Whatever the haters may say, we at New Times aren't just a gang of mindless party people. We are also pop philosophers. And lately, we've been asking ourselves some pretty deep questions, such as, "What is swag?"
Believe it or not, that little four-letter word is loaded with an inexhaustible multiplicity of meaning. There is positive swag, and there is negative swag. We could also be talking about a person's general state of being or way of life. It's even earning currency as the de facto descriptor for a whole subgenre of hallucinatory, next-level hip-hop pioneered by wacko rappers like Lil Wayne, Lil B, and Odd Future.
Really, though, any attempt to apply a narrow, academic definition to swag is kinda like trying to fit Planet Earth's biggest, most beautiful booty in the palm of your hand. Totally impossible.
Metro Zu and O'Grime
Metro Zu and O'Grime: As part of Crossfade Presents the Local at the Stage. 9 p.m. Thursday, August 25, at the Stage, 170 NE 38th St., Miami; 305-576-9577; thestagemiami.com. Admission is free.
Yet New Times has remained undaunted, deciding to bring our philosophical inquiry to the attention of Dade County's widely acknowledged authorities on the art of swag: Metro Zu and O'Grime.
Crossfade: What is swag? Everyone from Tyler the Creator to Kanye is talking about it. So we need to get a handle on all aspects of this phenomenon.
Freebase: I don't know, nigga. Go Google dat shit.
All right... Fine. What is Metro Zu? A gang? A collective? A crew?
Lofty: Metro Zu is an intergalactic communications team.
Freebase: It's a gang of posh-ass niggaz that travel dimension from this one to that one — like dat, son.
Lofty: Yeah. It's me, RubenSlikk, Freebase, and Mr.B the Poshstronaut. We all make beats. We all rap. We all mack really hard. And we make a lotta shit.
How about O'Grime?
Nikolais Javan: O'Grime is the merging powers of the thoughtful, sincere mind of MC, producer, and director Nikolais Javan, AKA Mr. Suavamente, and the captivating creative visions of MC and video director L. Rey, AKA Puerto Rican Smokey.
L. Rey Reyes: Together, we're chasing the glorious American dream that almost no longer exists — to become the most swagful artisans in the game!
What's the connection between O'Grime and Metro Zu? You're all obviously collaborators — for example, "Udonis Haslem." But how deep does this shit go?
Lofty: A few months ago, I was gettin' spammed by Niko all day and I finally clicked the YouTube shit and it was hard as fuck! Then he hit me up to collab and I was like, "Yuhhh!" and he was like, "Yop!" and then we made "Udonis Haslem." And now we're making a mixtape and mad videos.
Nikolais: At first, we saw Metro Zu as competition. But by working with these guys, we've totally gotten to see the magic that can happen when two powerhouses work side by side. They've got a sincere and confident swag behind a lot of their music, and they're full of that creative luster that calls for everyone to want to be a part of what they're doing.
L. Rey: Yeah. When we decided it was time to join forces, we wrote the song and recorded a video in just one day, "Udonis Haslem (I'm So Handsome)," and it immediately became the local anthem. You can definitely expect a full, crazy O'Grime and Metro Zu album coming soon!
But Metro Zu and O'Grime are bigger than just music, right? It's about video, art, and other stuff. How broad and far-reaching is the scope of this thing?
Nikolais: All the things you just mentioned are mad appropriate. But you're missing so much. We bump swags from all types of cultures — Celia Cruz to the psychedelic stylings of Pretty Lights.
Lofty: Our imagination is as vast as the cosmotwat. Don't call us a band. This is bigger than a movement.
Freebase: It's a spectrum of colors, flavors, sounds, experiences, lives, galaxies, friends, people, species, kush, chicken wangs, and vulgar images.
L. Rey: We are the new face of Miami swag. We represent the youth! Everyone can relate to our swag because it comes directly from the heart! Like blood!
OK. Let's fuck with a scenario: It's Thursday night. You're about to do some smoking, drinking, and getting down. What does this party need so it doesn't suck?
Freebase: I needa see a titty.
L. Rey: The party definitely needs some bass bins, 100 Taco Bell Party Packs, two beer pong tables, a Slip 'n Slide, LiQ for the ladies who can't drink beer 'cause they're watching their calories, and O'Grime on deck. Booty clapping and good trees don't hurt.
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Lofty: I'd honestly hit up Otto von Schirach, a buncha hos, and get a mike and big-ass speakers, and the possibilities are endless!
The last question is the same as the first one: What the fuck is swag?
Nikolais: Swag is cosigning yourself and following your goals.
Lofty: Let's just put it this way... You call it swag. I call it chi.