XI. The Swagger Devolution

“A lot of y’all are still sounding like last year. The game need change and I’m the [ milf-loving ] cashier.” ~ Drake’s Successful

Dear Swaggalicious Coontastic Bojanglers,

I’ve been mulling over your misuse of the word swagger and its derivatives for that past several weeks. You know, since I heard “Swag Surfin” and “Turn My Swag On” played on the radio back to back for the first time.

My first thought as the DJ transitioned from one song to the next was simple: I’d be willing to bet my top penny (y’all ain’t worth my bottom dollar) that less than 20 percent of the MCs rappers who have used some form of “swagger” in a song can accurately define humility, confidence and arrogance.

Explain this for me: How am I jackin' something you never had in the first place?

Explain this for me: How am I jackin' something you never had in the first place?

Thing is this: A man with swagger exudes all three in the appropriate situations (YouTube: Your president). I’m not going to explain it much further. I’ll just tell you that I’m certain that none of you clowns has it. And it’s unfortunate. You’re embarrassing your family name and that thing we call hip hop.

See, swagger has slipped in and out of the hip hop lexicon since the late ’70s. But it’s long been a part of urban/black culture. A few starting points: Satchel Paige, Muhammad Ali and Willie Mays. Each of those men backed their swagger up with results, though.

Now, there are 7-year-old boys hopping out their beds in Underoos dead set on “turning their swag on” before they say their prayers. Make that make sense, please.

Don’t get me wrong. I had no problem with “Swagga Like Us.” The verses were spit by four rappers MCs who know how to toe the blurry boundaries around humility, confidence and arrogance — either because they’ve been put in their place (Kanye, T.I.P.) or because they just get it (Jay, Wayne).

But like T-Pain & the vocoder and Jay-Z’s button-downs and taper, everyone had to co-sign on the $1 swaggeriffic bandwagon. Now, it’s an epidemic. SMH.

There’s one jackal of a bojangler who has forced me to see this as such more so than any other: Yes, the one and only, Spectacular. No, I have not nor will I watch your foolishness that is making waves around these here Internets. I watched someone else’s live reaction to you a la “2 Girls, 1 Cup.” The response to the former was similar to every reaction to the latter.

Getting your “male striptease on” and challenging Omarion & friends — this is what you think swagger is? You’d be better off making a video of yourself in a straitjacket and a muzzle while strapped to a ball & chain … at the bottom of the Atlantic with recently freed tiger sharks swarming. That’s a devolution that should be televised.

Thanks to you, Soulja Boy, Pleasure P and Co., we have a clearer vision of what Kanye was talking about in Late Registration’s “Crack (Baby) Music.” Seriously, what real man sincerely wants to kiss his girl through the phone knowing that he’s nothing more than Boyfriend No. 2?

Trust me, I love freedom of speech. But the [manure] you peddle off your tongues should classify as randomly yelling “FIRE!” in the middle of a packed auditorium. I’m quite certain that you don’t even understand what I just said, so I’ll just move on. *smh*

Instead of simply assaulting autotune (the song is cool, but doesn’t go that hard), Jay-Z should have taken an ax to this Swagger Devolution. He should have put you clowns in your place and named it “Takeover 2.0” and expounded upon the half-bar at the end of the original “Takeover.”

Maybe the kids who listen to the foolishness you all make would actually see you for the bojanglers you are? Maybe your Mom might go upside your head like Charles Hamilton’s ex-homeyloverfriend did him? Maybe the heads of your labels would rip up your contracts and kick you off the curbs you sit on and in front of a moving bus?

Whatever the case, I just wish that every rapper with a deal under age 25 — save Drake, Cudi, J. Cole and a few select others — would just quit their day jobs, go back to high school freshman English class and learn to define those words before you ever mention swagger again in another hot 16.

Humility. Arrogance. Confidence. I’ll give you a head start: www.m-w.com

Humbly (if you know what that means),


P.S. Trust me, this is one of those things you do not want to go to UrbanDictionary.com for a proper definition.
P.P.S. “One of Mini-Me’s shoes got more sole/soul than you.” ~ Luda’s “Hip Hop Quotables”


72 responses to “XI. The Swagger Devolution

  1. Of course, I only just figured out what “swagger jacking” was and that it wasn’t in fact a cousin of “panther swiping” — don’t google that. I was even planning on using it in a sentence at some point in the near future. I’m crapping you negative. Thanks for showing me the light.

    Speaking of auto-tune, it’s crept into the world outside of hip hop and into punk rock (or whatever the hell the music I’m about to shove a link to is called). Warning, you’re gonna want to give your ears a rape shower when this song is over.

    • @gooch: Because you said “rape shower” I will not watch the video …. lol ….

      But I’m glad you know what swagger jackin is … we’re trying to educate the masses here. lol.

