Swag Rap VS. Conscious Rap

    Conscious Rap – noun:
    a genre of hip-hop that focuses on uplifting and educating the community. knowledge comes through self-discovery and it is through this genre of music that that aesthetic is imparted on the listener.

    Swag Rap – noun:
    the genre of hip-hop music that is fueling the industry today. this genre may lack lyrically; however, the moving force behind its popularity is the swag or personality of that said rapper.

Growing up in one of the toughest parts of DC wasn’t as rough as it may seem. We all knew someone who had been killed from gun violence, we all saw what the different drugs looked like, and we all did some dumb (hood) stuff back in the day. There wasn’t anything unsafe about hanging on the corner with your friends. The streets were a game, and the gangsta music I grew up listening to were hints and cheat-codes on how to get to the next level.

While in college, I flirted with the idea of not only bettering myself and educating myself, but also the community as a whole. What appealed to me was conscious rap. I substituted Jay-Z for Nas. I wanted to know how could I prescribe a message that could better the community. I started listening to Wale, since he was from DC and all (Maryland depending on where one lives in the area).

However, all that conscious rap stuff has DIED. Finit. No more!

The debate used to be about dance songs and club songs in hip-hop, but I’ll decide to take that a step further and make a claim for Swag Rap as the rap of 2011. I don’t want to be educated about my plight. I know enough. I don’t want to be told what I should do to make black people look good through music. BET (Black Entertainment Television) does enough to ruin our image already.

But with all jokes aside, Swag Rap is in full-effect this year.

Arguably the ultimate swag rapper, Jay-Z has catipulted rap to another level. He’s taken rap so far to benefit his career that his raps aren’t relevant to majority of his audience. He has reached a level of swag maximus. He swags too much on a song. He approves million dollar deals through thin air, way before the invention of the blue-tooth. His life is a living postcard. He can board a plane to get away from rainy weather. He can leap hoes in a single bound. PLUS, he got the baddest chick in the game wearing his chain. #Hmph! That type of stuff.

I am pro-swag rap because it shows how far we can go and how far we have come as a culture. Swag Rap as a genre also host some of the most prolific names in hip-hop today. You ask a 15 year old kid today the names of Common, Mos Def, KRS-One, the Roots, and even sadly Nas, and they'll stare at you with a blank face.

Mention names like Jay-Z, Weezy F. Baby (Lil Wayne), Gucci Mane, Lil B, and Drake and they'll go crazy with excitement. Besides, the only difference between J. Cole and Drake is that of swag and message. J. Cole is a conscious rapper and I believe, others like myself tune him out. Don't get me wrong, I love Jermaine Cole, but if he earned an A in the swag department, he would be well on his way to becoming a platinum selling artist.

Don't just take my word for it either. People in the world don't like those who don't have swag. Take Twitter for instance, there you can follow the mind of your favorite rapper. If they are wack (swack = no swag) then you can always hit the unfollow button and decide not to listen to any of their music as I have done.

But I've been through too much. I don't want to hear about the same ole same ole, century old shit about the plight of the black man. I want to hear about how they're living. Don't judge me for this, but:

When it comes to rappers like Wiz Khalifa, I know he smokes the dopest dopes. I want to hear about the names of those trees. They aren't your everyday treat, ya know? I wanna hear about the many different ways he could be creeping with my girlfriend. I want to hear about living the life. Sleep, wake up, bake up, cake up, perform at shows and do it in every city.

When it comes to Lil B, as sad as it is to admit this: I want to hear about the 30,000 “bitches” (his language not mine) that he’s been with. The pretty boys never had a say in rap. I think it’s funny how loyal his fans are. They don’t care about their significant others and can be found saying, “Based God can have all my bitches.” In a world where some women are licentious, I don’t mind a few whoops and swags and i got bitches.

Curre$y is a broke man’s Jay-Z. What types of Old school Chevy’s do you drive? I want to know! He swags and has your lady in the palm of his hands. Am I wrong for singing along?

Swag rap is taking over the culture of rap. Swag is the Lazarus to hip-hop. It isn’t dead anymore.

Kanye West blurs the line between swag rap and conscious rap. He’s not the only rapper to be succesful at that either. Lupe Fiasco, doesn’t need an iPhone or Blackberry to swag out a freestyle. That’s why he’s so accepted by any age of hip-hopper. He can be confusing as hell with his Marxist/Communist like rhymes, but he can also swag it out the Chicago way with his flow as well.

The late & great 2Pac is also a gamechanger blurring the line between swag rap and conscious rap.

Before I end this, I must say I love swag rap. It gives me something to look forward to. If you have the latest and greatest, I’m not going to hate, I’ll appreciate and live vicariously through the music.

#BigUps to the rappers who never turn their swag off. You’re keeping hip-hop alive.

#SWAG #WHOOP #SWAG *throws in cliche* #SWAG.

Talib Kweli
Mos Def
J. Cole
The Roots

Swag Rappers:
Lil B
Wiz Khalifa
Big Sean