Sway & King Tech Biography
With Back 2 Basics, their second album, Sway & Tech show that their ear for talent is sharp as ever. Respected veteran acts such as Common, Royce Da 5’9’’, Kam and Canibus are featured, as are up-and-comers Chino XL, Sly Boogy, Crooked I, Kallihan, Self Scientific, Dirty Birdy and Verb & Rock. By featuring such supremely talented rappers over blistering beats by some of hip-hop’s best beatsmiths, Sway & King Tech have provided a platform for talented lyricists to shine.
“The title Back 2 Basics is us going back to an era where the lyrics came first,” King Tech explains. “I wanted to go get guys that are hungry, that still have the talent, that are upcoming or that are just on a veteran level as opposed to just going after platinum artists to just stack up the names. It wasn’t about that for us. You can have Eminem who has his own fan base, but let’s try to find the next Eminem, find the next talent that’s coming up and try to break something with this one.”
Back 2 Basic fulfills that goal on every track. Royce Da 5’9’’, Chino XL and Canibus unite on “I Wish You Would,” an explosive lyrical boast session produced by Kwame (Lloyd Banks’ “On Fire”) that highlights each rapper’s distinctive brand of braggadocio. Chino XL also shines on the clever solo cut “Watch Closer,” where he showcases his humorous punchlines and effortless delivery.
Then, freestyle legend Juice spins an autobiographical tale about his storied hip-hop career on the moving “Ill Hip-Hop.” “When Juice wrote this record, it was so sincere,” says Sway, who is also an MTV News correspondent. “I thought that it was the most honest record that I’ve heard from the dude in a long time. Records like that, when it’s truly sincere, it is needed and we want people to hear it.”
The same can be said for “Don’t Think So,” a thought-provoking cut from West Coast rap legend Kam. With a political edge and insight, the Watts rapper discusses everything from governmental transgressions to California’s lack of support for its own artists.
“The Kam record is very important to me and to rap,” Sway explains. “There’s so much variety that the West Coast has to offer that doesn’t get exposure. So for Kam to come out, make a conscious record, do it well and do it in a way that it can be heard, it’s very significant because nobody’s thinking in music anymore. When you hear it, it hits your brain and bounces off. Kam made a record that you listen to. You don’t just nod your head or dance to it. It’s a very important record and records like this need to be made.”
Elsewhere, Self Scientific discuss the plight of Cubans and Haitians on the powerful “Better Days” and Crooked I salutes what he loves about the hood on “I Love The Ghetto To Death.” Newcomers Kallihan (“We Don’t Give A”), Dirty Birdy (“23 Degrees”) and Verb & Rock (“Wave Your Hands”) all deliver jams that highlight their lyrical deftness.
In order to give fans a glimpse into the world of the artists on Back 2 Basics, Sway & King Tech will package a free DVD with the album. “Everybody has their own thing that they’re bringing to the table,” King Tech says. “Nobody sounds the same. Each person is a superhero in their own way.”
That’s what Back 2 Basics is all about, giving talented MCs with a passion for delivering mind-moving music an opportunity to flex their skills to the world. “If we can get the public used to hearing something that we consider to be quality, I think that it will benefit the rap game all together,” Sway says. “If it does well, it’s going to help open the door of innovation and expansion.”
For more than a decade, Sway & King Tech have been innovating and expanding. Launched in 1991, the Wake Up Show is now the most listened to rap radio show on the planet. The show is heard by 11 million listeners every week. Sway & King Tech’s Freestyles albums are eight volumes strong, and through their company, Bolo Entertainment, they have released albums, DVDs, and hosted concerts. In 1999, they released the acclaimed This Or That album, which featured the landmark single “The Anthem,” which featured Eminem and Chino XL, among others. Since then, Sway has become one of the most significant personalities at MTV. All of their accomplishments have helped set the stage for Back 2 Basics.
“Projects like this will come out to balance a lot of this cookie cutter, quick-fix music that is out” Sway says. “We’ve been able to gather a lot of people who care about the art. These people are making music that will stand the test of time. Our thing isn’t to become rich. We just want to create things that are rich in quality on behalf of the culture.”
No wonder they went Back 2 Basics.