An insight into Sway DaSafo’s world
Derek Andrew Safo (born 5 September 1982) is a British hip hop rapper of Ghanaian origins, who uses the stage names Sway DaSafo or simply Sway; he is also a full-time producer, establishing DCypha Productions.
Sway was born in Hornsey, London, in 1982.
His mother had travelled from Amsterdam to Heathrow on her journey to Ghana, from which she originated and spoke the dialect of Twi. Whilst in London, she gave birth to Derek Safo. Sway began experimenting with music at the age of 11, rewriting the lyrics of his favourite artists. At secondary school, he spent his spare time using the school equipment for musical production. Producing tracks for local artists, he was told to use his personality to write songs by adding his humour with his lyrical talent.
At the age of 16, Sway had a place in the grand final of an open mic session at Dingwalls in London. He lost to Chester P of Task Force. It was at this age that Sway was a member of Tottenham-based hip-hop trio “Phynix Crew”. Following his defeat at Dingwalls, Sway got into the finals of Choice FM’s ‘Rapology ‘99′ with his rap group where they lost. Phynix Crew merged with two other rap groups to form “One”.
Sway was now studying at college, as well as having a part-time job and producing ringtones for a company. Sway began to create a studio in his bedroom with the money he earned so that he could start to produce his own songs.
Sway produced many solo singles despite being in a rap group and his first break was under the name ‘Sway DaSafo’ on the track Still On My Own which reached the A-list of BBC Radio 1Xtra when the station was launched. He continued to produce music. When One released their first debut album, called Onederful World, 50% of the 10-track CD was produced by Sway.
A member of the ‘MOBO Unsung’ committee enjoyed it and nominated it for the ‘MOBO Unsung’ competition, which resulted in the group reaching the final five of the competition. They did not win, however, DJ Tim Westwood of BBC Radio 1 and DJ Semtex of BBC Radio 1Xtra began giving them airplay.
In 2003, Sway started to pursue a solo career in the British music scene. He was invited by his cousin, DJ Ink, to feature on some of his drum and bass tracks and he became a member of the group “Fifth Element”. In 2004, Sway established DCypha Productions to enable him to release his mixtapes and debut solo album, This Is My Demo. At DCypha, Sway produces his beats and songs alongside his long-time friends Pyrelli and Bigz.
Sway has released two independent mixtapes, called This Is My Promo Volumes 1 and 2. They were underground successes, and his debut LP This Is My Demo was released on 6 February 2006. Its second single, “Little Derek”, headed in at #38 on the UK national charts. Remixes are also available featuring Baby Blue.
His debut has become controversial amongst UK hip-hop artists due to his criticism of many modern rap artists “over hyping” themselves and glorifying themselves using elements from gang culture and street violence to make themselves seem ‘harder’ than they are and thus sell records to people who are potentially ignorant of the true roots of hip-hop.
Sway was the main support act for The Streets’ UK tour, which began in Manchester on 27 April 2006, and ended in Leeds on 12 May 2006. He has also been performing solo around Europe to promote This is My Demo. He created a song in 2005 dedicated to his profile on MySpace. He also appeared on The Mitchell Brothers’ popular single Harvey Nicks alongside The Streets’ Mike Skinner.
Sway announced at the The Dotted Lines Mixtape release party that he is producing a second album named The Signature LP with a mention of a release date of 5 May 2008 on the mixtape itself. However, the album was delayed to September 29, as announced on his MySpace profile. Again, the album was delayed and the official release date now stands at October 6, 2008.
The first single release from The Signature LP was F Ur X featuring female MC $tush. The video for the song was released in May 2008. The music video features actors from Kidulthood and Adulthood and also includes Ashley Walters, Bashy and also Chipmunk.
The second single to be released was “Saturday Night Hustle” featuring British soul singer Lemar.
The track list for the album will be:
Fit 4 A King
Say It Twice
Saturday Night Hustle (featuring Lemar)
Silver And Gold (featuring Akon)
F UR X - (featuring $tush)
Look After My Girl (featuring Darren B)
Pray 4 Kaya
Letters To Heaven (featuring Leo)
End Of The Road (featuring Coco)
His reputation rose from underground to mainstream after coming into the public eye by winning a MOBO award in September 2005 for Best Hip Hop Act. Sway defeated heavyweight hip-hop artists 50 Cent and The Game to collect the award. He was also nominated for the second year running in the best hip-hop category for the MOBO awards held at the end of September 2006.
In July 2006, Sway’s album This Is My Demo was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize but the award was won by the Arctic Monkeys at the ceremony on September 6.
In November 2006, Sway won a BET Hip-Hop Award for “Best UK Hip-Hop Act”, beating the likes of Blak Twang, Plan B, Dizzee Rascal and Kano. By being nominated and winning the BET for “BEST UK Hip-Hop Act”, Sway was seen by millions across America in a video showing himself in a cipher with Saigon, Remy Ma, and Rhymefest freestyling on a rooftop in New York.
This freestyle can also be heard on DJ Kay Slay’s mixtape Drama Season Begins Now. His song “Hype Boys” is used in the video game Need For Speed: Carbon.
The US Sway argues with the UK Sway that Sway DaSafo should not use the same name. Sway appeared briefly on Sky News to discuss the controversy over the “N” word.
Sway is the cousin of former Arsenal footballer, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, who is currently playing for Birmingham City. Owusu-Abeiye claims he is an accomplished rapper too.
Sway travelled to Sierra Leone in December 2007 to support a development project with the likes of Dawn Angelique Richard and Samata Angel.