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Interview: Sway

We recently caught up with the popular and acclaimed rapper Sway about his new single “Charge” and the upcoming LP The Deliverance.  Sway, who’s been working since 2004 and a bunch of awards for his works, including the Mercury Music Prize, is lauded for his social consciousness, steady beats and fast-paced rapping style.  Having started as a producer and then being encouraged to enter the game himself, his trajectory has been incredible and we were excited to learn about his influences and ambitions.

PlanetNotion: You’ve been working as a rap artist for a while, did your fast lyrical rhythm and flow take time to master or did you always have a knack for it?
Sway: I think that anything that you want to do well takes time to hone; I did have an initial knack for it off the back of being very into ‘Bone, Thugs ‘N’ Harmony’ and also Drum ‘N’ Bass music early on in my career but it was something that did come with time and being able to actually say something while saying it fast, lyrically, did come with time and experience.

PN: The third single form the new album ‘Charge’ has you working with Mr Hudson again. Is there something about working with him in particular that brings out the energy of your collaborations?
Sway: Hudson is a great person to work with, we’ve had a great working relationship for a long period of time and on top of all things, we’re friends so it makes the job in the studio a lot easier. I think there will be more collaboration between me and Mr Hudson in the near future.

PN: Are there any artists or producers you’d particularly like to work with that you haven’t already had the chance?
Sway: I’m very into what ‘Chase and Status’ are doing at the moment. I hope that they’ll reach out to me eventually to do a record. Also, as far-fetched as it might sound, eventually I’d love to do something with ‘Dr Dre’.

PN: Your style is unique but definitely seems influenced by a lot of other great rappers. Are there any artists in particular that influenced or inspired you when you were first getting started?
Sway: Definitely, as I stated before, one of my favourite hip hop groups of all time is Bone Thugs N Harmony, and they played a very prominent role in the way I rap today.

PN: You’ve worked both as a solo artist and in hip-hop groups before; do you enjoy one of those more than the other?
Sway: I prefer to work as a solo artist with other solo artists as its two entities forming one as opposed to one entity.

PN: Your new album, ‘The Deliverance’ is coming out soon and clearly the singles are well received so far, what was your favourite part about writing or recording the album?
Sway: My favourite part about writing and recording the album was the freedom that I had, being away for some time and having my last album in 2008 meant that there wasn’t an extremely, great expectation of how this album should sound or how it should be delivered which left me the freedom to do exactly as I pleased and I’m very pleased to say that, so far, it has all been coming together greatly.

PN: How is ‘The Deliverance’ different from ‘The Signature’ LP, another major release of yours?
Sway: As I’ve grown as a person, I’ve also grown as an artist and so ‘The Signature’ LP was very reminiscent of the things that I was going through at that time of life whereas ‘The Deliverance’ is a lot broader, it’s a lot less personal but it’s very energetic and very inspirational.

PN: When you were working as a producer for local artists a lot of them encouraged you to do your own stuff. Without that encouragement do you think you would have pursued a career as a rap artist?
Sway: I think if you look from any angle but look up, the stars are always gonna’ align so one way or another I would have ended up being an artist despite whether I had the encouragement from those people or not, but I’m very thankful to those people for encouraging me at that point as it gave me enough time to hone my skills before I released.

PN: Your lyrics are often imbued with sense of humour, how do you balance that with the sharp pointed philosophical lines and social commentaries?
Sway: To be honest, I really have no idea how the humour element creeps into my music, because at large I’m a pretty serious individual. I don’t make a lot of jokes outside of music but somehow some kind of alter-ego creeps in every time I write a rhyme and likes to buss a joke every now and then.

PN: Finally, what are you looking to do after ‘The Deliverance’ is released?
Sway: As soon as I finish ‘The Deliverance’, I’m ready to complete the album that follows that which is currently untitled.


-Alex Gladwin

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