repurposes the sentiment into something powerful. Male rappers often cite female promiscuity as something undesirable, but Ice Spice allows women to reclaim their sexuality and celebrate it. In the chorus, she describes herself as someone who takes men’s hearts and breaks them while dancing and dressing how she wants. She’s got no time for munches. Ice Spice is in her “trendsetting era,” as some may say. I am excited to see what Ice Spice puts out in the future. Clearly, she is just getting started.