Anyone who says they’ve never used “swagger” to describe something is a bald-faced liar. They can go sit with with the people who say they don’t watch TV. IN HELL. When swagger first swanned into our lives as hip-hop vernacular (I’m not talking about the Flogging Molly album) it was fantastic! It described that mega special je ne sais wtfever. A convenient catchall for vocabularily atrophied moments. It’s like “cool,” if “cool” wore a jaunty ascot. And maybe some sort of antique belt buckle.
But now, as everything does, “swagger” has mutated into a bajillion-headed freakshow monster. I, like most red-blooded females, do ADORE the deliciousness that is Clifford Joseph Harris Jr. (a.k.a. T.I.) and I’m not mad at “Swagger Like Us.” What I find irksome is the heavyweight slaphappy swagger spitfest starring Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Diddy, Jeezy, Andre 3000, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana and the estimably named rapper-turned producer Chink Santana (no relation) that followed.
“SLU” spawned additions, new editions, rumored R&B versions (all outlined much more lovingly and laboriously by my awesome friend and fellow korean Miss Info here), and a whole mess of crazypants shit talking, care of da Capo Jim Jones, who proclaims his rock and roll style (which he came up with all by himself obvi) is often jacked.
Here’s what I don’t understand. Is the person who says they had swagger first the winner? Take Kanye’s couplet “Ayo, I know I got it first/I’m Christopher Columbus, ya’ll just the pilgrims.” Does everyone on the track who comes after him (Jay, Wayne, T.I.) a pilgrim? What about native americans? Aren’t indigenous peoples the most first? Also, if it is the first person then why is EVERYONE following the typical model of “call and response” where it seems the lyricist who last declares themselves most swaggersome is the winner: “Tag, you’re the swaggee to my swagger, jacker.”
Is the swaggerest person on the T.I. version M.I.A.? She does sing the hook upon which the song ends…
All tolled, I think the whole thing is bromantic as all get out. Rappers are poo-pooing pairing Gucci with Louis and how they were up on Hermes first. If it’s common knowledge that women dress for other women, I think it’s safe to say that rappers clearly dress for other rappers.