Tuesday, December 28, 2010

COLUMN: Booty Got Swag

It's a firmly held belief of mine that everyone on Earth should possess at least one skill that he or she can openly brag about without shame or repercussion. In the grand scheme of life, I'm kind of a weenie. I'm horribly out of shape, often completely bereft of common sense, and my social skills are iffy at best.

But there's one thing in life that I'm proud to be really, really, mind-bogglingly good at: DJing. Whether you're at a wedding or a party, a rave or a nightclub -- if I'm in the DJ booth, you're going to have fun.

Cocky? You betcha, but I've earned it through a LOT of practice. I've been moonlighting as a club DJ for almost every weekend since 1986, so if I wasn't any good by now, there'd be a problem. DJing parties and events fuels me. There is NO greater rush than mixing into JUST the right song at JUST the right moment to send the dancefloor into overdrive. I can't dance, I can't play any instruments, and I certainly can't sing. But for those fleeting moments when I'm in the DJ booth and the soundtrack to the evening lies in my hands, I'm a rock and roll star.

At least, I thought I was -- until some teenagers figured out a way to deflate my ego.

About two months ago, I worked for the final time at the Rock Island District nightclub that I've called home for the past ten years. Since then, I've been freelancing at various clubs around the Quad Cities. While I miss my old haunt, the prospect of change is kind of exciting. When you mix music for the same crowd night after night week after week, you run the risk of putting yourself on DJ autopilot. Instead, I recently accepted one of the most challenging gigs in town. For the past 5 weekends, I've been DJing the final run of the fall season at Energy, the under-21 teen dance club in Davenport.

In the dog-eat-dog, take-no-prisoners world of semi-professional DJing, excelling at a teen club is like reaching the summit of Everest. When you're at a college bar, the music is often the last thing on people's minds. Adult beverages are flowing and a majority of patrons are a bit too preoccupied by the mating rituals of the Drunken Human to fully appreciate the way you just deftly mixed "Sexyback" into "Billie Jean." But when you're in high school, your life revolves around pop culture. You're dead sober, judgemental as heck, and you know every nuance to every song on the Top 40 chart, even the ones you hate. Kids pay ATTENTION, and kids immediately know the difference between a good DJ and a sucky one. When you mix for teenagers, you'd better bring your A-game.

I thought I was ready. I didn't prepare a single thing. I showed up with my usual gear, my usual know-how, and my usual ego. As the doors opened, I hit a few of my better mixes to set the tone for the evening, while the kids lined up at the booth to write requests down. After about ten minutes, I had a full sheet so I grabbed it to take a look. That's when my ego got up and took the first cab home.

I stood there, staring dumbfounded, at a list of about 20 songs -- of which I knew precisely... one. Could it be that your faithful columnist, your pop culture hero, your hip and happening music nerd, was (gasp) UNCOOL?? Clearly I had some homework to do.

Whew. It turned out that most of the songs I didn't know were all non-Top-40 album tracks by a rapper named Soulja Boy Tell 'Em. And now I understood why I didn't know them. Soulja Boy makes juvenile and borderline risque songs that appeal to few except hormonal 16-year-olds who've yet to learn the difference between good and bad music. Like Justin Bieber, if Justin Bieber only rapped about butts.

Don't believe me? Half of the requests were for a gem of his called "Booty Got Swag." Say what? Whose booty got what? When I was a kid, swag meant free stuff, as in "I went to this job fair and got all this sweet swag." But then again, once upon a time, "booty" meant pirate treasure or free stuff as well. "Free stuff got free stuff?" Surely not. That's when I did the uncoolest thing of my life and went to the online Urban Dictionary. And "swag" now means "confidence, style, and demeanor." In fact, with help from the Urban Dictionary, this gem of a song reaches emotional depth of Shakespearean levels:

"Her booty got swag, her booty got swag, her booty got swag"
- Her buttocks have confidence, her buttocks have style, and her buttocks have demeanor.

"Now dip it down then roll with it"
- Which is why they should move about promptly.

"Her booty so big I can hang my chain from it"
- Her buttocks could theoretically be adorned with my necklace.

"I'm good if u wit it I'm wit it"
- How are you? I am fine.

"Souljaboytellem first verse let's get it"
- My name is Soulja Boy Tell Em. I will now rap about our activities.

"She got a donk part two was happenin"
- This fine tune is a sequel to my past song of equal intelligence, "She Got A Donk."

"New money and I got it from rappin"
- I routinely receive payment to discuss your buttocks.

"100 flips wrapped up in plastic"
- I possess a great amount of illegal drugs. Or possibly 100 Filipinos whom I speak of derogatively and cover in plastic.

"Shake it up and down can I grab it"
- I now wish to grope you. Is that acceptable?

"Mic check Gucci bandana, girl I see you in dem sandals"
- My microphone is functioning. I have expensive headgear. You have shoes. I see them.

"Might be too much to handle, Soulja Boy TV that's my channel."
- You are an intense dance partner. I have a streaming internet television station.

"Get it get it get it get it get it get it get it get it get it get it"
- Umm... Get it.

"Twerk twerk twerk twerk twerk twerk"
- I can make silly noises. I am done rapping now.

Clearly, the "American Pie" of our time. The good news is that I'm not uncool. I've just got grown-up taste in dance music. And maybe it's time to head back to employment in a grown-up nightclub. Anyone hiring?

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