SwaVay states his biggest goal: “Just going to sleep every night and comfortably knowing that there’s a conversation being had at that moment of ‘who’s the best rappers of all time?’ And I’m somewhere in that list. You talk about the best rappers of all time right now, we gon’ say the same 6 names. Maybe 5 even. I’ll be able to go to sleep knowing damn, someone’s having that conversation and I’m in it.”
His other goals? To win a Grammy, and to own his own record label one day.
Born and raised in Atlanta, SwaVay prides himself in being his own unique sound, with the ability to switch between singing and rapping whenever he feels like it. And while Atlanta may be the hub to all the hottest in hip-hop as of late, SwaVay reminds us he’s a lyricist, and he takes his rhymes very seriously.
The true opposite of one-dimensional, SwaVay describes himself using the adjectives: “opinionated, passionate, annoying.” He adds “I’m big annoying, because I’m passionate. You have to be. Everybody that’s great is a little annoying.”
Fast forward to today, SwaVay celebrates his new venture with Def Jam. Fans can expect a full project titled Almetha’s Son arriving in September, spearheaded by lead singles “JUGG” and “Faces.”
AllHipHop caught up with SwaVay in downtown Los Angeles to discuss his journey to Def Jam how his sound has evolved, love for hooping, the success of “2AM,” relationship with James Blake, forthcoming project, and more!
AllHipHop: How have you been since the last time we chatted?
SwaVay: I’ve been good. My life’s different. I was with Republic, now I’m here [Def Jam]. I’m 25 now. I met you when I was 22 or 23, that was 2019. It’s cool, I feel like I’m a better artist now. I have a way better understanding of who I am as an artist. Before, when I first met you, I still was finding myself. I knew where I wanted to go, I just didn’t know what that looked like. But now I’m ready to go.
AllHipHop: How have you evolved as an artist, or sonically maybe?
SwaVay: Sonically, when I first met you 2019, I was trying to find that balance between being hard, making hard rap. Not trap, but just making sure that my sh*t still hits hard. While I was still coming from that boom bap s### I love, but now I found that balance. That’s on the sonics, and I have way more direction. I know what I want to talk about, every project.
AllHipHop: When I met you, you were assigned to Metro Boomin. Do you feel that hard-hitting trap influence came from him too?
SwaVay: It definitely played a part. Metro’s s### was so crazy because I’d go to the studio, this is when Gunna was just coming up. You go to the studio and Gunna will play something on the aux, Metro will play some sht. F###, Future just came in. He plays some sht. F###, Thug just came he plays some sh*t.
Now, it’s my turn to play some sht. It’s not really as hard-hitting. The Metro sht definitely played a part in it, but still a lot of it was just me figuring sh*t out. Figuring out what the f### I wanted.
AllHipHop: How would you describe your sound now?
SwaVay: My sound now, currently, is very artistically Atlanta. I like to think I’m unapologetic. I think you can walk away from the music now and tell I’m intentional and that I definitely give a f###.
AllHipHop: You still in the A?
SwaVay: Of course. I’ll never move out here.
AllHipHop: It doesn’t have to be here, but anywhere else.
SwaVay: I’ll move somewhere else, but LA ain’t it. It’s too much going on. I would never want to be this close to the industry, ever.
AllHipHop: I feel like Atlanta has the biggest hip-hop scene coming out right now.
SwaVay: Facts, we were just talking about that. Atlanta’s cool. Atlanta’s changing for sure. It’s crazy to see it now as a grown ass man. Damn, this place that I grew up is changing right now. I like it. My reception from Atlanta now is a lot more accepting and I f### with that. Because before, I don’t think Atlanta wanted to hear a lyricist. Now, people will be like “oh nah, he rap for real. He’s actually hard as f**k too.” That’s what I would say Atlanta’s like right now.
AllHipHop: Talk about boom bap, who are the lyricists that you like?
SwaVay: Right now, or of all-time? JID is incredible. JID got it for me, I really respect where JID is. He’s talented as f**k. I was watching him, I was with him when he was recording his new s### he’s finna put out. It made him appreciate him even more as a rapper, because he can actually rap.
AllHipHop: Rap hella fast.
SwaVay: Rap hella fast! Facts.
AllHipHop: Y’all got music?
SwaVay: Absolutely. We have some s###. It’s just that me and my him are so focused on what the f### we are working on, it’s hard to lock in how we want to.
AllHipHop: You were hooping too back home right?
SwaVay: Yeah. I just played basketball on Sunday, I got a back spasm. So my whole yesterday was ass.
AllHipHop: You nice with it though?
SwaVay: Of course! I don’t hoop like a rapper either. I hoop like a basketball player. You know how rappers hoop… you watch the celebrity All-Star game? It’s all b#######.
AllHipHop: “2AM” has 10 million streams on Spotify, how does that feel?
SwaVay: It’s weird because it’s like…
AllHipHop: You gotta be excited though…
SwaVay: Nah it’s lit. My Distrokid checks is lit, fasho. It’s weird because it’s not really a song I like, to be honest.
AllHipHop: That happens with a lot of artists, their biggest songs are s### they don’t like.
SwaVay: But people really like that fking song. And I’m glad they like it because like I said, my Distrokid s### is fking lit bruh. I’ll show you the s### after this interview, you’ll be like “aw s###, this n*gga is having his way.”
AllHipHop: Just with the independent success off one song, what made you decide to go with Def Jam?
SwaVay: I know Tunji really well. He said “bro, I’m about to do this.” I thought “you know what, I’m always down to be a flagship with some s###. F**k it, I trust you let’s go.” And now we’re at Def Jam.