  2. Your bros roommate

    I wish I could embed sound into this comment so you can hear me clapping. Bravo, sir!

  3. I should also mention that you really shouldn’t look up the name of that band, which is brokencyde, on urban dictionary. Hint: Remember what happened to that Wayans brother in “Scary Movie”?

  4. great blog.. what i love about the unknowledgeable new-age swagger disciples.. is that they don’t understand that true swagger doesn’t come from the material that’s on their backs but from like you said the confidence they exude.. i get to an argument with my younger family members about swagger every time i see them.. again thanks for another great blog..

    • “the confidence they exude”

      @brandon: Welcome, and thanks for commenting …

      the problem here, I think, is that they really believe they’re exuding confidence. And it’s ignorance, instead.

    • “true swagger doesn’t come from the material that’s on their backs but from like you said the confidence they exude”

      @Brandon: So true. Welcome.

  5. it’s definitely a magnetic aura stemming from confidence, body-conscious awareness and all that jazz. However, I’m just tired of the word.

    As for Charles Hamilton, I’m sick of his antics and the Dilla thing was going overboard. Drake…..I’m sorry I still see him as Jimmy in the wheelchair! He’s growing on me tho’.

    • @garcelle: I’m tired of it, too …

      I could watch Charles Hamilton get smacked a million times over. It’s better than seeing the shoes thrown at W. … and Drake, I didn’t want to join the bandwagon early on because of the excessive autotune usage … but dude can flow.

      • The jury is still out regarding his lyrical capabilities but that doesn’t matter nowadays. I hope he can live up to his mixtapes and all the hype. I’m rooting for him though because he seems like a humble, cool dude.

        • @garcelle: I think his lyrical capability is there as well as his actual voice … I think he might sell over 500K in that first week his album drops …

  6. ****clappinjg ferociously, and whistles with two fingers ****

    I can do that whistle in virtual world, ONLY- btw.

    I agree, these ninjas don’t know what true swagger is… additionally, swag is not an adjective or a verb form of swagger, it’s just some shat they made up.

  7. I’m a hipster. All the cool kids were saying swagger-jack and swagger in the pop-cultural from about 2-3 years ago. All of a sudden…its everywhere and its overkill.

    I really hope and pray, the old people aka our parents start saying it…which they will soon…since my (pastor-mother) was jokingly asking if I was blaming my tiredness the other day on the “al-al-al-alcohol” or however you say that foolishness.

    *le sigh*

    • “I really hope and pray, the old people aka our parents start saying it…which they will soon”

      @Felicia: I think if older people start saying it that’s definitely one way to make it go away(for at least another 15 years or so). Kids want nothing to do with what older people say & do.

    • @Felicia: It got popular/chic a few years ago. You’re right.

      But people have been using that term in concerns with black men for a long, long time … it’s just now to this point of making us all want to hurl.

      And if my mother ever says anything about swag ……….

    • @Felicia – The old people ARE saying it…John Madden said it during a football game last season. *smh* If that doesn’t get them to stop I don’t know what will.

  8. Morning, y’all.

    @Nicki: I’m with you…I can’t whistle to save my life.

    @Garcelle & @Damon: I agree. The jury is still out on Drake but he is growing on me. I like “Successful” and the one with Little Brother & Dwele. Looking forward to hearing more from him. I also like Cudi…yes, even Make Her Say/Poke Her Face. Shameful I know, but I really like that song.

    Now to the matter at hand. Well done. I’m happy to see that swag, swagger, swagger jackin’, and any other variation are being addressed. Crack Baby Music…hilarious. Love it. I pay absolutelty no attention to Pretty Ricky, Pleasure P, Spectacular and Soulja Boy. Like @damon, I have not seen the frequently discussed Spectacular stuff. Hearing about it is more than enough for me. Soulja Boy makes me want to jump out the window (only slight exaggeration). As soon as one of these names comes across the screen, I turn it. I can’t. I just can’t.

    Swagger is definitely not something that is turned off & on. Either you have it or you don’t. Good move listing President Obama as an example (& in my humble opinion, so is Denzel). It’s definitely a balanced combination of humbleness/humility, confidence & arrogance and knowing when to exert each. I equate saying you have swagger with peple who have to say (or remind us) that they’re grown. If you’re grown, you don’t have to go around saying it & claiming it. If you possess swagger, you don’t have to go around saying it. People can spot it a mile away. It’s in one’s actions & the way he carries himself.

    Thanks for letting them know not to look it up in the Urban Dictionary. You know I detest it.

    • @shawnta: “Successful” is my favorite Drake track.

      The remake of “Poker Face” is dope because of how they spin the original song.

      Do not, Do not watch “2 girls, 1 cup” … period. Watch someone’s reaction to watching it. It’s enough. I’m laughing a JLBD right now because I never realized that she watch it.

