The Area Codes Project

Because I’m tired, haven’t slept, don’t feel like being at work, and don’t feel like doing anything while I’m stuck at work, I’ve resorted to doing something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but have never had a reason to (I still don’t, but, whatever): the number-to-city interpretation of Ludacris’s 2001 hit single “Area Codes.”

I’ve always hypothesized that Luda’ was clever enough to make each one of these references mean something, have some significance within the context and lyrics of the song, in addition to his candor in mentioning each specific code. Then again, the cynic would suggest the possibility of something much more arbitrary occurring, wherein, this rapper guy used said area codes as stepping blocks to get to the next line, with no significance at all. Here at YM Laboratories, we leave no Ludacris song unturned. Besides, how can you not enjoy a song with both AMG references, as well as the line “Read your whore-o-scope and eat some whore-derves/Ten on pump one/these hoes is self serve.” Come on: that’s funny. Misogynistic, but funny. So was Richard Pryor! If that upsets you, Nate Dogg’s silky smooth voice will make everything okay. This is a great song. Onward.

In order for this to work, I suggest you go to the video. It works better, that way.

770 and 404 - Atlanta, his hometown
718’s, 202’s - New York Outer Boroughs, Washington D.C.
901, 305 - Memphis, Miami
312, 313’s - Central Chicago, Detroit
215, 803 - Philly, Southern South Carolina
757, 410 - Norfolk, Virginia; Eastern Maryland
504, 972 - Eastern Louisiana (including New Orleans), Dallas
713 - Houston
314, 201 - St. Louis, Northern New Jersey
212, 213 - New York City, Downtown L.A.
916, 415, 704 - Sacramento, San Fransisco, Charlotte
206 - Seattle
808 - Hawaii
206, 702, 414 - Cleveland, Vegas, Milwaukee
317, 214, 281 - Metropolitan Indianapolis, Central Dallas, Houston
334, 205 - Southern Alabama, Northern Alabama
318, 601, 203 - Western Louisiana (Shreveport), Southern Miss, New Haven
804, 402, 301 - Richmond, Omaha, Western Maryland
904, 407, 850 - Jacksonville, Orlando, Northern Florida (panhandle)
708, 502 - Oak Brook, IL; Louisville, KY

Now, if you’ve listened to the song, you know he just kind of starts spitting out random numbers at the end. Are they, though? The “904, 407, 850” are all numbers in the same region of the country, as if to acknowledge their obscurity and the nature in which they belong together. Same with “334, 205” - he covers most of Alabama in one line. The pairing of Sacramento, Vegas, and Charlotte is a little arbitrary. So is that of Richmond, Omaha (Ludacris - you’ve been to Omaha?) and Western Maryland. The “shout out to everybody in the 808” is clearly him trying to send a message over the lengths of waters to Hawaii; count it as intentional. 212 and 213 is a pairing of the two major east-coast/west-coast cities in America: intentional. But Seattle? Houston gets mentioned twice in the song - what’s up with all the love from Houston? And Atlanta has way more area codes than just 770 and 404, I believe - why weren’t they in there? “901, matter fact, 305” translates to “Memphis, matter fact, Miami,” so we’ll count that one. Same with “312’s, 313’s (oh)” which is especially clever, as they’re major cities, close to each other, one number off from one another. Delightful! But the next line is Philly and Southern South Carolina - what the hell do those two places have in common?

In the end, I feel the burden of proof lies with skepticism - we have to trust Ludacris in that he knows what connects these cities, even in the smallest of ways, as there seems to be enough evidence to prove that he was doing this with at least some of the lines. Anyway, I just heard the line “I’m the thriller in Manilla/Schlong in Hong Kong” again, and it made me laugh. My god, is this a great song.

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