Smoke fills the air like the exhaust of a Shelby GT. Black and Mild’s, Newports and rolling tobacco is being sparked in almost every direction. Amid all the smoke, one can smell a variety of different flavors of Muslim oils, the favored substitute for cologne around these parts. The yard at Wallkill Correctional Facility is filled to capacity, and despite the rules governing attire, the residents manage to sport an impressive variety of styles — in other words, swag.
But few can compete with the Swag Gods, Tommy G’s and Cash, a duo known throughout the prison for their immaculate taste in fashion. I asked them how they do it.
Shaquan Hinds: Where are y’all from and how has that played part in your style?
Tommy: I come from a different type of culture, Harlem, where style was created.
Cash: I’m from Northside, Jamaica, Queens aka QGTM: “Queens get the money.” Where I’m from, money plays a big part in your swag because if you ain’t got no money, you ain’t got no swag.
SH: You seem to be doing pretty well in here. In this type of environment, how do you stay in tune with what’s trending?
Tommy: Well, I stay in tune with myself because I’m the trendsetter. Let me say this again: I stay in tune with myself because I’m the trendsetter. But I do use TMZ as a way to stay in tune. And shout out to the GQ.
Cash: Social media, exploring and reading magazines and giving these lame nigga’s some swag.
SH: How do you define swag?
Tommy: I feel it has a lot to do with your aura, like hand gestures, the timing of your words and the way you dress, but more to do with your soul because you could have a horrible outfit on and pull it off with your self-confidence.
Cash: My definition of swag is quality fashion, control and trendsetting.
SH: Who are some of the people that influence your swag?
Tommy: My family. They were wearing minks, gators and driving Cadillacs. Oh yeah, shout out to Max B though.
Cash: Future Hendrix, you know Swag God [gestures at Tommy] and myself.
SH: What’s your thoughts on the trend of fitted blues and greens? [Editor’s note: These are prison-issued pants custom-tailored by skilled inmates.]
Cash: You can’t just let yourself go because you’re in a bad predicament. Regardless of what pants you wear in jail, they must be properly tailored like as if you in the streets. Like Fab said, “Even if you’re hungry, never look like you’re starving.”
Tommy: Well, I’m different. I’m the only one with different color blues and greens (Trendsetter!). I wear different from other people! I take the air out the ball … just so I could flex.
SH: How does it make you feel that people come to you for fashion advice?
Tommy: It’s a beautiful thing. It lets me know I’m not losing, no way, shape or form. Praise the lord! I got that Dapper Dan in me, so I influence these lost souls out here, and it’s helping me by helping them.
Cash: I feel honored to be helping people in areas in which they lack.
SH: Since there are no women in here why do you feel it’s important to keep your swag all the way up?
Cash: My quote should answer that.
Tommy: It’s just a level-up thing for me, so I know when I come home, the law of attraction will come into play.
SH: Do you plan to capitalize off of your fine taste in fashion after incarceration?
Cash: Yes, Bien-Aimes is my future unisex collection.
Tommy: Of course. I feel like I’m so swagged out that fashion designers are going to throw clothes my way to sport ‘em.
SH: Describe to me the process of preparing and getting ready for a visit?
Cash: First step is to have a good breakfast. Step two: Do a boss arm and chest workout. Step three: Take a boss shower. Step four: You should already have your clothes prepared from the night before. Step five: Ask your close friends how your outfit looks. Step six: Muslim oil. Step seven: make sure you have clean teeth and good smelling breath — don’t go down there with your mouth smelling like sardines.
Tommy: First and foremost, make sure the designer hairline is straight; wake up in the morning, and get in at least 500 pushups, so your fitted shirt will be extra fitted; good deodorant; smell good and breath on fleek.
SH: Is it true that swag isn’t just what you wear but also how you wear it?
Cash: That’s true and false because you can’t swag out a dress.
Tommy: Of course it’s all about how you wear it because you could have a red designer shirt with a blue logo, and you would want to match it to the blue in your jeans or sneakers. Everything has to correlate. You can’t just wear anything. You have to put it together right.
SH: Any last words for your fans?
Tommy: I want you to achieve, succeed and prosper in everything you put your energy into. Speak to the subconscious mind all the positive thoughts, and feed the good wolf. Be cool how you be cool.
Cash: For my fans and my haters out there, stay fly and be humble.
Read more from The Wallkill Journal’s April 30 issue here.
Email Shaquan Hinds at [email protected]