THE BIRTH OF SWAG / / /

In Justin Bieber’s new single “Boyfriend” he tunes that he’s gonna “swag, swag, swag on you.” Yo Biebs, you’re just as confused as Soulja Boy was back in 2007 – you’re killing swag all over again.

When I think of SWAG the first images that pop to mind are those of Kanye West (God forgive me for I have sinned). I’ll shake these off swiftly because it’s purely a sign of a mind that has become weak with too much exposure to MTV at a young age. So, with these flimsy plastic images discarded, I hereby welcome you to the actual birth of SWAG.

 The word SWAG is a shortened version of the word swagger. No shit.

The first recorded use of the word swagger was by Shakespeare in “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” III.i.79 all the way back in the dizzay – 1595 to be exact.  The quote of the original usage is as follows from character, Puck: “What hempen homespuns have we swaggering here?”

OK, so our beloved Shakespeare invented the word swagger, but he didn’t exactly use it in the same context we do today.

///          SWAG has become the illusive force that the swagless aspire to, often resulting in premature swagulation. Premature swagulation is a symptom of the younger crew, the crew that’s still hooked on the mainstream, the young blood that still pop their metaphorical collar while klapping their YMCMB trash all up in our muhfucking grill. The premature swagulators are seen pomping YMCMB through their Nokia speakers while commuting on the swagless Metrofail, and they’re like: “Damn, I’m swaggin right now and these bitches gotta know. “ – Uhm, Sorry to intercept your deluded little discotheque, but that aint swag, buddy.              ///

And now for something completely different.

Essential nuggets of history to keep as ammo for whenever you find yourself in a compromising, swagless moment in time:

/// ie /// When a swaggerlacking YMCMBaller tries to lay down the phony swag.

Let it rip.

When Soulja Boy stumbled onto the scene – just 17 at the time, he was the first of many rappers to get swag and bling totally mixed up – just like the YMCMB tribe of today. In the process he successfully managed to confuse an entire generation and effectively drag swag through the gutter. It tears my heart into shreds to say this, but this video has recieved over 18 million views on YouTube.

Jay-Z officially opened up the floodgates and let SWAG outa the bag in 2003. He brought SWAG into the mainstream with The Black Album – in the song Public Service Announcement(“Check out my swag, yo / I walk like a ballplayer”) and (“My self-esteem went through the roof, man / I got my swag”).

It’s no surprise that he refers to basketball – we all know that Jay-Z is a monumental hoops fan. (I totally support the rejuvenation of pop culture, especially language – it shifts with the times and to the beat of the media).

Gilbert Arenas, the legendary NBA player eventually coined the original brand of STAG SWAG in 2007 when (after making an improbable shot from area code range whilst downing the Bucks at the buzzer), he said after the game: “My swag was phenomenal.”

Experience that moment in time:

[SWAG by its original definition refers to the way you move around the court, at a pace slower than a run. But, the STAG SWAG that Gilbert denotes is the otherworldly confidence that comes from being in the zone, that absolute self-belief that is born when you know yourself, while, I might add: also being at home in the spotlight.]

Hip-Hop and basketball culture are inseparable – they go together like Gatsbys and Coke. Basketball is and always has been an escape (both mentally and physically) for the brasse from the hood.

“Basketball is a game that is heightened by emotion, decided by rhythm, and enhanced by fluidity, similarly to hip-hop. It’s played on courts across the country from expensive arenas, to inner-city streets (where hip-hop was born).” – The Mind of Manhattan

So Jay-Z, the partial owner of the New York Nets got The Word from his love for basketball and turned it into something a lot bigger. We cannot deny that Jay-Z already had SWAG to begin with, but now he had The Word of God on which to build a multi-billion dollar empire. He was the instigator of SWAG in pop culture, but he was not the inventor of STAG SWAG.  

The lines are so utterly blurred in pop culture, but even though Hip- Hop was the medium, basketball was and always has been the original ringleader.

NOW, Stag Swag is something completely different. Stag Swag is forged in the heat of battle. Stag Swag is not confidence. Stag Swag is more like a sublime and otherworldly self-assurance that comes from deep within. Tupac embodied what we call Stag Swag. Stag Swag is effortless (once you find it). You cannot force it and when you have it nobody can deny it.


When you’ve discovered your Stag Swagyou’ve discovered the secret to life itself.

[WRITTEN AND CONCIEVED BY BARCLAY SIMPSON.]

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