Swag Think Walking throughout any highschool today, you can see many different types of students. There are the preps, the emos or goths, the geeks, the popular kids, the burnouts, the jocks, the rich kids, and the wannabe thugs. There is a new group though. They can be identified by bright, vibrant clothing, a mismatched color scheme, tight pants, and a hat that barely sits on their head. These are the kids who have “swag”.
The term “swag” has only become popular in the past five or so years. It has worked its way from being unknown, to holding a place in many teenagers’ vocabulary, largely due to the music industry. “Swag” is most commonly thought to be a shortened version of the word “swagger”. The term “swag”, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary could have in fact been used in the 1520s to mean “to move heavily or unsteadily.” It is also thought to have roots in the term swag used in 1593 to mean controlling influence.
Prior definitions included loot or booty, and it may have even come from the word swing which came from “sway” around the 1300s meaning to go, glide, or move. Although all of these are possibilities, the most common and probable origin of this term can be attributed to the term “swagger”, which is a nautical term defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as the following: 1) to conduct oneself in an arrogant or superciliously pompous manner; especially: to walk with an air of overbearing self-confidence. 2) to boast or brag.
The music industry has played a large role in the introduction of the term swag and its rise to fame. The first time we hear the modern term “swag” is in rapper Jay-Z’s song “All I need” which was released on his sixth studio album The Blue Print on September 11th, 2001. After the initial introduction of this term by Jay-Z, rappers and artists have frequently used it in arrogant or cocky songs in which they talk themselves up. Rapper DMX was also found using the word “swag” in his song “We In Here”, but this song was not in the spotlight of the U.S. Billboard Top 100 until artist T.I.’s song “Swagga Like Us” began to climb the charts in 2008. Ironically, Jay-Z was featured on this track. Other songs that used this term include rapper Pharrell’s 2006 bonus track “Swagger International”, Soulja Boy’s 2010 single “Pretty Boy Swag”, and Lil B’s 2010 song “Wonton Soup”. It soon became a goal for rappers and artists to incorporate the term swag into their songs. Fans of rap and hip-hop became crazed with this term and the confidence and odd style associated with this term.
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