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Artist Interviews

Profiling Rapper Sway Dasafo

Photograph of the blog post author, Jon



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Rapper Sway

The UK hip-hop scene has been steadily growing in recent years, and one artist who has been at the forefront of this movement is rapper Sway Dasafo. Sway has been making waves in the industry since his debut in 2004. He has since gone on to become a successful British rapper. From his humble beginnings in North London to his current status as an international star, rapper Sway has achieved a remarkable amount in his career.

In this article, we’ll take a look at Sway’s journey from the streets of Nouth London to top of the UK. We will also give you some exclusive interview content.

Overview – Rapper Sway Dafaso

Rapper Sway Dasafo (Derek Andrew Safo) is a British hip hop artist, singer, songwriter, and producer from London. He has been active on the UK music scene since the late 1990s and has released several albums and mixtapes. His music is often described as a mix of hip-hop, grime, and electronic music. He has collaborated with artists such as Kano, Wiley, and Dizzee Rascal. He has also been featured on songs by artists such as Pharrell Williams, Drake, Lady Gaga and T pain.

Sway has won several awards, including a MOBO Award for Best Hip-Hop Act in 2006. He is also known for his work as a social activist and has been involved in a number of charities.

Album This Is My Demo is one of our favourites.

We recently caught up with UK rapper Sway Dafaso to talk all about his recent projects. We talk 5ive 9ine, collaborations (including Punch Back feat. KSI), Sway’s sync success and what’s coming up in the near future.

5ive 9ine

For some casual listeners of your work, they may not realise you’ve been causing a quiet storm behind the scenes and releasing projects under another alias 5ive 9ine! Could you tell us a bit more about 5ive 9ine? What is it and how did it come about?

Yeah, 5ive 9ine is a team project consisting of myself & Turkish-born producer Zagor. We were both born on the 5th of September 1982, which (in the UK) is written as 05/09. That’s how we came up with the name. He’s also a film director and I’ve started writing a few film scripts myself. I always thought about what kind of music I would like placed in my own films. So whatever that is, I’ll just make it and Zagor has a great ear and ability to help the ideas come to life.  

5ive 9ine logo Rapper Sway Dasafo collaboration

How does the creative process work for 5ive 9ine? (We’d love to hear how you and Zagor work together)

It varies, sometimes I’ll come up with a melody and send it to him. Sometimes he’ll send me a beat and I’ll write to it. On occasion, I’ll watch something on say Netflix, Sky or Amazon Prime. This makes me feel compelled to write music based on whatever I just watched. We started with the idea of making a 5 track EP and ended up with 30+ songs lol.

How would you say these projects differ musically from your solo releases such as your critical acclaim album “The Deliverance”?

It’s different but it’s not worlds apart because most of the 5ive9ine stuff is quite empowering and uplifting. Especially after the success of “Still Speedin’”. But then there are some really aggressive rap/rock style records in the 5ive9ine catalogue that aren’t really “Sway Dasafo”. I have to get into character to make those kinds of records. Sometimes I mentally have to go to a pretty dark place but I see it like acting at the end of the day. I’m a performer as well as a writer/ producer.

5ive 9ine Collaborations

Rapper Sway - KSI Collaboration with 5ive 9ine 'Punch Back' feat. KSI

5ive 9ine has collaborated with a range of artists, one being YouTube sensation KSI! How did the track “Punch Back” feat KSI come about?

I actually signed KSI to my record label Dcypha Productions back in 2014 and co-wrote/released his first major hit “Lamborghini”. It’s on like 100 million views now! I’ve been in the background helping him with his music career ever since. He’s like my younger brother and working with him really opened me up to a new world. He had one of the biggest white-collar boxing fights and I was asked to provide music for the event. The idea of “Punch Back” came from that most of the music for that event was by 5ive 9ine. I actually discovered Zagor while looking for beats for KSI’s music and Zagor ended up producing a number of records for KSI with me. 

Are there any other exciting upcoming collaborations that you can shed some light on?

Yeah, some I’ll save for later but I have a few imminent ones like a track called “Be A Champion” with Idris Elba and another artist I had signed to my label called Tiggs Da Author.

Sync Licensing – Rapper Sway Dafaso

Rapper Sway

In the licensing world, you’ve seen successes in projects like Netflix’s “Iron Fist”, the Ubisoft video game “Farcry Bowmore” and more recently Sky One’s series “Bulletproof”. What do you think it is about your creative process that brings those sorts of brands knocking at your door?

I’ve always been told that I have an empowering and commanding voice; from early on in my career. I also love epic-sounding music. Even when I went behind the scenes and started signing and executive producing other artists, I was constantly being contacted by producers for rapper Sway Dasafo vocals. I’m now at a place in my life where I’m so free creatively and I don’t have the pressure of having to make a hit record and so I can afford to experiment more. I love film and music so any projects that require me to combine the two naturally bring out a desire to deliver at a high level. Hans Zimmer needs to make a little space for me, I’m really on this ha. 

What would be your top tip to upcoming, as well as established artists and producers who are looking to secure sync placements?

I would say don’t force it, make something impactful but don’t feel the need to use every trick in the book. Also don’t overproduce or make songs too specific (About your girlfriend Laura etc), be artistic lyrically and consider how you would use the songs in a film or advert etc. Syncs are not guaranteed though! I feel like I’ve just been getting luckier and luckier because I let go of the expectation of getting sync and just wanna make impactful and powerful stuff. There are some really open-minded music supervisors out there and all they want is GREAT songs to work with.

Rapper Sway Dasafo: Solo Career

Rapper Sway

In relation to your solo career and fans of Sway Dasafo, what can your new and existing fans expect from you in the future?

The best is yet to come, you know I have over 100 unreleased tracks and that’s new ones. Like, these songs have come to me during the best days of my life so far; becoming a father has really boosted my drive musically and every time I go into the studio I just wanna write something that my kids would grow up and be proud of. I’m really winning this for them.

As an artist, seeing success and longevity in the Music Industry for over a decade is an amazing achievement that not many can claim! What is your secret to keeping inspired, consistently releasing quality music and making your new music sound fresh and appealing to your core fans as well as the newer, younger audience?

I guess for me it’s been my ability to do different things. It’s a gift and sometimes a disadvantage, there’s a lot of false information in regard to UK rap achievements out there. I was first in a lot of things but because many of my achievements weren’t that well publicised (no Insta back in 2006), others sometimes claim those achievements. Where this works to my advantage is I can morph and reinvent, I’ve worked with many different people from Ed Sheeran, and Childish Gambino to Kaiser Chiefs & Mark Ronson and because I’m known for my versatility, my random collabs are never really questioned.

New Reign

New Reign Distribution Rapper Sway Dasafo Music Logo

You’re a very busy guy! As well as your solo releases, 5ive 9ine projects and behind-the-scenes credits, you must also be busy with your label and production company, New Reign. How is that going and what’s in store for the near future?

Ah, now ‘New Reign’ is the now AND the future. It’s basically a growing production team, a stable of some of the world’s best writers and producers (IMO). We are creating tonnes of great songs and developing the stars of this decade. I’m so excited to roll this stuff out, it’s all unfolding gradually.

Our Top Sway Dafaso Tracks

Summary – Rapper Sway Dafaso

Sway Dasafo is an inspiring artist who is making a name for himself in the music industry. His unique blend of afrobeats and hip-hop, and his socially conscious lyrics make him stand out from other artists. He is an inspiration to many and is sure to continue to make a mark in the industry.

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