      I didn’t say Denzel or any others because I didn’t necessarily want to look like was E. Lynning. lol. Obama is a safe pick because everybody’s supposed to look up to him.

      And you’re right, you don’t have to say you have it. You literally exude it. But these clowns who don’t, can’t define it. That’s what’s sad.

      They’re running around using words and altering words they know nothing about. smh.

      • Yeah, I watched it a while ago after I had heard such crazy talk about it and then I saw the episode of ‘Family Guy’ when Brian made Stewie watch it and Stewie dang near lost it. Then after so many reaction videos I went and found a link to it and that’s when I lost however many brain cells and burned some of the retina in my eyes from watching that filth. I showed it to Mr. 3000 and the look on his face was priceless. To this day I’m still trying to convince myself that they were actually working with chocolate ice cream, but in the back of my mind, I know there are people out there sick enough for it not to be…smh @ myself…. 😦

        • @jlbd: yeah, smh at you for watching that “doodoo” … lol. I will never. ever.

          The reactions are/were enough for me.

          • Oh! so you haven’t actually seen it???? Wow, uh yeah, consider yourself lucky. You can literally smell the ‘act’ through the computer screen…

            • “yeah, smh at you for watching that “doodoo” ”

              “You can literally smell the ‘act’ through the computer screen…”

              @damon & @jlbd: It gets worse & worse, the more comments I read. LOL.

  9. I have to admit, I didn’t even start using the word swagger until Mr. Obama came onto the scene long before his presidency. He exudes swagger…

    On another note, my reaction to Spectacular was nowhere near my reaction to ‘2 girls 1 cup’, at least with Spectacular I could actually laugh at him instead of feeling like I was about to lose my lunch!

    • @jlbd & @damon: Okay…so, I’m out of the loop here & missing something. What is this “2 girls 1 cup”? I’m almost scared to ask. I can’t/won’t Google it because I’m at work.

      • @Shawnta’

        Don’t dare google it at work, they’ll likely pink slip you and burn your desktop computer in the process. It’s a horrifying situation with two women, one cup, and a hefty bowel movement, that’s all I’ll say. It’s hard to find on google for free but if you can dig for a few minutes you’ll find an indirect link to the horrifying atrocity. I was sorry I looked, somebody told me about it and the curiosity killed me, literally… smh…

        • @jlbd: Thanks. I definitely will NOT be looking this up…at work or at home. Pay for it? Are you kidding me? Yeah, thanks but no thanks.

    • @jlbd: The one live reaction to Spectacular rivaled 2g1c … that was more than enough for me. And yes, I’m exaggerating because I think Spectacular is a pile of manure. …

      make that subtle connection, please. lol.

      • I see the subtle connection, but if you ever muster up the courage to watch the Spectacular videos you’ll find it to actually be hilarious because he really thinks he’s looking s3xy but doesn’t realize that he looks like a glittery fairy dancing around…smh

        • @jlbd: Watching the Spectacular video has nothing to do with courage. Rather, it has everything to do with me not wanting to commit my time to watching that coon bojangle across a room thinking he’s even somewhat important to the fabric of my life.

          Same reason I won’t watch for the love of brandy’s brother.

          • lol! Ha! I hear that. He just needs to come on out of that dark closet….smh btw, Brandy’s brother got renewed for a season 2….smmfh!

  10. I refuse to type the word but I’m waiting for an early and proper burial.

  11. natural nubian

    i’m only 25 but why do i feel like the granny left out of the loop, still thinking the temptations & supremes will make a come back album 😦 ?
    *hanging head low in shame*

    no lie, the 1st thing that came to mind when i read “pleasure P” was “pleasure principle” by janet jackson. my guess is i’m wrong *continuing to hang my head*

    what is sawgger-jackin’? who is spectacular? i’m still waiting to figure out why all the hype over this ‘drake’ person….i mean no last name? i was pretty sure only producers could step out onto the scene with only one name. artists need two and then if they’re the *ish they graduate to one-name fame.

    • @nn: You have to be joking? You don’t know who Pleasure P or Spectacular is? Seriously?

      In this one specific case, ignorance is truly bliss …

      Swagger jacking is when you “player hate” on someone’s swag. lol.

      BTW, if you were being facetious, this comment was hilarious. If you weren’t, this comment was hilarious. lol.

      • natural nubian

        honestly i’m feelin’ like rainebeaux below ever since soulja boy put white out on his $5 canal street knock off shades and became famous with the 21st century bojangle-jive. no one i know has told me how much i’m missing. i’ve heard the names & hype, but every time i try to get back on the band wagon of current affairs i remember why i jumped off in the 1st place.

        prime example i haven’t watched an award show for years, only to turn on and see m.i.a. in her halloween pregnant bumble-bee see-thru costume! her defense: she wasn’t going to pass up the chance of being a part of history (as if her repetitive echo couldn’t have been played back by a d.j.) as the 4 “greatest rappers of all time” (really?) performed.

        so no damon, not joking. imma stick with the pre-autotune days of hip hop, no matter how outdated i may seem.

