Soulja Boy Tellem!

Hopped up out tha bed,

Turn ma swag on,

Took a look in tha mirror said wassup,

Yeeeeea, I'm gettin' money (oohhh)

-"Turn My Swag On" by Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em

I have to admit, I sort of begrudgingly love Soulja Boy's "Turn My Swag On." Though the Blackademic within should probably be preparing some harangue-with the obligatory reference to Barack Obama's accomplishments-I can't bring myself to do it. Why? Because it's the perfect recession song; a tune for the times, not in the "What's Going On?" sense but in the "Wow, I'll take a pick-me-up where I can get it" sense.

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The song works for multiple reasons. It has the three Southern rap food groups: a beat that knocks so hard you can't ignore it, a bad karaoke-type charm and a brainwashingly effective chorus. Put all of that together, and you can't help but do that awkward, office-chair dance.

I'm aware that in many ways, neither Soulja Boy nor "Turn My Swag On" are anything spectacular-indeed, both are right in line with the run-of-the-mill coonery that makes many of us cringe. But I'm not looking to Soulja Boy for cogent insights on TARP or how to reform the Department of Education. I know that I should take offense to his savagely off-key attempt at singing. But I give it a mulligan for the same reason Kanye West gets one-the spirit of a song is sometimes more important than whether or not it was performed in key. Frankly, I appreciate Soulja Boy for having the gall to use his own voice rather than go barreling down the primrose path toward Auto-Tune. (Sidebar: Can we pass a bill that says T-Pain is the only contemporary artist allowed to use Auto-Tune? Be real. He's the only one that does it well. Ask Zapp and Roger.)

For me, "Turn My Swag On" has a certain "Eye of the Tiger" quality, not nearly as iconic, but definitely an abundantly cathartic release with a lyrical intent I can identify with. Am I an 18-year-old, bubble-gum-rap clown with more money than I know what to do with? No more than I'm an Italian from Philly looking to get his swagger back in the boxing ring. And yet, I feel the essence from both songs they inspired. I know the place from whence both songs speak.

I got a question why they hatin' on me?

I got a question why they hatin' on me?

I ain't did nothin' to 'em, but count this money

And put my team on, got my whole clique stunnin'

Boy wassup, yeeeea

Boy wassup, yeeeea

Forget your high-mindedness for a moment. What's wrong with staying focused on providing for you and yours while not deliberately hurting other people? Isn't that what all of us, especially now, are trying to do? I would say it is.

I'm back againnnnn,

I know a lot of y'all thought I wasn't coming back

Yeeeeea, yeeeeea

I had to prove them wronggggg,

Got back in the studio and came up with another hit

Yeeeeea, yeeeeea

Call me crazy, but motivation is motivation is motivation, and I don't care whose mouth it's coming from. In these trying times, you don't get to quit. You have to hop out of the bed every morning and turn your swag on-even when you're running on empty-because without that swag, you gets no money. When your reality-and that of your bank statement-is tough, sometimes all you can do is start buckin' and say, "I'm not losing today." Sometimes your dance and swag is all you have. 

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I'm not saying Soulja Boy discovered swag. He's merely continuing a long tradition of black people finding a way to get by despite the odds. So soldier on, Soulja Boy. I, might not be listening for long, and I might be cringing a bit as I bounce. But for the time being, I'm just not that mad at cha.

Jonathan Pitts-Wiley is a writer based in New York, and the author of The Root's Buzz Column.