The Death of Swag

By: Nick Campbell

Swagger: A very confident and typically arrogant or aggressive gait or manner.

Adjective: Denoting a coat or jacket cut with a loose flare from the shoulders.

Confidence: A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

These are the definitions of the dueling terms according to the dictionary. Yet, for some reason people get these terms mixed up. Thanks to pop culture these terms have almost blended together to the level of confusion.  Rap artists in particular have incorrectly injected this term into the younger generations psyche. For that matter, even older generations are running around saying they have “swagger” or “swag” for short. Little do they realize that the dictionary is not the only way to separate these two terms. Either that or they are going around referring to their jackets with loose flare hanging from the shoulders.

Quite simply “swagger” is merely someone acting obnoxious under the “guise” of confidence.  Today’s artists in the pop culture scene has somehow got people convinced, that if you lack class or style, it can be made up through obnoxiousness and absurdity.  I’ll give you two examples; the late rapper Notorious BIG (RIP) was not exactly a sex symbol. Not that it should matter if it’s about being a quality MC, which is an argument we won’t go into on this article. But in an attempt to make up for his physical shortcomings, he chose to distract and deflect by saying “black and ugly as ever, however I stay Gucci down to the socks”

With this lyric, in my opinion, set the foundation for the “swagger” term to make its introduction. Somehow, the fact that he had money seemed to deflect the attention from his looks to his “possessions” and gave a false impression of confidence. Clearly this tactic worked, many women threw themselves at him. Even men said he had “swag” to quote Jadakiss “they could never duplicate your swag” And here is where the battle of swagger and confidence meet head up.

For women who actually claimed he had this so called “swag” you can only logically ask this: If he wasn’t a rich rapper, would you still think he had “swag”? If he wasn’t “Biggie Smalls the rapper” and he approached you at a mall and tried to get with you, would you let him? But in comparison, Heavy D, who like Biggie was a bit on the large side, was able to present himself with “Confidence” this is something that comes natural and without effort. Heavy D had a style to him and a smooth mannerism, and unlike Big never had to mention his money to present this confidence.

Another example of pop cultures perversion of confidence: Lil Wayne the rapper from Cash Money records. A friend of mine on Facebook posted a status one day, and he asked if “swag” could make up for the lack of good looks. As expected many women who responded said, “Yes, look at Lil Wayne. He’s not cute, but he has swag” I challenged the thread by asking the question I stated earlier in the article. I asked if Lil Wayne, was not Lil Wayne rapper, and he approached you at a Starbucks; do you ladies still think he would have “swag”? So no he doesn’t have “swagger” he has money.

Money is the common denominator in breaking down this argument. Without money, the ones who claim to have “swag” lose a big crutch in their argument. See, without money, the false bravado they give to distract you from their shortcomings is exposed. Without money or the false bravado it helps provide, they are forced to reveal themselves for who they are. The fact they are in reality just obnoxious trying to deceive you under the guise of confidence. But it’s false and misleading. The goal is to get you to think they are confident, when in reality they are insecure and lack the basic things to carry themselves with real confidence. Style and Grace!

Confident people have a style and grace to them that often comes off without effort. You cannot buy confidence! People who have this style and grace never have to mention it. Let’s examine a couple of men who have this “confidence”, look at Denzel Washington for example. Every gentleman out there can relate to him, he is the epitome of cool and grace. The average 21 year old watching BET videos may not think much of him, but ask any 30+ woman about Denzel and they will tell you what’s up.

Our President Barack Obama, or B-rock as I call him, is another example, of a gentleman to the highest degree. Educated, well spoken, driven, and loves his wife. And that ideally should be the level of manhood our youth strive for in comparison to what they look up to now. That’s a confident man at its finest. If swag were the appropriate word, he would own it. But unlike Jay-Z, Wayne, or Soulja Boy, Obama would never need to mention he has this aura of confidence. Even if you do refer to his confidence as swag, you would never hear Obama and Denzel needing to confirm to you that they are confident in themselves. That’s because you see it and recognize it, their self-confidence, style, and grace does the talking for them.

So with this I’d like to vote to bury the Swag word like we tried to do with the N word. I don’t know if we will ever be able to fully bury it like the N word. Mostly, because the like the N word, “swag” rolls too easily off our tongues not realizing the true meaning. And like the N word swag has been so ingrained into our mentality with the impression that it’s cool, so it will prove tough to break. But someone has to be the first to say it, so I will go first. RIP Swag, nice knowing you, it was fun while it lasted. The gentlemen’s movement is in full effect and we are reclaiming the true meaning of confidence. But first a moment of silence for the word formerly known as swagger.

What are your thoughts on “Swagger”? Can money buy class or confidence? Leave your thoughts below!

About Nick Campbell

Nick Campbell has written 163 post in this blog.

A modern day gentleman who loves to explore all aspects of relationships and discuss problems this new generation faces in love. Born and raised in the Bay Area, well traveled and cultured. Single Dad, tech connoisseur and news junkie. Drop a line if there is something you'd like discussed!

  • Sbellamyjr

    Agreed, I believe any grown person referring to themselves in any 3rd person or nickname based on what pop cultural word is hot at the time needs to kill themselves too. Whats worse is trying to hear someone describe a persons character or demeanor with a word that doesnt even exist in the dictionary. Maybe thats a testament to their unique style, that only a made up word can describe “them” who knows, but one day we need to have a funeral for a couple words and “swag” is one for sure.