Profile: Sway

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“Play close attention, ladies: there are many great black men out there. Do not buy into the lies that all the good men are already married or gay. These are lies sold to our community so that we don’t forge strong family or personal You could be forgiven for haven’t not heard of Sway, a young, bright rapper from London. That’s because he has been eluded by the big major record labels. But that did not stop him doing his thing.

He and a cousin created a label, called dcypha records, then merged with another record label who shared the same vision as theirs. That label was Alliance Records—together they embarked on what would seem like a daunting task of getting their music to the masses. They also shot a video for their single “Flo Fashion� and got lots of hype from it. “But at the same time because we didn’t have any associates in the music industry, we couldn’t really take it any further. I mean, with the mixtapes, we was just selling them on road, we didn’t have any access towards any major distribution,� Sway clarified.

However a meeting with Dan Greenpeace from all city records, provided additional armor for the fledgling rapper/producer. “He felt what we were doing and wanted to help us with marketing and distribution but in terms of the music, we’re releasing from Dcypha/Alliance Productions,� he added.

Born Derek Safo, Sway has been producing and rapping since he was 13, as part of a collective called One. He crafted his skill through free styling and battling other rappers in venues in London. “Back then, battling was a stepping stone for me. I lost some, I won some, but the ones I lost I didn’t really lose, ‘cos I still got something out of it. But looking back at it was something of a lost cause. My career really started taking off when I stopped battling and started making songs.�

In 2005 Sway recorded 2 mixtapes, “This Is My Promo Vol 1 & 2.� But he had to do a lot of roadwork to get his mixtapes out. He sold on the streets, Internet and independent record stores. His mixtapes started to generate a buzz in the streets. He was supported by BBC1 Xtra Internet radio station and some of the pirate radio stations. His videos for “Flo Fashion� and “ Up your speed� were played on MTV base and Channel U. His Mixtapes have reportedly sold over 10,000 copies, which is unheard of. Mixtapes normally sell in the hundreds.

The underground hype grew like wild fire, then culminated in Sway being nominated for the MOBO awards in 2005 as best Hip Hop act. Sway fended off challenges from 50 cent and Game to win the MOBO award for best Hip Hop act of 2005. This came as a surprise to many observes, even Sway himself. “Mix-tapes effectively provide a diary of my life," says Sway. "They feature skits and interviews of me on radio. When people follow your story, they feel closer to you - it's like a soap opera. People want to know what's going to happen next." This is why, he says, he was successful at the Mobos. "Everywhere I went people on the streets said they had voted for me. In the UK people like to support their own and they come together to make things like this happen.�

Sway is now in a good position to negotiate a deal that would suit him with a major record label. He insists that he would want to retain full creative control when getting a deal. Sway has released his first album “This is my demo� on February 9 and is currently on tour to promote it. This album was released on his own label, but Sway knows that he will have to answer a call from a major label in the future.

Speaking Truth To Empower.â€? To contact The Black Star News write [email protected] or call (212) 481-7745. Subscribe to this newspaper and advertise to build power.

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