When people think of the word “swag,” most tend to think of the colloquial term that some online urban dictionary’s define as “the way one carries their self” or the “style that he or she presents themselves [with]”.
But when you ask Senior Jessica Samiere what swag is, she defines it as “a student who aspires greatness.”
This 22-year-old sociology major aspires to achieve greatness through her music, which initially began as her way to escape the realities of her life.
Struggling to deal with her parents divorce while in middle school, Samiere found herself writing poems to cope.
Mirroring the emotional tone of her situation, Samiere always seemed to find herself writing negative and depressing poems, she said.
Frustrated with her demeanor, Samiere’s best friend used their friendship as a way to push her to write something on the other side of the emotional spectrum.
“He told me he was tired of me always writing negative poems,” Samiere said. “He left and said he would only come back the day I wrote something happy.”
Samiere said her negative poems usually sucked, but when she was forced to write her first positive poem she realized it was one of her best.
“It ended up turning into a song,” Samiere said.
And thus her talent for writing songs was born. Now she writes several songs for underground and up-and-coming mainstream artists.
But music had always been in Samiere’s childhood while growing up. With four brothers and one sister, Samiere’s family created an acapella singing group.
“They would call us the Samiere 5, kind of like the Jackson 5,” Samiere said.
But it wasn’t until she met Lonnie Rashied Lynn, Jr. better known as Common, that she truly began to believe in her music.
Common shared with Samiere just how talented she was and said her “music was bomb.”
Samiere was one of the few selected to perform for the Hip Hop artist and actor, at a student showcase and panel discussion at CSUN in March.
“Even if I don’t make it and become famous, at least I now know I am good at what I do,” Samiere said.
Although Samiere considers herself to be part of the hip hop community, she doesn’t allow herself to listen to most artists out in the industry.
She tries not to listen to anyone to avoid being influenced by the mainstream artists’ style.
One might be surprised to find her main influence comes from a non-musical source.
Autobiographer, poet, and political activist Dr. Maya Angelou is Samiere’s greatest influence on her music.
“Maya Angelou is like my Yoda because anything she says I soak in,” Samiere said. “Everyone should take into retrospect what she says because she’s been through too much and instead of writing negative, she always takes it and puts it into a positive.”
Samiere was even more inspired by Angelou when she won an essay contest to attend a meet and greet with Angelou October 2009 at CSUN.
Although Samiere’s dream is to become an all-around artist, don’t for one second think she doesn’t dedicate just as much time to her school work.
Samiere recognizes and realizes the importance of getting an education.
“Academics are not only the key to a better future, but as an artist you should never dumb yourself down,” Samiere said. “Don’t think you can make it into the industry with just pure talent alone.”
This San Francisco native is a straight A student as well as a peer mentor in the Academic Mentor Program in the Residence Halls. The new program was developed last year to assist students on academic probation and to help mnfirst-time freshman succeed in college.
Besides studying to maintain her GPA, she can be found in her room writing more songs and making new tracks in her free time.