NEXT JENERATION NOW:
BY TAI PERKINS
PHOTOS BY: MARIN HAMATAJ
“I'm definitely not stopping. This is my calling. This is what I was called to do.”
The new generation of entertainment is taking the world by storm. It is now possible to become a world renown star, without leaving your house. Yvng Swag proves that he's more than just a social media influencer. From his energy, his unique style, his swag and his work ethic, Swag, was already destined for greatness. Coming from the small town of Kent County, Maryland, without a mall or even a Walmart in site, Swag's larger-than-life personality gained the attention of millions of social media users all over the world. All before he reached the age of 16. Now, at 19 Swag has successfully gained the attention of the entertainment industries heavy hitters, including Nick Cannon.
Generating over 10 millions views on YouTube, and 1.5 million followers on Instagram, Swag is a triple threat. He keeps his fans entertained by his signature dance moves, his comedy, as well as his music. He's also very interactive with his fans VIA social media.
Without words, Swag demands attention once he enters a room.
Yvng Swag: Well, my name is Yvng Swag- Y.V.N.G actually stands for 'young, valuable n. gifted.' The swag is in my name because I have my own unique swag. I dance, I make music, I act and I'm on 'Wild'n Out' for my personality. It's fun.
Next Jeneration: So, when did you know you wanted to be an entertainer or in entertainment?
Yvng Swag: 15, at age 15 is when I really knew. It's crazy, I remember when I got that phone call from my friends Dwayne and Nate. They saw something in me that I didn't see in myself. I always knew that I could dance but I didn't have the confidence in myself. They told me 'If you really start making videos, and start posting them, you can get famous.' I was like 'you really believe that?' They replied, 'Yeah! You really can dance. You remind me of like, Usher or Chris Brown.' I started looking into to it, and I was like 'i'm going to actually give this a shot. It doesn't hurt to try.'
Next Jeneration: When did you start gaining attention from it? I know you have 1.5 million followers, congratulations on that. When did you start gaining social media attention?
Yvng Swag: To be honest, it seemed like it took a while but then it happened so quick. I would say within the four months is when I started gaining attention.
Next Jeneration: So, age 15 and 4 months after that?
Yvng Swag: Yes. Well I was 15 turning 16. Two months later I turned 16, so it was more 16-ish.
Next Jeneration: Now you're 19. You've been at this for a while. When did you know that this is something you wanted to do for a living?
Yvng Swag: Once I really started to see it actually working, When I had around 20,000 followers on Vine, I wasn't generating no money. I kept hearing that you can make money from posting videos on Vine. I was like 'man I've been doing this for a minute, and I gained 20k followers, this is something but I'm not really feeling it.' I gave up for like a week. For a week I was like, 'you know what? I ain't gone post anymore.' Something hit me. I thought of an idea- it was my first video that went viral. It hit WorldStar and it hit 4 million views. I danced to a gospel song, and I did hip-hop dance moves. I did the nae-nae, the whip, and from that video- I gained about 60,000 more followers and I gained 40,000 on Instagram. I'm like 'yeah, okay. I'm definitely not stopping. This is my calling, this is what I'm called to do."
Aside from dancing, and going viral on social media, Swag is a frequent cast member of the MTV show Wild N' Out. There is where he proves to his fans that he is a triple threat- combining comedy, dancing and music.
Next Jeneration: How did you get the attention of someone like Nick Cannon?
Yvng Swag: Posting videos. I've been dancing for a minute, making a whole bunch of dance videos and just posting them online. Nick saw that, and he makes music. So, he reached out and wanted me to dance to one of his songs. I actually went beyond and started doing it on my own, dancing to other songs that he didn't ask me to dance to. Just building that relationship with him.
Next Jeneration: How is your experience on Wild'N Out? Super crazy?
Is it stuff we don't know from watching
Yvng Swag: [Laughs] Wild'N Out is- the
crazy thing is in high school I was
"Wild'N Out." We literally had rap battles in
lunch. We would always crack jokes
everyday and the "wild style" is what we
did every year at "Spring Madness." To be
able to actually be on Wild'N Out, it's just
crazy. Literally, I cannot believe it.
Next Jeneration: Surreal! Is it different
from what we see on TV? Like behind
the scenes, or back stage do you crack
jokes on one another? How's that?
Yvng Swag: Yeah, it is. But it's also a lot of
work. It's a lot that goes into it, including
workshops and actually learning the
games. It's a Wild' N Out game bible, so we
all have to get used to playing the games.
It's really like a job. You literally have to
perfect your Wild'N Out craft. It's not easy-
it's so difficult and hard but then it's easy
and fun at the same time. Don't think
too hard on it, you just have to be yourself
and find your own lane.
Next Jeneration: Awesome! I noticed your accent, tell us where you're from?
Yvng Swag: [Laughing] I'm from a small town in Kent County, Maryland.
Next Jeneration: Is everybody back in Maryland so proud of you?
Yvng Swag: Yes, in my hometown they are. Everyone is so supportive.
Next Jeneration: In this new generation of media, the older folks' they don't really understand. How was it getting your parents, your aunts, just the older people to understand what it is that you do?
Yvng Swag: To be honest, when I very first started- I didn't even tell my mom and [family] that I was famous. I know it sounds crazy but I wanted them to find out. The crazy thing is, I popped up on their Facebook timeline and it had 2 million views. They was like 'what is this dancing in front of the house that got you 2 million views for?' and I'm like 'I'm famous on Vine.' That's when I got my family involved, I got my dad involved when I started my business.
Next Jeneration: We noticed your swag, because it's in your name. Tell us about the different sneakers. The different colors, how did that start?
Yvng Swag: So, one day I woke up and I didn't know what shoe to wear. I had on two different shoes at the time. I was like 'you know what? This is actually not bad. I went to school and everyone thought I got dressed in the dark. Ever since then I wanted to get creative with this.
Aside from Wild'N Out, Yvng Swag also appears on a show with Nick Cannon entitled, Fresh Artist. Swag has been gaining a lot more attention as he makes progressive moves in his career such as this.
Next Jeneration: Tell us what you can about your new show with Nick Cannon on Nickelodeon.
Yvng Swag: The documentary- they came to Kent County, it's a small town. I used to always tell myself, being from there I can't make it. I have to move to New York or somewhere else. Then I was like 'It doesn't really matter, let me just start recording in my room.' That's where it all started. I started making videos in my room. So, they found my story so inspirational, so they came to shoot that.
Next Jeneration: Super super dope! So, music. Congratulations on being played on Hot 97. How'd you get into music? Did you always want to do music?
Yvng Swag: See, the crazy thing is I've always played around with rapping. I've always had a comedic style of rap, I would just rap funny. My mom sings very good, she has an amazing voice so I know it runs in the family. I never really had that confidence in my voice until I posted a video online, I was playing a beat, and it was 2,000 comments of people asking 'is this song on SoundCloud?' That's when I made Fall In Love, that's the first single I put out. I love music so much, when I heard certain songs I just knew they were going to blow up. When I heard Fall In Love, I was like 'I'm going to keep going with this.'
Next Jeneration: Your video has 11 million views on YouTube, congrats on that!
Next Jeneration: Where can we find your music?"
Yvng Swag: Everywhere, Apple music, SoundCloud, Spotify. It's everywhere.
Yvng Swag lets Next Jeneration know he is set to release some new music, just in time for his birthday, in the beginning on February. He also mentioned he is working on new TV and film projects, which we can expect in the near future.
One things for sure, Yvng Swag's authenticity will continue to be the driving force that sets him apart from the rest. Next Jeneration is down for the ride.