Why orange?
September 27, 2010 2:35 PM   Subscribe

"My orange box-cutter make the world go round;" This is a lyric from the Notorious B.I.G.'s song, "Sky's the Limit". Here's the wikipedia page about the song. What in the world does it mean?

I've wondered about this for over a decade. Here's a link to the lyrics (sorry if there's a pop-up or other weirdness). The quote in the context of the verse:
Uh-huh, I was a shame, my crew was lame
I have enough heart for most of em
Long as I got stuff from most of em
It's on, even when I was wrong I got my point across
They depicted me the boss, of course
My orange box-cutter make the world go round
Plus I'm fuckin, bitches ain't my homegirls now
Start stackin, dabbled in crack, gun packin
Nickname Medina, make the seniors tote my ninas
From gym class, to Englass, pass off a global
The only nigga wit a mobile, Can't You See like Total
Gettin larger in waist and taste
Ain't no tellin where this felon is headin, just in case
Keep a shell at the tip of ya melon, clear da space
Ya brain was a terrible thing ta waste
Eighty-eight long gates, snatch initial name plates
Smokin spliffs wit niggaz, real life beginner killers
Prayin God forgive us for being sinners, help us out
posted by 2bucksplus to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
You can totally rob someone with one of those orange handled boxcutters.
posted by knowles at 2:37 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's a weapon. It's like bragging about your "gat." Being the boss, he gets what he wants from his crew with his box cutter.
posted by cmoj at 2:40 PM on September 27, 2010


That's how he gets his money which in turn makes the world go 'round.
posted by milarepa at 2:44 PM on September 27, 2010


Is that like an obvious "thing" from back in 1980s Brooklyn?
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:56 PM on September 27, 2010


No, dude, it's an obvious "gangsta" and/or "street kid" thing. milarepa has it right. Do you have any idea what Biggie's life was like before he got famous? Probably very similar to what those lyrics are describing. That box cutter is probably an affordable, yet scary, weapon.
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:59 PM on September 27, 2010


Allway makes orange-handled boxcutters. Maybe he was referring to one of these. I used to use one at my old job.
posted by cropshy at 3:10 PM on September 27, 2010


He has a gun like two lines later! I really wouldn't think of box cutters as being an "obvious gangsta thing." Maybe he's using them to... open boxes. Of something.
posted by soma lkzx at 3:12 PM on September 27, 2010


Aaaaaalthough this person is all about it as a weapon.
posted by soma lkzx at 3:13 PM on September 27, 2010


The boxcutter was popular because if you were caught with one you could claim that it was from your job. It was super easy to attain and conceal. I was once robbed by a member of a Brooklyn street gang called The Deceptacons (it was the 80s) with a boxcutter.
posted by cazoo at 3:34 PM on September 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


The boxcutter was popular because if you were caught with one you could claim that it was from your job.

Came in here to say this. Now if only my clients would start carrying boxcutters and not damn switchblades and brass knuckles, I'd be all set.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:04 PM on September 27, 2010


Uh-huh, I was a shame, my crew was lame

"I used to be a gangsta, but I wasn't very good AT being a gangsta."

My orange box-cutter make the world go round

What cazoo said.

Plus I'm fuckin, bitches ain't my homegirls now
Start stackin, dabbled in crack, gun packin


"Eventually, I got better at this whole 'being a gangsta' career, and set aside my previous tactics in favor of more effective, rewarding ones."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:07 PM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Boxcutters are easy to get and are cheap. Plus, they're really sharp and no one wants to get slashed with one. I knew a girl who got a nasty facial slash from arguing with a kid with a boxcutter.
posted by blueskiesinside at 4:48 PM on September 27, 2010


With a construction box cutter that uses a snap-off stick of blades, you can extend the whole stick of blades at once, for quite the knife. That's what the 9/11 hijackers used. They're cheap and easy to find, and you can easily claim that they're just from work or something.
posted by Slinga at 5:53 PM on September 27, 2010


Box cutters were a very common street weapon in NY in the 70s, 80s and 90s (still are, though less so due to the proliferation of handguns). There are countless references to box cutters in older east-coast rap. Any time you hear mention of an "ox," that is a box cutter. Same for "gem star" (a popular brand of single edged razor blade, often wielded in a box cutter). Same for "banger" (a term mostly used by Mobb Deep, but also plenty of other NY/east-coast rappers).

I have always been pretty certain that the popularity of the weapon came from the fact that a box cutter across the face results in a really bloody wound. At the same time, though, it is not at all likely to be used in a fatal or life-threatening attack, which makes it sort of an effective way to make a point without risking actually killing someone. I figure that murder was a step that a lot of stick up kids did not want to take, but they want to send a clear message, so the ox became the tool of choice.

I was cut across the cheek/jaw with a box cutter once in a scuffle, and it was hardly painful. It did, however, make me stop in my tracks because of the amazing amount of blood. And I am certain that the kid that did it was confident that he had gotten his point across.

My take on the B.I.G. lyric is that, at the time, his box cutter was an essential tool. Think of it as a plumber saying that his pipe wrench makes the world go round.
posted by broadway bill at 9:52 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This.

http://highsnobiety.com/columns/frankthebutcher/tag/orange-box-cutter/

Everyone has seen it, but few on here have thought about it in a 'oh shit' moment.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:30 AM on September 28, 2010


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