Thursday, April 9, 2015

swagger jacker

Cardrossmaniac 2 with thoughts on "revival spiral" (Lauren Cochrane's coinage), the Revival of Everything, and a term new to me, "swagger jacker":

Re. "The Revival Of Everything", he says: "I thought this revival started somewhere in the mid to late 90s. The interweb was taking off. The Beastie Boys were making eclectic records likeill Communication that had funk, soundtrack, rock, jazz, rap, latin, reggae, world, punk and many other vibes. Grande Royale, The Beasties own magazine was getting into all sorts of things that seemed to not make sense at the time. All of a sudden in the streets it seemed like anything from any era was up for grabs and hey why not mix and match eras too in fashion, music, furniture etc. This is where today's atemporality was forming."

I think it's something that people often feel about their era - I felt like that a bit in the mid to late 80s. And I'm finding that similar feelings of malaise, directionlessness and omnidirectional nostalgia surfaced in the middle Seventies.  It's a recurrence, rather than how it feels when you're in it, which is that the time you're living through is uniquely going to the retro dogs...  Then there's another surge phase and retro-eclecticism and concurrent multiple revivalisms can be banished to the margins again.

Re: "Swagger Jacker", he notes that it's a term for "rappers who mimic other rappers unique style, flow and, well, their entire vibe really. It appears that in 2006 Cam'ron had a tune called 'Swagger Jacker'that was a comprehensive dis of Jay Z. Cam'ron juxtaposes Jay Z's lyrics and flow against the swagger of Biggie, Snoop & Slick Rick to make the point that Z ain't too original."

Back in the day they used to call that biting - biting someone's style.


  1. Re: the mid '90s as starting point - Ted Polhemus's book 'Streetstyle', which came out in 1994, ended it's chronological survey of youth fashions with what he called "The Supermarket of Style", and it was exactly what we're talking about here: picking and choosing from every era, everything being up for grabs and mixable. And I guess it must have been around for a year or two before that for it to make it into the book, complete with illustrative photos.

    It definitely comes across as a break from the established order, in the book anyway: all of the style groups listed previously, even if they had borrowed from the past or didn't look too different to other groups, were distinct tribes. They had their own *thing* (usually music) which stood in oppostition to someone else's thing.

    I suppose at the time it would have been, to a fashion historian/groupie, a bit like the early days of free music on the web - all of a sudden everything is there and it costs nowt. The cost in this case being the commitment to a scene / lifestyle etc that would have come with being a mod or whatever.

  2. That's interesting about the Polhemus book - is it worth getting?

    My sense though is that this idea - that we've reached a retro-electic point where the whole of history if rife for rifling through and pilfering - is something that recurs.

    So for instance Jon Savage wrote "The Age of Plunder" in The Face in the early Eighties.

    And I think Peter York made similar noises about the historicisation and archivalism of recent youth culture in some of the 1970s pieces that went into his great collection Style Wars.

    My sense is that, in any age where there are archives to draw on, there is a structural possibility of a lapse into retro-eclecticism. The culture will cycle between phases of entropic backwards-looking disparateness and phases of renewed focus on the now and the forward-moving, in which the past largely serves as something to reject or push "out of view". The eclectic phases are centrifugal; the now/future focused phases are centripetal.

    I reckon you would be quite likely find evidence of this tension in the 19th Century, albeit probably only among an wealthy, highly educated class - i.e. people who had access to archives, in the form of libraries or private collections. This musty, archival, antiquarian tendency is what Nietzche has in his sights when writing "On the Use and Abuse of History for Life" (1874). His ferocity comes because he is fighting his own tendencies as much as anything.

  3. Yes, it's the curse of knowledge, of education, even. Those who DO remember the past are doomed to repeat it. Especially so in a culture that puts a high value on *knowing*, as I think ours does.

    I do think the Polhemus book is worth getting, but I'll scan a few pages in and link to 'em so you can judge for yourself. It's not an exhaustive or particularly deep study, and the things he chooses to focus on betray his own biases / level of knowledge. For instance, there's a section on "Pervs", which is clearly there because that's what Polhemus is into; and indie, grunge and Riot Grrrl are glommed together into one section. Polhemus seems to be somewhere between an insider and a style mag type. BUT it's mostly respectful and *interested* in the subject, and there are loads of great photos. I checked the bit on Supermarket of Style and - yeah, I'll definitely scan that bit in sometime this weekend.

  4. No probs! Here you go:

    The text is readable if you RIGHT click on the image, select 'View Image' and click on it again to view full size. You'll have to use the browser back arrow to go back to the list. Let me know if you have any problems, I can email if necc.

    The Supermarket of Style section is the last 5 scans. Very relevant to Retromania, as you'll see. But there's a lot about revivals, postmodernism etc throughout the book.

  5. looks like you have to invite me to the blog though for me to access its contents...

  6. D'oh! Sorry about that. I'd forgotten that the blog is set as private. Try again, please - I've changed it to public.