It's Your Birthday, Have a Party
October 6, 2005 8:23 AM   Subscribe

What are the origins of the chant "it's your birthday, have a party" (repeat ad nauseam)?

I remember first hearing it in the early nineties, used in a general congratulatory/celebratory way (it wasn't anyone's birthday). It was accompanied by either a cabbage-patch dance move or the ever-popular raise-the-roof gesture. I know it's sometimes followed by another line like "get stupid." Is it from a song? A movie? Or did it just percolate up through oral tradition?
posted by kmel to Writing & Language (25 answers total)
 
What region was it from? I've never heard it before here in the UK region...
posted by Chunder at 8:27 AM on October 6, 2005


The 50 Cent song? In Da Club.
posted by GuyZero at 8:28 AM on October 6, 2005


Sorry! This is probably pure U.S.A.
posted by kmel at 8:29 AM on October 6, 2005


The chant predates the 50 Cent song by years. It was in a Kevin Smith film (probably Chasing Amy), but it probably predates that as well. Try Word Origins.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:31 AM on October 6, 2005


50 Cent did not invent the "It's Your Birthday" chant.

I can't cite the actual source, but Ryan Cameron used to sing the "It's Your Birthday" song during his morning show on the late, great Hot 97.5 here in Atlanta back in 1996 or so.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:42 AM on October 6, 2005


I think there's a variation where the singer says, "It's your birthday...get your game on...go...go...It's your birthday....have a party...go...go!" Perhaps this will jog someone's memory.
posted by acoutu at 8:58 AM on October 6, 2005


Isn't it Luke, formerly of 2 Live Crew?
posted by pullayup at 9:04 AM on October 6, 2005


Sorry! This is probably pure U.S.A.

And perhaps purely regional. Or age-specific.

I'm a middle aged Pacific Northwesterner, and I've never heard this before. Under what circumstances is it used? Instead of singing "Happy Birthday"?
posted by jdroth at 9:06 AM on October 6, 2005


I'm from the UK and use this phrase. I don't know about anyone else, but to me it's not necessarily related to someone's birthday. It comes into that whole range of male-to-male endearing-yet-sounds-insulting dialect of English.. stuff like "champ", "your mom", etc. Like if you're out with a buddy and he's pulled some chick, you might tease him by doing the whole ass-whipping "yo shorty, it's your birthday!" piece.
posted by wackybrit at 9:17 AM on October 6, 2005


It could be age-specific. It's not regional, though. I think everyone I know in both New York and Illinois knows the "go **name**, it's your birthday" chant. And it was from way before 50 Cent.

It's more of the equivalent to "you go girl" than something you say only on someone's birthday. Although, on someone's birthday it's almost de rigeur for someone to say it at some point.
posted by MsMolly at 9:18 AM on October 6, 2005


I heard it often in New England in the late-80s, where it was sort of an extended version of "you go girl!"/"you're so cool" if you get my meaning. A phrase of encouragement sort of? The usage rules are murky.

and i can't help on the origins. I just wanted to add supporting evidence.
posted by misterbrandt at 9:20 AM on October 6, 2005


I'm inclined to pin this on 2 Live Crew. It's the right timeframe for Clerks as well and the phrase acoutu lists.
posted by phearlez at 9:30 AM on October 6, 2005


"not for real though, just for play-play" is in the version of this that I've always heard.

(but doing a search doesn't bring up the source, as far as I could see)
posted by pinky at 9:31 AM on October 6, 2005


I think it was Luke, AKA Luther Campbell, from 2 Live Crew, who recorded "It's Your Birthday" back in 1994. I don't know of any reference earlier than this, although Luke almost certainly lifted the cultural reference from somewhere. Read more about the Miami Bass scene here.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:59 AM on October 6, 2005


Huh. There you go. I found a sample here. Or go directly to the sample.
posted by GuyZero at 10:20 AM on October 6, 2005


I seem to recall it from John Leguizamo and Martin Lawrence stand up and possibly also from In Living Color.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:38 AM on October 6, 2005


My earliest recollection of this term has fuzzy ties to the "Martin" show with Martin Lawrence. Most notably the Shanaenae character. Fits in around the time of 2 Live Crew but I think predates Chasing Amy.
posted by mnology at 10:39 AM on October 6, 2005


Oh, and I've also heard the chant:

"Go white boy, it's your birthday..."
posted by Pollomacho at 10:39 AM on October 6, 2005


Just noting that Martin & Sheneneh are from 1992-1997.
posted by mnology at 10:42 AM on October 6, 2005


This fifty-year-old bi-coastal white boy's never heard this (and I´m grateful).
posted by Rash at 10:52 AM on October 6, 2005


I remember it from a movie in 1993.
posted by willpie at 12:04 PM on October 6, 2005


I would definitely pin this on Luke from 2 Live Crew (one of the many horrible catch phrases they are responsible for, viz. "me so horny" [though obviously that's not an original]), and the fact that people think 50 Cent intented this astounds me. I mean, Puffy sampling a 20-year-old disco song is enough of a time gap for people not to recognize it, but "go Martin, its your birthday, get busy," is barely ten years old, and has been repeated nearly constantly ever since.

On top of that, 50 uses an entirely different inflection and pacing when he does the "go mama[whatever], it's your birthday, we gonna party like its your birthday," bridge, one that I believe is intentionally quite reminiscent of a sample. Its practically done in monotone, is pretty generic lyrics-wise, and slips on and off the beat - much like a time- and pitch-shifted sample would - all of which are meant to imply that it is a sample, even if it is 50 voicing it; the sample he's hearing over the speakers in the club, perhaps. Compare that to the "You can find my in the club, bottle full of bub, momma I got what you need if you need to feel the buzz, I'm into having sex I ain't into makin love..." Chorus, which is slurred (I'm drunk), bouncy (I'm in the club and its hopping), playful (all my boys are with me and its poppin off), and hard on the beat. All of which is meant to imply that we are back to the first person.

Also definitely associated with the cabbage patch, and definitely on par/timeframe with "you go, girl," but not nearly as annoying because it had a silly dance associated with it. As time went on, obviously the words started to change, but "not game time, just for replay" or whatever the variation mentioned above was is pretty weird.
posted by ChasFile at 12:14 PM on October 6, 2005


and the fact that people think 50 Cent intented this astounds me. I mean, Puffy sampling a 20-year-old disco song is enough of a time gap for people not to recognize it, but "go Martin, its your birthday, get busy," is barely ten years old,

Dude, try DJing in a club and having a girl come up to you and saying "Hey, could you play something old school, like P. Diddy"

FIRST OF ALL, fucking P. Diddy? What, you're too young to remember him as Puff Daddy? Second of all, fucking P. Diddy, old school?

That was almost as bad as the time my friend's (much) younger brother made the statement, "What the fuck is up with that band New Order totally ripping off Orgy?"

Makes you feel old, eh?

That is all.
posted by fishfucker at 12:22 PM on October 6, 2005


That was almost as bad as the time my friend's (much) younger brother made the statement, "What the fuck is up with that band New Order totally ripping off Orgy?"

My soul just died a little.
posted by phearlez at 3:06 PM on October 6, 2005 [1 favorite]


FIRST OF ALL, fucking P. Diddy? What, you're too young to remember him as Puff Daddy? Second of all, fucking P. Diddy, old school?

Since he's now just called Diddy, P. Diddy could be considered to be old school ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 6:27 PM on October 6, 2005


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