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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A TRIBUTE TO AFRIKAAPS – THE DOCUMENTARY.

Die brasse.

AFRIKAAPS: The Kaapse/Cape Town dialect of Afrikaans.

“Kom Khoi San kry terug jou land, coloreds kom from Khoi San verstand.”

Afrikaaps is a documentary film about the theatre production of Afrikaaps that set out to tell the truth behind the origin of Afrikaans, and succeeded.

See the trailer here: http://youtu.be/DYifENqE3hU

For all of us who live in Cape Town, I feel it’s imperative that we all see this film. It will help us appreciate the richness of our culture and add a new level of understanding in our everyday interactions.

Sien tsjy, black men and women in South Africa have been given every opportunity to find catharsis – to heal from the struggle. But Coloreds have been forgotten, their culture is stereotyped as gangster, their language is sidelined.

“In modern South Africa Afrikaans is generally seen as a European language, however there is a side to this language, a Creole birth of Afrikaans that has been suppressed and overlooked for centuries.”       – Dylan Valley

When a colored goes for a job interview, he/she has to watch their tongue. If they speak in Kaapse Afrikaans they are burned at the stake. They are crucified. They are stereotyped as a gangster. They are made to feel inferior. So they change their accent when they go in to impress the white man.

The brown man” carries the brunt of the struggle in this country. They are not given the recognition they deserve. They needn’t hold that shame anymore.

In Cape Town we do not honour the pain that coloreds have had to endure so us white people can move up the food chain. Coloreds are the workhorses; they keep the cogs of Cape Town turning.

They weren’t given an opportunity to heal until Dylan Valley and his crew decided to tell their story.

Afrikaaps did something that defies gravity; they did something so utterly ballsy – they took Afrikaaps, the ensemble that represented everything that the traditional stuck-up Afrikaners always frowned apon, to the Grahamstown Festival. They blew the lid right off.

Get yourselves a copy of the DVD.

For more info visit their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/afrikaaps 

“I would make excuses when I spoke Afrikaans. I’d say: Listen, excuse me, my Afrikaans is a little messed up. But now I make no excuses. This is how I speak. Take it or leave it.” – Emile Jansen

Salute.

Directed and filmed by Dylan Valley.

THE CHARLES JOHN INTERVIEW.

    When starting a blog about pop culture, it only makes sense to start by interviewing my friends that have a direct influence on my life. Also, it is a good idea to start with artists who are destined for stardom, thus making all of you famous simply by association.

Charles John has his creative fingers directly on the pulse of Cape Town culture. He is a 3rd year Art Direction student at the Red & Yellow School in Cape Town. He lives in Athlone.

I hope you enjoy what he has to say:

Aweh.

  •  Whatsup man.

 Hoe lyk it?

  •  Dit lyk lekker.

Charles John, what is your power animal?

  •  My power animal! Hahaha! That is a very easy question actually. My power animal is very defined. It is definitely a white dragon with golden armour over its head and partly on it’s back legs, but as it needs more armour it makes more armour.

 What’s your favourite petrol station?

  •  Hahahahahaha. This is probably the best question so far.

Well it’s only the second question.

  •  Yes Ok, well my favourite petrol station is ironically the same petrol station that I always punt, which is … Shell. This is because … yoh, it’s weird because it’s the same reason people kind of use microwaves, smoke cigarettes. You know that it’s bad but the convenience of it, or the lack of other options drives you to use something that you know you shouldn’t be taking part in. I’m basically a whore.

 Do you sleep, Charles John?

  •  I sleep all the time. I’m sleeping right now. I’ve perfected the art of sleep talking. And most people think I’m awake when in actual fact I’m sleeping. Ya, I have advanced technology in these glasses – it makes it look like my eyes are moving, when infact they’re not. They are a recording of my eyes open.

 How many hours of sleep do you require, and why?

  •  24 hours of sleep, because I’m a 25 hour man.

