Ratchet is a big thing on the pop culture scene these days. LL Cool J had a single of that name, it’s been on Beyonce’s earrings via Instagram, and it comes up in the Selfie Song, embedded above. I was riding in a car with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law this weekend and they were obsessed with the above song (who isn’t?), including the Spanish-language over-dubs (they’re Peruvian). They were wondering if the idea of ratchet might come from Nurse Ratched, which seems like the most obvious pop-culture overlay available. I was interested in this — pop culture language is cool, and the fact that rap/hip-hop/general beats may have been taken over by a character from a Ken Kesey novel/Jack Nicholson movie was intriguing — so I decided to do a little more research.
It actually all ties back to Shreveport, Louisiana — which some call “Ratchet City” — and goes back to this music video, “Do Da Ratchet.”
In 2009, Madigo ended up with a life sentence in the Louisiana prison system under the Habitual Offender Law; he had apparently tried to sell crack to an undercover agent. Here’s pretty much the whole case if you’re interested.
So there you have it: arguably the pop culture vocabulary word of late 2013/early 2014 came to you via a guy serving a life sentence in Louisiana right now. It’s weird how stuff works out sometimes.