AllHipHop: Just like that?
SwaVay: Nah, hell no. This sh*t took so f**king long. I was having some situations before. Even my past label situation, I left. I said alright, I’ma figure this sh*t out. Redefine myself and figure out what the f### SwaVay looks like. Not only in the future, but just for myself, right then in that moment. Tunji was there, really was behind the music. He said “bro, come on over here. Let’s go.” I said “f### it!”
AllHipHop: How’s the journey been so far?
SwaVay: It’s been good. It’s just tiring as f**k. The label sh*t… listen bro.
AllHipHop: It’s a full-time job!
SwaVay: It is. It’s one of those things where you literally have to be born for that sh*t. There’s a lot of people who said that this is what they want, and they realize “oh f**k no, this is some whole other sh*t.” It’s a lot. It’s a lot of opinions. It’s a lot of sh*t that don’t matter.
SwaVay: Yeah politics, that matter but it really don’t matter. It’s a lot, you have to consider. But at the same time, we don’t give a f###. I genuinely don’t. You can’t, if you want your music to stay how it is when you know the industry first got a hold of you. When people start giving a f**k too much about this sh*t is ass all of a sudden.
AllHipHop: Or they get lazy.
SwaVay: Facts, or just fall out of love with this sh*t.
AllHipHop: Why do they call you Billy?
SwaVay: My nickname’s Billy. My mom used to say this sh*t like, ‘you gon’ think your Billy Badass, until you meet Billy Badass and Billy badass whoop your ass.” Then you realize “Oh, I like to read or some s###.” I wasn’t bad, I was just such an inquisitive kid. She’s like “you might just really keep Billy,” so that’s where I got the nickname.
AllHipHop: You got “Faces” arriving end of the month, what can we expect from that record?
SwaVay: You want the lie or the truth? The same s### you see on TikTok. I actually really like this song a lot. It couldn’t get cleared at first. I hate to sound so corny when I say this, TikTok really took my s### up outta there.
AllHipHop: Wait so what happened? You posted a snippet?
SwaVay: I posted on TikTok. Me and my videographer Connor shot a music video for that s###, just for TikTok. That sh*t took off and it shifted everything. We gotta drop “Faces” now! I made a whole music video just for TikTok. It was shot vertically and all that, we really made the music video for TikTok. Because I knew it wasn’t going to get cleared, so I said f**k it.
AllHipHop: What was the TikTok of?
SwaVay: Some corny s###. I go to this girl’s house and try to get her to come outside, but she’s not interested.
AllHipHop: What sample is it?
SwaVay: Knxwledge the producer. He does s### with Anderson .Paak.
AllHipHop: You’re dropped it regular, even though you made it for TikTok?
SwaVay: We did some sh*t to it. We made it more original, so we didn’t have to go through my boy. The same s### though.
AllHipHop: Did you know it was gonna take off on TikTok?
SwaVay: No. When we put it out, it was like f**k it.
Videographer: It took a few days. Now it has over 3 million views. But it didn’t pop off until a day and a half later.
SwaVay: Facts. It had 6,000 views for the first day and a half. But out of nowhere, s### went [claps 3x].
AllHipHop: Were you poppin on TikTok before that?
SwaVay: F### no. I’m still not poppin’ on TikTok. I don’t even know how that sh*t. I know how TikTok works, but I don’t know how to get poppin’ on TikTok. It seems like an impossible job. “Faces” one of them songs that showcases who I am. I sing, I rap. “Faces” is that song.
AllHipHop: Why did you call it “Faces”?
SwaVay: Because it’s my exchange in f**king faces. I didn’t want to call it “F###### Faces,” but “Faces” just sounded sweet.
AllHipHop: What can we expect from your new album, Ametha’s Sun, in September?
SwaVay: Just a really personable album. You smooth it out, and you can walk away from it, like ‘Oh, I know who SwaVay is. I love SwaVay. I know where he comes from, I know what he’s about. I know how he feels about certain things. It’s really personal. It’s not dense, but it’s personable.
AllHipHop: How does your mom feel about it?
SwaVay: She’s old. She likes it — she gets it, but not really though. She’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah that’s cool, SwaVay released an album… did you eat today?’ You know what I mean? She doesn’t really give a f**k.
AllHipHop: What’s the story behind the title?
SwaVay: My mom, it was just me and her growing up. You can listen to all my other music, walk away from it and be like, ‘Oh wow he’s really talented, but I know nothing about Swavay.” So it’s self-titled in a way. You listen to it like, ‘Oh no.” I might as well have named it Andre, that’s my real name.
AllHipHop: Do we have any features?
SwaVay: Absolutely. Not a lot though.
AllHipHop: Can we get a sneak peek?
SwaVay: James Blake. [laughs]
AllHipHop: Of course!
SwaVay: Facts. James is always on my s###.
AllHipHop: Producing or singing?
AllHipHop: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
SwaVay: B#######. Nothing. I would be doing nothing. Watch Westworld. Get on TikTok, YouTube.
AllHipHop: What would you be watching on YouTube?
SwaVay: Mr. Beast. You don’t even watch nothing, so you don’t know who Mr. Beast is. Oh my goodness. I don’t even know how to describe…
Videographer: Have you ever see the dude that did Squid Games in real life? He gave away all that money and s###.
SwaVay: He makes a million dollars every year. Mr. Beast is lit!
AllHipHop: Where does he get the million dollars?
SwaVay: YouTube. He’s that lit. He’ll be like, “If you run from here to there, I’ll give you $100K.” Mr. Beast is lit.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
SwaVay: You need to get on the f**king TV. Euphoria is crazy…