What Does It Really Mean to ‘Turn Up’?

Over at Crunk Feminist Collective, Brittney Cooper enters into a thoroughly enjoyable ontological discussion of the phrases crunk and turn up. Turn up, in case you didn’t know, is slang the kids use these days, a verb meaning get loose, get wild, etc. (No, it’s cool, I had to Urban Dictionary it.) She theorizes:

Turn up is both a moment and a call, both a verb and a noun. It is both anticipatory and complete. It is thricely incantation, invitation, and inculcation. To Live. To Move. To Have –as in to possess– one’s being. The turn up is process, posture, and performance — as in when 2Chainz says “I walk in, then I turn up” or Soulja Boy says, “Hop up in the morning, turn my swag on.” Yet it holds within it the potential for authenticity beyond the merely performative.  It points to an alternative register of expression, that turns  up to be the most authentic register, because it is who we be, when we are being for ourselves and for us, and not for nobody else, especially them.

As a result of the need to turn up, to be unapologetically, authentically ourselves, when Lil Jon asks us “turn down for what?” in his chart-topping single “Turn Down for What” featuring DJ Snake, Cooper posits that  “Lil Jon’s question ‘turn down for what,’ then, becomes an existential question of the highest order.”

Turn up, to be? That’s a lot of pressure! Philosophically, when someone issues the YOLO-esque rally cry “Turn down for what?” the listener is obligated to bellow back “NOTHING.” Practically speaking, though, there are plenty of things for which one would turn down.

The next time someone wants you to get turnt up, here are a few socially acceptable responses to the existential question of “turn down for what?”

1. The L train isn’t running.

2.  It’s 9 p.m. and I took my pants off already.

3. I literally just ordered a pizza.

4. I just ate too much pizza.

5. I listened to all of Beyoncé’s sad songs.

6. I accidentally already got too drunk while waiting for you to decide to turn up.

7. I’ve been turnt up for the past three days, where have you been?

8. I think I’m getting a UTI.

9. Hair looks weird.

10. It’s raining.

11. It’s snowing.

12. It’s pretty hot.

13. My good jeans are in the dryer.

14. Derrrr. Muggggh. Blech.

What Does It Really Mean to ‘Turn Up’?