To me, it's an adjective used to describe someone who talks clearly and gets the message across. Of course it sometimes also depends on what the message is.
For example, check out Akon below singing the chart-busting, hip-thrusting number "Smack that"
I see the one, because she be that lady! Hey!
I feel you creeping, I can see it from my shadow
Wanna jump up in my Lamborghini Gallardo
Maybe go to my place and just kick it like TaeBo
And possibly bend you over look back and watch me
Smack that all on the floor
Smack that give me some more
Smack that 'till you get sore
Smack that oh-oooh!
That's articulate man. I get the message without any doubts. Unequivocally, without a shadow of doubt, shake your booty, shake that thing, shake your moneymaker, smack that.
Much before Akon, there was Vanilla Ice with - oh come on, you know the song don't you ?. Sample this (also note recurrence of "Lamborghini")
Yo -- so I continued to a1a beachfront ave.
Girls were hot wearing less than bikinis
Rockman lovers driving lamborghinis
Jealous cause I'm out geting mine
Shay with a gauge and vanilla with a nine
Reading for the chumps on the wall
The chumps acting ill because theyre so full of eight balls
Gunshots ranged out like a bell
I grabbed my nine -- all I heard were shells
Rockman ? Shay ? grabbed my what ? I have no idea what he was talking about. Vanilla Ice is not articulate. No way Jose, he ain't got no good English.
I can go on and on about this, but you get my point. I mean think about it. Think of a person you know, who you can call articulate. Ever thought about what he looks like ? I didn't.
But it seems that this is a matter of raging debate in the USA. In fact, its been that way for quite some time, only I never knew it. It seems that you do not go around calling a black brother "articulate". Uh-huh. Don't you go around calling me articulate or I'll kick that white ass of yours.
Ok, so maybe that's not how Lynette Clemeston words it in this NY Times article where she writes
It is amazing that this still requires clarification, but here it is. Black people get a little testy when white people call them “articulate.”
and there's more - like this
When whites use the word in reference to blacks, it often carries a subtext of amazement, even bewilderment. It is similar to praising a female executive or politician by calling her “tough” or “a rational decision-maker.”
And this one last part (just because it quotes a show I enjoy - Real time with Bill Maher)
The comedian and actor D. L. Hughley, a frequent guest on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” says that every time he appears on the show, where he riffs on the political and social issues of the day, people walk up to him afterward and tell him how “smart and articulate” his comments were.
“Everyone was up in arms about Michael Richards using the N-word, but subtle words like this are more insidious,” Mr. Hughley said. “It’s like weight loss. The last few pounds are the hardest to get rid of. It’s the last vestiges of racism that are hard to get rid of.”
I've never been to the USA and I have no idea what the politically correct way is to describe a black person who talks with clarity and gets his message across to his listeners. Think Denzel Washington in his closing speech in Philadelphia. Impassioned and articulate. Message across loud and clear. Think Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction. clever, cool and articulate ? I think so.
So now what ? Hang on, let me check the synonyms for articulate..
This one says "eloquent, facund, silver-tongued, smooth-spoken"
Facund ? as in "Yo Akon, you one facund brother" ?
And silver-tongued ? like "Mr. Washington, I believe you were quite silver-tongued in that closing speech you gave before the jury" ?
And that would be better than calling a black person articulate ?
Anyone out there from the USofA who can