 What is your take on faux fur coats?

  •  They are beast man, or non-beast you know, because they’re not from a beast. But I think that they’re cool. I like fake shit in general. Fake shit, fake people. You know, as long as you know you’re fake then I’m cool. As long as you’re not pretending to be something else.

 Would you consider yourself a fine artist? A graphic artist? A futurist?  What the hell are you man, what are you?

  • I’ve been struggling with this question for a long time. Definitely not a fine artist. And personally I just like to refer to myself as a creative. Definitely not a futurist, I don’t think anyone’s a futurist.  People like to create these things, you know, these words, but as soon as that day comes you’ve defeated the purpose in whatever the heck you were talking about to begin with. You’re living in the present so you cannot then qualify yourself as a futurist. But ya, I’m a creative.

 What will the world look like in 10 years time?

  •  Like it does now, but with more people…and stuff. That’s my prediction. I predict that. I stand for it. I guarantee it. The world will still be round.

What do you mean? Not triangular?

  •  A round world. I’m guaranteeing a round world.

What needs to be exposed in Cape Town? Anything that you feel is not getting the attention it deserves?

  •  The hipsters are largely overrated in Cape Town, and it’s come to a point that anything that is outside of what we consider normality is automatically hipster-is. It’s such a mundane blanket word. It’s actually a hateful word. I think that calling someone a hipster when they’re not a hipster is a hate crime, you know, it’s like calling me a hotnot. That’s what it’s like. That’s how I feel. I’m more offended when someone calls me a hipster than when someone calls me a hot not.
  • And yeah, what needs to be exposed: Yoh. There’s so much under this culture, like colored people in general, you know, like the way that we speak. The way we walk, the way we communicate, the way that we talk to each other with our eyes. Black culture; the hood. The way black men from the hood wear their skinny jeans in comparison to the way white men from Constantia wear their skinny jeans: it’s completely different. I’m talking about don’t touch my ankles swag, you know. And I’m talking about the kind of swag when you’re owning it. It’s not like: Haha his pants are too short, it’s like: That shit is dope.

 What do you think about advertising and the future of advertising?

  •  Advertising? This is the hardest question. Advertising? I think … I’m actually writing a blog about it right now. I see it going completely online. And advertising right now I’d say…is in its prime. Probably everyone that was in their time likes to think that whatever’s going on is in its prime.
  • I’m very afraid that advertising might implode in on itself, you know, because digital in itself is so simple, so easy for everyone to do. If everyone decides they wanna be a freelance advertiser, you know, we’ll end up with so much spam and that spam will equal advertising in the minds of the audience. Then how do you defer your advertising from spam? Are people just going to neglect advertising on a whole because it’s just this influx of shit? And that’s kind of what I’m seeing: that advertising will collapse in on itself.
  • I’m wondering now, based on your question, how will advertising separate itself from the virtual spam of the future?

And what is your take on the Cape Town street art scene?

  •  What street art scene? Are you talking about the government painting all the white shit over the graffiti? Yoh! That is the Cape Town street art scene! The Cape Town street art scene is government blocks of white paint, which I don’t respect. In that respect, I have no respect for Cape Town street art because it’s all white blocks from the government. Because they decided that they wanted to get rid of gang graffiti, but in their bylaw they qualify anything as gang graffiti that is not the original number of the building or the original colour of the building. So everything that is on a building, on a wall, even if it’s not gang graffiti, they’ll remove. That has become street art today in Cape Town. It’s bullshit.

 What do you think pop culture actually is?

  • Yoh! Pop culture?! Pop culture is literally… I would define it as whatever is tweaking mass medias’ nipples, you know, that’s what pop culture is. That’s what Andy Warhol was. Pop culture is what makes the media, the commercial media be like: What the fuck? Some of the stuff is timeless, but pop culture in of itself is questionable, and impressionable and malleable within itself. It doesn’t take itself so seriously, but it pretends to take itself seriously in its “non-seriousness”. It’s such an abnormality. It’s weird; I think it’s whatever’s tweaking contemporary medias nipples.

