Friday, August 8, 2008

Political Swagger By Carl West

Hip hop has been responsible for dozens of hip terms and street lingo, which several of hip hop's vernaculars have been included in Webster's Dictionary and many of those words end up being buzz words in many corporate commercials.

One term that has taken on a life of its own is 'swagger'. This is the coolest phrase in the hip hop book of words, as its definition has limited meaning and only a few can claim to possess 'SWAGGER'.

There's a new web site launching in Washington D.C. during the Democratic Convention on August 27th. is the brain child of Tonja Styles, the former organizer for Russell Simmons Hip Hop Summits and PR person for Snoop and several other hip hop artist and organizations.

The main question within hip hop is who has it and who doesn't?

I will go on to define this word and highlight who was born with swagger or who has earned the swag over the years and how they've come to own it in a two part series.

Most people are familiar with rap legend, Jay Z; well today his swagger is off the charts. But what's amazing is he did not always have the swag he possesses now. When Jay Z first hit the rap scene he was a skinny kid from the Marcy Projects in East New York, he performed with a group whose style and skills where limited to baggy pants and oversized sweat shirts and skull caps.

Today, Jay Z is worth 500 million dollars and his swagger is admired and emulated by hundreds of up and coming emcees in pop culture. See, swagger is just another name for confidence or arrogance.

When you can claim to be the greatest rapper alive, married to one of the baddest women in the biz, a suite in the Trump Tower, and your translucent Mercedes Maybac valet parked, these elements bring a certain kind of confidence or swagger.

The man of the year with the most jimmy swagger is none other than the next president of the United States. Barack Obama's swagger is also off the measuring charts. Here was a skinny kid from Hawaii with a mixed family tree, who propelled himself to the top of his class at Harvard; followed by employment with a prestigious law firm, all while working in the hood.

His ambition led him to challenge a beloved local Congressman, but in his embarrassing defeat, he regrouped and became a U.S. Senator in his next political battle.

That took swagger and arrogance to position himself with the big boys and come out a winner. But that wasn't big enough, Barack decided to test his swag and announce his candidate for presidency, and is now poised to paint the white house 'black'.

But his enormous swagger means nothing without the one person who makes his swag relevant. Barack's loyal, smart, and committed wife, Michelle Obama, and his beautifully well raised little girls make his swagger real and one to emulate. will host a seminar at the DNC and announce their Political Swagger person of the year. Russell Simmons will be the key note speaker as he announces his endorsement of the new political website, which is designed to encourage youth culture to get involved in the process. Rappers Nas, Snoop Dogg, and David Banner including myself will contribute to this progressive content vehicle.

The site will educate and enlighten the millions of young people to get active, volunteer and position themselves for the future of what will be a defining moment in our history in 2008. Peace, one love and I'm Carl West.

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