Has Toyota finally done what Old Spice couldn’t and killed “Swagger” for good?
Swag*ger: verb, :To walk or conduct oneself with an insolent or arrogant air; strut.
We are gathered here today to say good-bye to a friend that gave us so much in such a short amount of time…Swagger.
Like so many other words hip-hop took a verb and made it a noun, but it worked for us.
Swagger was everybody’s friend. He gave us the means to describe the intangible. Anyone could say they had style but it meant something else to say you had “Swagger.” Swagger wasn’t linked to your paycheck. You could be dressed like a hobo and have undeniable “swagger.” When you watched the President walk up to the podium you didn’t say he looked “cool.” You said “look at his swagger!”
No one can pinpoint exactly when Swagger became part of the hip-hop lexicon but the closest estimates place it to 2003’s “PSA” by Jay-Z when he bragged,
“Check out my swag’ yo, I walk like a ballplayer
No matter where you go, you are what you are player”
Urban legend has it that Hov overheard Keith Murray’s “I Got My Swagger Back” in the Def Jam offices from the critically panned He’s Keith Murray and “borrowed” the phrase. No one can prove this but you know once Jay-Z puts his hands on something, it’s his.
Before long Swagger was bumping other words clear out the box. “Biting” became known as “swagger jacking.” Even a cornball like Aaron Carter cut a song called “Swagged Up” for crying out loud. But this didn’t do Swagger in. He was too strong.
Swagger reached his peak popularity in 2008 when T.I. Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lil Wayne jacked M.I.A’s “Paper Planes” for “Swagga Like Us.” He wore his best suit to The Grammys when it was nominated for Best Rap Song and smiled like Uncle Ruckus at Sarah Palin’s pool party when it won for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. Swagger’s parents “Steez” and “Flava” were surely proud.
But in that same year corporate suits caught wind of Swagger’s popularity and like his cousins “Fresh” and “Hype” he was kidnapped and sacrificed to the gods of product placement. They even recruited an icon like LL Cool J to help in his demise. Old Spice now had “Swagger.”
LL Cool J Commercial for “Swagger” From Old Spice (2008)
It was pretty much over for him after this. Not only did the dude on a horse and Terry Crews render these ads irrelevant, but in March of this year teenaged Pop Star Justin Beiber proudly declared that he had a “Swagger Coach.” You could almost hear the moans of pain as Swagger was being ferried by Charon across the river of slang hell to meet with “Jiggy” and “Audi 5000.”
But then I saw that Akio Toyoda, in a desperate bid to make people forget about his cars brake problems, dug up Swagger’s body and threw him in the back of a minivan. The Swagger Wagon to be exact.
The Swagger Wagon… The mother-fatherin SWAGGER WAGON???
Truth be told, the rhymes on this are better than half of the crap on the radio and I think it’s a rather funny parody of rap music. If anyone is offended they only have Gucci, O.J. Da Juiceman and Plies to blame. If this were Young Jeezy over this beat talking about the Dodge Magnum everyone would love it.
But that’s not my beef. It’s that Swagger was dragged down the street one last time for us to laugh at him. Now that he’s been totally embarrassed again, can we finally let this word rest in peace?