Former track athlete hopes to go from triple jump to triple platinum

Josh Stanley and AJ Taylor

Sophomore Nicholas Taylor of the 2011 Sacramento State track and field championship team chose to continue his music career in place of running track and field after he received an ultimatum from head coach Kathleen Raske, according to Taylor.

Raske, who would not comment for this article, presented the ultimatum to Taylor because of inappropriate content in his music video on YouTube. Scenes from the video showed behavior, which included other college athletes, that is not permitted by Sac State. Raske did not want an athlete on the team that misrepresents the school with a negative image, according to Taylor.

During his time on the track team, Taylor had three indoor top-four finishes out of the seven meets he competed in and five outdoor top four finishes in the 14 meets in which he competed.

Taylor competed in the triple jump and high jump during the indoor season and he placed seventh in the Sac State record books for the indoor triple jump at 47-04.50 and seventh for the indoor high jump at 6-04.25.

In the outdoor season, Taylor competed in the high jump, triple jump and long jump and he placed sixth in the Sac State record books for his outdoor triple jump at 48-08.75.

Taylor was given one day to decide his future, but to him the choice was clear.

“I chose what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Taylor said. “Music is where my heart is.”

As a result of his decision, Taylor lost his NCAA scholarship and the title of student athlete, but he left the team ready to embark on his journey toward becoming a professional rapper.

Taylor, known among his fans as Kidd Swagg, has been a YouTube sensation since the beginning. Swagg’s first song, “I’m a Nerd” was recorded in his days in high school when he was a part of the rap group Swag Kids. Since the song was first posted to YouTube in 2009, there have been more than 1.5 million views.

“We didn’t even expect the song to get big like that,’ Swagg said. “I don’t really even (associate) with that song anymore. I don’t like to put that out there because I don’t like to be associated with jerking. Jerking rappers don’t make it in the industry.”

Swagg’s starting fan base was from his hometown in Southern California, but his main following is in Northern California now. When he first moved to Sacramento, Swagg said he started out by handing out demos of his music at clubs and parties to get his name out. After the music got into the right hands, Swagg was introduced to Bay Area producer Big Hollis, who liked his work and added Swagg to his team.

Since then, Swagg has been performing all around Sacramento and California and has even been apart of performances that featured Chamillionaire, Audio Push and other various professional artists.

Through all the performances Swagg has been a part of, he said playing in front of crowds who know his music is one of the best feelings.

“There’s nothing like being on stage,” Swagg said. “Hearing a beat and your song, and everybody in the crowd knows the lyrics to your song, and everybody wants to see you perform your song because it’s your song that they listen to all day long over and over.”

Swagg’s appreciation does not stop with his rap fans, but track teammate Mario Giovannoni said Swagg was fun to be around at practice at Sac State.

“He was always positive,” Giovannoni said. “(Swagg was) always looking good and joking around with teammates. (Swagg) was a solid source of entertainment as he danced and sang all through practices.”

Swagg is also good friends with local DJ and Sac State sophomore business major Adam LaMarche, also known as deejay a.mar, and he said Swagg has what it takes to become a professional rapper.

“He’s really talented at rapping and this music thing,” LaMarche said. “He really stands out compared to other people. (Talent wise) I think he could go all the way. He can dance, he can sing and he can rap. When we do these shows together, I think people really feel what he is doing. I think he can do it.”

Swagg said that he plans on releasing his first ever mixtapes soon and he is working on making more music videos for his songs. With support from thousands of fans, his management team and his friends, Swagg said he hopes he can make it to the top and make this his career.

“My future is hopefully getting a record deal and being able to do this for the rest of my life,” Swagg said.


Josh Stanley can be reached at [email protected]AJ Taylor can be reached at [email protected].