The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Swag On Deck

There are some tracks in the American songbook that people recognize instantly. These songs are considered classics, music that millions upon millions of people know and enjoy.  

Perhaps The Beatles’ cover of “Twist and Shout” could fall under this category. Maybe even a contemporary jam such as Outkast’s “Hey Ya,” which  I’m sure even my grandmother could recognize within the first few seconds.  Well,  “Teach Me How to Dougie” is about to be added to that list.

With its hypnotic beat and catchy chorus, the  track behind the Dougie dance by the Cali Swag District has become an epidemic. From the group’s homebase in Inglewood, California to the east coast, the song has been blasted everywhere from NBA arenas and attempted by the likes of esteemed anchors such as CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and ABC’s Barbara Walters alongside Justin Bieber.  

“It was pretty funny,” said the group’s lead member C-Smoove when asked what he thought of the video that circulated on YouTube of Walters attempting to do the Dougie.

“It just goes to show how big this whole thing has gotten.”

Cali Swag District is part of an ever growing contingent of new artists and groups in hip-hop that rely heavily on the chorus and the beat as the verse takes the backseat. Hip-hop purists disregard it, parents try to it ignore it and the kids love it.

“The state of the game has changed a lot,” said C-Smoove. “Obviously the Internet has changed things and it’s a lot harder to get a hard copy of your album sold.  But we’re trying to show everyone that we’re for real.”  

“Dougie” has held a spot in the Top 10 on the Billboard R&B and Rap singles charts last year, but most music skeptics wonder if the District’s swag is just a fad.

“We are more than just a group with a dance song,” said C-Smoove. “We kind of want this whole dougie-thing to fade away.” Cali Swag knows that haters are inevitably going to hate, but the last thing they want to be seen as is a gimmick.  

The group was formed by former Death Row Records recording artist Big Wy in Inglewood.  

“Big Wy was really the guy that brought everything together he really pushed us,” recalls C-Smoove. “We were all friends throughout middle school and high school  but once we got the group together, we put all of our energy into it.”  

As any other person who has profiled Cali Swag District would, I asked, “Where did the idea of “the Dougie” come from?  According to C-Smoove, the dance actually stemmed from another dance called the C-Town Boogie which was based in Dallas. Eventually, the group “re-birthed” the dance and brought it back to the west coast, thus spawning a cultural phenomenon.

“Dougie” and the Michael Jackson-sampled single “Where You Are” will both be featured on their upcoming debut effort The Kickback which is set to be released Feb. 15.  

“People should get ready to be shocked,” said C-Smoove. “We feel that we’re underrated by a lot of people and we feel that we have something to prove. “There’s a lot of heat on this album.”

It will be interesting to see what happens with Cali Swag District. They could fall in the pantheon of one-hit-wonder hip-hop artists such as Sir Mix-A-Lot and MC Hammer or they could develop as artists and become the next big thing.  They certainly have talent and personnel to do so at this stage of their game. It is simply about executing and keeping their momentum.  

If things don’t turn out well for the group, their name and their signature song has already been cemented in pop music as the  biggest dance craze sing the “Macarena.” And rest assured, there will always be a kid who wants to be taught how to Dougie.



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