I don’t remember what happened back in 2009 to cause its explosion, but there must have been something that made “swag” the go-to word for being a cool guy. It had existed before that — remember, it was 2007 that Gilbert Arenas’ “swag was phenomenal” — but that’s when things really took off from a swag perspective. That’s the year “Turn My Swag On” was released, but I don’t really want to credit Soulja Boy for this. Sorry, but I refuse to live in that kind of a world.
Nonetheless, for a few years now, we’ve lived in a swag-obsessed world, thanks to the likes of Lil B, Odd Future and almost every other under-30 rapper who has released a song in the past three years. It’s a swagademic and only one man has the cure. That man is Iman Shumpert. From the New York Post:
Q: Define “swag” for me.
A: Oh, I’m off swag. I say “sway” now. I kept saying swag, swag. Instead of saying bye on the phone I would say swag. I was saying it all the time and being funny, and then like I wasn’t even trying to be funny anymore and I couldn’t stop saying it. Then I changed s-w-a-g to s-c-h-w-a-g just so I could sorta have my own thing. But then it was just so many people saying it that I just got so sick of hearing it. … Kanye says it’s cray instead of crazy in one of his songs, so I said, “My swag is cray, so I’m gonna call it sway.” So now I sway. You don’t walk in the room swagging, I walk in swaying.
Q: Define sway on the court.
A: The way I see it, if you put music behind while I’m playing, it’s gonna look good. That’s how I would define a swagger. If you put music behind somebody that’s like passionate … real confident … they got a killer instinct … they play with an attitude … if you put music behind it, it looks good. Some guys play so straight, and that may be their thing, like a lot of guys are good playing like that. I can’t play like that. I have to flair out, I have to yell, I gotta scream, I gotta talk trash — that’s how I get myself going.
OK, so it is pretty obvious that Iman Shumpert isn’t aware that a) “sway” is already a word and b) “swaying” is already a way that you can walk. That, in and of itself, makes these quotes outstanding. Unless Iman Shumpert is trying to say that he is constantly rocking back and forth and that he walks in a way to maximize his sexiness, it is very funny that he now defines “sway” as crazy swag.
Leaving that on the side, I think we can all agree that it’s time for swag to die and can therefore celebrate Iman Shumpert for being courageous enough to try to kill it. Sure, he’s just spun it off in to his own swag derivative, but that’s better than hearing swag all the time. I can’t see “sway” getting its own deodorant or becoming a trending topic any time soon, but this may be the first blow that sparks a revolution. It’s just like that Apple commercial, only instead of personal computers, we’re just getting rid of an annoying word.