        • @nn: I can get with that … and no, those aren’t the four greatest rappers of all time. I know you were joking, but i felt the need to say it again. lol.

          I just don’t want you to miss out on some of the good stuff that’s out there. And there is some of it. Cudi, J.Cole and Drake (when he raps) actually bring it pretty tough.

  12. Thanks to the aforementioned “swaggalicious coontastic bojanglers” (lol), I don’t dare listen to top 40 radio anymore! I have to conserve my sanity watchers points, you know. “turn my swag on”–pffft! How about turning on the nearest light to READ A HONKIN BOOK!? Pull yer pants up for corn’s sake; your ignance (no typo) is showing!

    2g/1c versus Spectacular: the only way I found out about the former was via a photo of a tattoo summarizing same (insert thought bubble here: what THE–!? Ew squared man! What!?!). As for the latter, yeah…I actually saw that; to this day I can’t figure out which was worse: the dancing itself or the song he was dancing to!

    *le sigh in HD* I’m so tempted to quit humanity sometimes.

    • @rainebeaux: Never quit humanity. lol. …. And yeah, top 40 radio is tough on the ears. It’s that young demographic that controls it, though.

      And this is what they want to hear: An out-of-tune clown from ATL whaling (sp) about turning his swag on when he gets out the bed in the morning. smh.

    • “I’m so tempted to quit humanity sometimes.”

      @rainebeaux: Love it.

  13. I see I’m late to the party…..

    I’m glad you decided to write this since I did vote for it and have been waiting. It was all I expected and more. I am SO over this whole “swag movement” just like I’m over the whole “hater” movement.

    Just because you say you have swagger doesn’t make it true. It really isn’t even something you can say about yourself it is up to the people that view/interact with you to determine that. I wouldn’t have that big a problem with it if it wasn’t being mis and overused.

    As far as hating is concerned (I only bring this up because you mentioned the “swagger jacking” thing which I actually always thought was someone copying your style not hating on your swagger but whatev.) when did having your own opinion turn you into a hater? It is beliefs like this that turn us into a bunch of drones.

    • @tam: Maybe i need to look up the definition of Swagger jacking on urbandictionary.com …. *shrugs* … lol.

      But no, there was a reason why I waited to run this. I can’t remember but it made sense at the time. I might look back to figure it out or else it might work me over for a while. smh.

  14. hahah @ you guys saying “the old people”

  15. It pains me to witness how twisted and meaningless these clowns have made hip hop. Millions are made off beats…because the lyrics are trash. It’s a dishonor to even refer to this mess as hip hop. True, gritty lyricists (like Rakim) should’ve been the ones to make the dough. I’ve long been disillusioned and agree with and am raising my fist to “death to the swag facade”! Great post, D!

    • @melzie: There will be few who will ever touch Rakim because too many of these fools think “half-steppin” is the way to go… smh. and thx for commenting.

  16. Absolutely, love the definition of the word swagger but absolutely hate its constant use (I’m sure its only second to “Da” in the urban vernacular). Anyway, good article but like many above me, I’m not particularly impressed by Drake either. His songs are mediocre @ best. He has good wordplay but his flows are kind of cut and paste. In essence he’s like the Family Guy of Rap, his songs are just a hodge podge of clips that could be interchanged between other songs (or episodes) or even better…he’s a light skinned auto-tuned F-A-B-O-L-O-U-S *in rhythm of course*

    Good job as always D. And although this is not the forum: should Smokey add the Royals to his list of complaints to Craig in “Friday”. Ham, no burger. Kool-Aid, no suger. Peanut Butter, no jelly. Meche, no Greinke?

    • @Oates: I think I’m feeling Drake a little because of the wordplay … I’m gonna be curious to see how this album does … But you should also listen to J.Cole …

      And yeah, Meche, No Greinke … smh. Big Joem my brother and I went out last night hoping for something great. and we were, of course, let down.

  17. while we’re at it, can we mention over-usage of the word “shorty/shawty”…whatever. that really grinds my gears where every other word is that nonsense…

    AND i’m soo glad lil wayne started enunciating again…that jibberish-mumble rap thing was dumb. especially, when kids were actually talking like that..

    (i mean, if we’re airing our gripes and everything. lol)

  18. Why did I go out at lunch and her ‘Swag Surfin’ as soon as I started my car up?…..

  19. A dear friend who wants to free Zoo animals just invited me to this event:



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