Hip Hop and Error Analysis

There’s sixteen ounces to a pound, twenty more to a ki

–Mos Def, “Mathematics”

Crack cocaine has long been a scourge of America’s inner cities, and as such, often makes its way into hip hop lyrics.  For whatever reason, drug dealers measure large amounts of cocaine in kilograms (usually abbreviated as a “kilo” or a “ki”), while smaller amounts are measured in ounces (“O’s” or an “O-Z”).  This leads to some pretty unusual unit conversion, as illustrated above.

How close is this conversion?  Well, 36 ounces is 2.25 pounds, while a kilogram is approximately 2.2 pounds.  This is about a 2.3% excess, so somebody’s getting ripped off here.  My hunch is that it’s the user who gets the short shrift.  Maybe we can dub 36 ounces the “drug dealer’s kilo,” along the same lines as a baker’s dozen being equal to 13.

Another example of shady unit conversion:

My new lady gave me a Mercedes
and a necklace with a solid gold key (ki)
Like the starter of a car
The opener of a door or two pounds of raw

Lupe Fiasco, “The Coolest”

Lupe’s short by 9%, but we’ll give him that leeway for poetic license.

Disclaimer: Neither of these songs or these artists are promoting selling or using drugs in their songs, merely pointing out the ills of their surroundings.

Similarly, I am not advocating drugs or sloppy unit conversion.

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