My Favourite Rap Term: Swayze

“Swayze,” as in Roadhouse actor Patrick Swayze, is one of the weirdest terms in hip-hop.

Hip-hop is a genre very well known for slang: known and popular or otherwise. Like half of the English language’s slang terms come from African-American Vernacular English (AAVE), which is obviously very strongly tied with rap, then dig one step deeper into regional dialects and slang and we end up with a mountain of words, terms and phrases that make their way into rap songs.

Swayze is my personal favourite, solely because of how many steps it takes to get from Patrick Swayze to the actual term. The term itself means to disappear.

Noteworthy examples:

“That’s why I bust back, it don’t faze me / When he drop, take his glock and I’m Swayze”

Notorious B.I.G on Tupac’s Runnin’ (Dying To Live

“I’m sick, insane, crazy, Driving Miss Daisy / Out of her fuckin’ mind, now I got mine, I’m Swayze”

Method Man on Brind the Pain

It’s the number of jumps to get from A to B and the unequivocally non-rap movie reference that make it for me.

  1. American Actor Patrick Swayze
  2. Patrick Swayze started in 1990’s Ghost with Demi Moore. As Wikipedia puts it:

    Ghost is a 1990 American romantic fantasy thriller film directed by Jerry Zucker from a screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin, and starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Goldwyn, Vincent Schiavelli and Rick Aviles. The plot centers on Sam Wheat (Swayze), a murdered banker, whose ghost sets out to save his girlfriend, Molly Jensen (Moore), from the person who killed him – through the help of the psychic Oda Mae Brown (Goldberg).”

    This is not a film like Boyz N The Hood or Scarface that has deep connection to black or street culture. It’s a romantic thriller famous for a pottery scene.
  3. Patrick Swayze’s character is a ghost. Maybe the term references the movie title, but I like to think it references the literal ghost in the movie.
  4. Ghosts are transparent or invisible, and can dissappear.
  5. Therefore, Swayze = dissappear

The term has had a steep decline since the ’90s, which makes sense seeign as the movie was released tin 1990 and nobody has seen it since then. Genius’ Rap Stats tool is currently broken, but if it’s every fixed I’ll include the chart.

I really like to imagine various rappers just loving the movie Ghost for one reason or another. When the Scarface 25th Anniversary edition came out, there was a mini-documentary attached detailing Scarface’s influence on rap, and there was talk at one point of various rap producers redoing the score and soundtrack to the movie.

I find the idea of guys like RZA or Pete Rock chomping at the bit to re-score the movie Ghost to be absolutely hilarious, and nobody will ever convice me that they wouldn’t jump at the opportunity.