Fast Life Yungstaz celebrate 15 years of ‘Swag Surfin’

How a viral song and dance from Atlanta became a cultural phenomenon
(L. to R.) Fast Life Yungstaz, or F.L.Y., members iMcFli, Vee and Mook released "Swag Surfin" in the summer of 2008. The song's popularity earned them a deal with Def Jam Records in 2009.

Credit: Ko-Bena

Credit: Ko-Bena

(L. to R.) Fast Life Yungstaz, or F.L.Y., members iMcFli, Vee and Mook released "Swag Surfin" in the summer of 2008. The song's popularity earned them a deal with Def Jam Records in 2009.

Fifteen years ago this month, Stone-Mountain-based hip-hop recording act Fast Life Yungstaz, or F.L.Y., released the song “Swag Surfin.” The group made the single and added a signature dance to reflect how much fun they have partying in Atlanta.

They weren’t sure if the song or the dance would become a cultural phenomenon. But indeed “Swag Surfin” has become a staple of celebration at Black social gatherings and sporting events.

The dance also became a trending topic again early this year, when singer Taylor Swift performed the move at an NFL playoff game between the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs, for whom her current boyfriend Travis Kelce plays as tight end.

The song opens with a brass riff, ahead of programmed staccato snare drums and booming percussion that lead to F.L.Y. members Mook, Vee, iMcFli and guest artist Easton rapping about creating joyful moments. The song, produced by Valdosta native K.E. on the Track, was certified platinum this month by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.

Its accompanying flash-mob-style dance features participants in huddle or line formations placing their arms around friends’ shoulders, while lunging and moving from side to side. Unlike most dance singles from Atlanta, “Swag Surfin” doesn’t instruct the listeners on how to move to the beat.

Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay requested the song from the sidelines at the Week 17 playoff game earlier this year against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I’m glad that everyone keeps having a good time, and we can continue to bring good vibes and create memories with that song,” Vee said.

Fast Life Yungstaz formed in December 2007 after Mook’s uncle suggested the three form a group. He noticed the childhood friends’ chemistry and sense of style during a family outing on Thanksgiving night at Club Crunk, a nightclub formerly located on Memorial Drive.

“We came together over a 10-piece wing from American Deli in South Dekalb Mall,” Mook said.

In April 2008 Fast Life Yungstaz played their first show at Royal Garden, a club on Old National Highway. It was there in College Park that they saw people on the dance floor, doing the moves in a huddle, for the first time.

“They were just going from side to side, and the dance didn’t have a name attached to it,” Vee said. “We were thinking about something we could do to make our music different.”

Soon after, Fast Life Yungstaz picked the background music tracks for “Swag Surfin,” and for their debut single, “Mr. Lenox,” after searching for beats on MySpace. They paid $75 for the music and paired the dance with both of the songs.

Recording “Swag Surfin” at his uncle’s two-bedroom apartment on the southside, Mook says they came up with song’s title and dance together. Their recording session then turned into a contest.

“It was a competition to see who could finish their verse first, so that’s how we got to the order of the song,” he said.

In August 2008, DJ Pretty Boy Tank was the first to play “Swag Surfin” for the public, at a recurring event known as Wasted Wednesdays at A-Town East, a small nightclub that was located in DeKalb County. The group’s members say it took a month for the audience to respond to the song.

“It was interesting seeing it grow from MySpace and word-of-mouth,” Tank said. “Atlanta has been trendsetting with music, so it’s always cool to see how other people come and grasp onto it.”

Clark Atlanta University cheerleaders do the “swag surf” dance during a homecoming pep rally on Friday, October 14, 2022. (Natrice Miller/

Credit: Natrice Miller /

icon to expand image

Credit: Natrice Miller /

As “Swag Surfin” generated buzz, Fast Life Yungstaz began performing at clubs and parties. The song started gaining a following at HBCUs, and in January 2009, it caught the attention of Antonio “L.A.” Reid, president of Def Jam Records and co-founder of LaFace Records. Reid flew F.L.Y. to New York, to perform for his interns.

“He asked them if they liked the song,” Mook said. “He told them he didn’t care, because he liked it anyway.” The group signed a record deal with Reid after the performance. “He treated us to soul food, and we celebrated our deal at Magic City as soon as we got off the plane.”

Fast Life Yungstaz released their debut album, “Jamboree,” later in 2009 and “Swag Surfin” peaked at 62 on the Billboard pop charts that year.

Despite not gaining a higher chart position, “Swag Surfin” was a fan favorite. Rappers Fabolous, Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz all recorded remixes of “Swag Surfin.” In April 2009, Usher praised Fast Life Yungstaz after their performance at Luckie Food Lounge. “As we were leaving the stage, he grabbed us and said we had a hit,” Mook said.

The song’s popularity continued to soar so highly that the dance made it on the White House lawn at a barbecue hosted by former President Barack Obama in October 2016 and then again in the estate’s East Room a month later.

Two years later, Beyonce incorporated a snippet of “Swag Surfin” into her Coachella performance, which was inspired by an HBCU football game halftime show. That same year, a gospel choir performed the song at an event during New York Fashion Week.

In 2019, WNBA team Washington Mystics adopted “Swag Surfin” as its championship theme. Chicago Bears included the song in its rotation as part of its “Club Dub” videos.

Both Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta Hawks continue to use the song at games.

“Those moments showed us how universal the record really is,” Easton said.

In 2022 singer Janet Jackson was captured on video “swag surfin’” at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, standing next to Jason “J.” Carter, founder of Atlanta’s annual One Musicfest concert. A year later, she headlined One Musicfest’s first year at Piedmont Park.

“A friend of mine saw it and predicted that she would show up to One Musicfest the next year,” Carter said. “It was an honor planting those seeds with the dance to have her on the stage.”

The group plans to celebrate the anniversary of “Swag Surfin” with a tour, a documentary and platinum plaque presentation in June of this year.

Fast Life Yungstaz say many of their fans still don’t recognize them, but they’re fine with the song’s notoriety being more well-known than they are. Citing as an example their pride when Jay Z invited them to attend the 2023 Roc Nation Brunch, his swanky, invite-only annual event held before the Grammys, they are constantly reminded that they’ve still got that swag.

“The song has put us in different rooms to shake hands with people that we haven’t before,” Mook said.