Badman (slang)

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Badman is a word that was originally used in Kingston, Jamaica in the 1980s ska and Jamaican dancehall cultures. It was used to describe an anti-social youth who was non law-abiding and was feared by others. They were often gang members.

After the integration of Jamaican culture with that of the United Kingdom in the 1970s onwards, badman (along with several other words and phrases) became of common usage in the UK, where it has gained particular popularity in London and the South-East. The words badman and very rarely badgirl are also associated with such UK music scenes as grime and Dubstep.

The words are used in this context to describe a person who is either powerful, someone who commands respect in their neighbourhood, or someone affluent, any of which would make them stand out from the crowd. In the UK grime culture, MCs whose lyrics are particularly meaningful or persuasive are said to be a badman. The term can also be used sarcastically to describe somebody who has an inflated ego or brags about illegal acts.

The word has parallels with other terms, such as gangsta, rude boy, or bad boy.