Cali Swag District Bring the Party Back to Inglewood
Inglewood's latest musical export is Cali Swag District, a group of teenagers who are pushing their youthful and carefree jams, which bear no similarities to the gangsta rap their neighborhood has been historically associated with. Rappers C-Smoove, Yung, JayAre and dancer M-Bone, assure us that the West Coast has seen a new day and that day is now, "Everybody just wants to party and have fun." The group's debut dance-track 'Teach Me How To Dougie' has already become a YouTube phenomenon with over 1.5 million hits, but the young performers still have plans to take the song's success to another level. First order of business: Recruit Soulja Boy -- fellow YouTube phenomenon and success story -- to hop on the song's remix and seal the deal.
The BoomBox: 'Teach Me How To Dougie' is kind of a big deal on YouTube. Where did the idea for the song come from?
Smoove: One of our friends from Inglewood went to Texas Southern University and he came back on a break and mentioned that the dance was hot out there. He knew how to do it, and he was like, 'ya'll should make a song about this.' So, he came up with the concept and we just went into the studio and made it happen. That's pretty much when we put the stamp on the fact that we were a group.
The BoomBox: Did you realize that the song was going to be an instant hit?
Smoove: Honestly, it was something we did for fun. We didn't expect it to do what it did, but once we saw the reaction from people who came into the studio and heard the song, we felt like it would be the one and we started pushing it hard. This is the first song we really recorded as a group.
The BoomBox: Did everyone in Inglewood pick up the dance moves quickly?
Yung: Everybody down South is good at the dance, because it came from there – the "B-Town Boogie." But in Inglewood, it came kinda late, so the only person I know that's just gotten real good at it is M-Bone. Everybody else is doing it pretty good; we've got our own flavor.
The BoomBox: 'Teach Me How To Dougie' was also the first video you filmed as a group. How was that?
Smoove: We enjoyed it because everybody came through. It was like our whole city came, so we pretty much knew everybody and if we didn't, we got to meet them. It was all around fun, because we didn't expect that many people to turn out, even though that's what we were looking for. We hoped for the best, but ... it turned out better than we expected. It was just a good look.
The BoomBox: On Twitter, you're currently pushing to have Soulja Boy jump on the remix. Any luck so far?
Smoove: We've seen our fans re-tweeting it, they're trying to get us to make it happen, but we'll see. It should happen though ... more than likely it will.
The BoomBox: Why do you want Soulja Boy on the track?
Smoove: Just so it could have that mainstream stamp. Soulja Boy is a major artist right now, and he brings a lot of people in. He has a lot of fans, so if we get him on that song, it'd be a look good for us, and him at the same time,
Yung: Yeah, it's his region too.
The BoomBox: If Soulja Boy is reading this interview, can you tell him exactly why he needs to jump on the remix for this song?
Yung: Well, [Soulja Boy] you need to jump on this song because Jermaine Dupri did it and everybody else is saying that it'd be a good look if you was on the song. I think it'd be a good look, the bros thing it'd be a good look, so Soulja Boy if you reading this, help your boys out, hop on the song, throw some bars down. You made a dance song, you started on the YouTube thing, we doing the same thing, so show some love man.
The BoomBox: What did Jermaine Dupri do with the song?
Smoove: Jermaine Dupri did an unofficial remix. He just hopped on the song because he liked it. He put a verse in front of the song and they've been playing it in Cali on the radio for the past few days.
Some of Cali's gangsta rap has taken a backseat to the light and fun music that you guys are making. Is everyone on the West Coast just trying to have a good ol' time these days?
Smoove: That's pretty much what it is. We don't focus on the hardcore gangsta rap because that's not what it is out in Cali anymore. It's not about hustling and selling drugs because that eventually faded out. When they were rapping about that, that's what was happening, but that's not what's happening now. It's not as popular as it was.
Yung: Everybody just wants to party!
Smoove: Everybody just wants to party and have fun, so that's what we decided to make our first single about. We have other songs you can dance to -- they're not all about one specific dance -- but it's not what it used to be in L.A. anymore. It's there, but it's not talked about as much because we don't appreciate it in any way, shape, or form. We've lost a lot of friends to the street life and that's not what we want to talk about because it's not a good thing. It's bad. We don't want to go in that direction, so we just have fun with our music.
The BoomBox: Where did you guys come up with the name Cali Swag District?
Smoove: The name of the group actually came from our visionary Big Wy. He had the name of the group before he had the faces for it. So once he saw us together and saw what we do, he put us in a group and gave us that name. Now it means something to us – California is where we're from obviously, Swag – we all have our own individual swag and the District is our city; Inglewood, California.
Yung: We grew up in the same neighborhood, went to the same high school, junior high and basically we roll with each other, so we all ended up in the same place at the same time and Big Wy put us together, like Smoove said.
The BoomBox: Does your style of dance and music have any relation to Cali's Jerk movement?
Smoove: We're doing our own thing; we don't really associate ourselves with the Jerk movement. Shout out to the New Boyz and everybody doing it, but it's not our thing Coming up, we didn't really fall into the character of the boys in the skinny jeans and all that. We have more of a street aspect, it's just us... it's just different. We try to be different as much as we can.
The BoomBox: Is fashion a big part of your movement?
Smoove: It is our movement. That's what we do; we get fly in our own way. We move away from the skinny jeans and all that, but whatever we feel is fly, we do it. We rock pea coats and Member's Only jackets and our jeans fit – they won't be skinny, but they'll be fitted, like straight legged. Levi's and Rock and Republic are pretty much a big thing. We own all pairs of Levi's and we've got a lot of Rock and Republic. We just do us, but we make it super fly.
The BoomBox: How does partying and having fun translate into your live performances?
Smoove: When we go on stage, we want to give a show that we would like to see. We go up there with as much energy as possible, we try to have as much fun as possible and get the crowd involved. Who likes to see a boring show with rappers just standing up there and rapping the whole time? Depending on the rapper you are, you can do it, but that's not what we want to do when we get to the stage because we want to have fun and make everybody dance and move around. We've been performing together for about eight or nine months now, so we pretty much gave it down packed. We have a lot of fun, we bring lots of energy and we make everybody appreciate the fact that they came out to see a Cali Swag show.
The BoomBox: When can we expect the album? And what can we expect to hear?
Smoove: You can expect it around September. We'll be on our promo run for the next month and a half. We have our club bangers; we have music that you could just chill and listen to, just roll down the street with your top down -- lots of different types of music. We have the up tempo songs, but we do have different styles of music because we don't wanna just focus in on one dance and try to make a whole CD about it. We just think diversity.
The BoomBox: Besides Soulja Boy, who else would you guys like to work with?
Yung: We're gonna work with E-40, we're real big fans of E-40. He does his thing in his own unique way and that's somebody that we'd really look forward to working with.