 People say Cape Town is cliquey, do you think so?

  •  Clicky, as in isi-Xhosa, you mean?

No cliquey as in you hang out with your clique.

  •  Yes and no. Yes in the sense that obviously people hang out in cliques, but no in the sense that you can’t really call it cliquey because it’s the nature of human kind to surround ourselves with people similar to ourselves. It’s the process of natural selection. We stay in herds, we need to be around people that in case danger arises that we’re around people that we’re safe with, you know, you don’t want to be around people and 90% of those people run away from their comfort zone, and leave you stranded. So, being in a clique is negative in a social way, but in a human way it’s the most natural thing.

 What’s the best spot to chow in Cape Town?

  •  At the moment I’m into Rafiki’s on a Monday evening man, and booze ball. Ya.

 Are you going to the Lady Gaga concert?

  •  Fuck no.
Charles John has his own blog:
You can also follow him on twitter: @thecharlesjohn

 

 

YMCMB is a plague that infects the colored community. (PART 1)

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“You spell colored like this: Colored. We live in a global community now and this is how we like It.”                 – Charles John

I hang out with coloreds. I shmaak them. They seem to shmaak me, most of the time – the wightie. I like the way they help each other out; as opposed to us whities who live in live in little boxes made of ticky-tacky that all look the same. (Sure, they rob each other too, but so do white people, everyday – it’s called economics.) This is not about why I think colored people are better or worse, I am writing this because they represent Cape Town. The Cape Flats represent Cape Town.

Coloreds were kicked out of their communities in the 1950’s during the Group Areas Act. Having spent a lot of time talking to coloreds, I’ve heard time after time about how the government pumped their communities full of mandrax to keep them numb during this time.

Tik and Heroin have since taken over, and the gangs have become more powerful, more idolized among the children growing up on the Flats than ever before.

It is no surprise that YMCMB is the brand that coloreds are embracing more than any other right now. They had the carpet ripped from under them. Social status is obviously a big deal. They’ve grown up in communities riddled with drug and gang culture. They’re been forced to hustle and flow.

Who are the Young Money Cash Money Billionaires?  I’m sure you know by now: They are a combination of Young Money Entertainment and Cash Money Records. It’s the brainchild of Lil’ Wayne and Birdman. They are the bain of our society. “DAMN, Lil Wayne and Birdman are such YMCMB ballers!” Everyone on the flats wants to be a baller, except the ones that don’t.

Those of us who still resonate with brands do so because they reflect who we THINK we are, but, on a deeper level, brands connect us to our tribes. Brands connect us to our people. They are the symbol of belonging to something greater than ourselves. YMCMB connect the tribe whose mindset is about moving up in the eyes of society.

There is a perception among white people in cape Town that coloreds are all about status; They pimp their rides, they boost their sound system; They wanna be seen with gold  chains and fresh sneakers. It makes them feel like they’re moving up in the world. This is not entirely a warped perception – nobody wears brands with as much pride as coloreds. It just seems so ironic that they have always embodied brands like Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Quicksilver, Element, Hurley, to name just a few – brands that are historically “white”.

YMCMB at least represents the “Get Rich or Die Trying” mindset, which is black. At least it’s not white. But it’s still not colored. It’s not Cape Town. It’s more of the same second hand American sleaze.

When coloreds realize that their story is worth telling, they’ll stand up and create their own brand. Dear ouens: I wish you would stop chasing the fucking American Dream, it’s dead. Fok. They’ve already gotten rich, and they haven’t died trying.

You on the other hand have the potential to make the world stand up and take notice. Check what Die Antwoord has done – they’ve blown up overseas; and they’re not even colored!

Africa is hot right now. The rest of the world cannot get enough. We need to jump on the bandwagon. We need to milk it for all it’s worth.