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Sway - This Is My Demo review...

Published by Warren Dell under on Monday, March 20, 2006
While everyone from the indie press to even your dad is raving about how the Internet helped Arctic Monkeys go from social clubs to top of the charts, a similar rise to fame has been taking place in the UK from Hip-Hop star Sway De Safo. This Is My Demo is the hotly anticipated debut that comes off the back of a year where the North London mc has created a massive buzz through his self-released mixtapes.

Becoming the first UK artist to really take advantage of the mixtape avenue that has proved so successful for US acts the last few years – none more so than 50 ‘shot 9 times’ Cent, Sway as an unsigned artist has been able to create a fan base that a major label would crave for one of their artists.

At almost every interview the question is raised whether or not he’s really signed because of the professionalism of his output and street marketing campaign.

The Mixtapes which brought him to attention were This Is My Promo Vol 1 & 2, which showed his talent for making party songs - flipping J-Kwon’s “Tipsy” to “Pepsi” and parodying lightweights to even making jokes at the self proclaimed God’s son Nas and America on the “Thief’s Theme” remix. The lyric ‘the pound is stronger than the dollar’ showcased his confidence and swagger just as much as being a true statement of the current exchange rate between two countries.

With as many punch lines as a stand up comic Sway has become a mainstay on video channels and picked up plenty of spins from specialist to national radio. At the tail end of last year he walked away with a MOBO award (like the Vibe awards) for best Hip-Hop ahead of The Game and 50 Cent.

The lead single “Little Derek” takes in what a year it’s been with the beat dashed with a West Coast Hip-Hop feel. Commentary on the hustle of city life makes up the theme for the up beat “Products”. Guys who pretend they run the streets and act the bad man as so often played out in their videos refreshingly get a lyrical beating on “Hype Boys” which sees Sway switch up his style to a garage paced flow.

While those that picked up the aforementioned mix-tapes may feel a little disappointed that they already own six of the 14 tracks they are still an important inclusion letting those newer fans picking up his material for the first time know what he is all about. The track “Flo Fashion” still raises a smile hearing the tales of finding his own identity while trying to impress girls on his credit card budget with the inevitable overdue bills that follow ’10 red letters in my name but it doesn’t mind/if they phone up I’ll just tell them that I’m colour blind’. “Up Your Speed” is still the call to arms it originally was and the grime flavoured track “Download” touches on a serious subject affecting the music industry but with a comical twist ‘blah blah blah some bloke called Kazaa/that must be the guy whose stealing/everyone’s music I’ma go see him’.

But it’s not all jokes and to make sure he’s not pigeon holed to just throwing out one liners he takes on the role of the abusive other half on “Pretty Ugly Husband”, finding it hard to deal with the paranoia of wifey possibly cheating and battling with the promise to change his aggressive manor. The serious theme continues on the reflective and inspirational “Still On My Own” and on “Slo Down” where nightlife troublemakers get an airing ‘you must have a weak bladder/cos the liquor keeps getting to your head’. “Back For You” sees Sway putting his career first but promising to come back for a special girl, with a sad and abrupt ending.

But despite the seriousness it’s the ability to raise a smile and the need to quote a lyric or particular phrase to your friend that appeals so greatly with Sway and this album. For those getting your first taste of Sway you’ll love and find This Is My Demo a pleasurable experience but for those that have heard the mixtapes you’ll find yourself a little disappointed that your excitement hasn’t been matched. But only because you really want the guy to raise the bar further than the high standard he’s already set, which will happen in due course.

As it is This Is My Demo will open the doors for other UK Hip-Hop artists and be an example that it is possible to make it in a market overcrowded with the next big indie band and too many American rap artists dominating the UK charts. An appealing set of songs for fans of both commercial and conscious Hip-Hop.


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