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Born September 5, 1982 (1982-09-05) (age 27)
Origin Ghana
Genres British hip hop, grime
Years active 2004–present
Labels Konvict, DCypha
Associated acts Chamillionaire, Lemar, Lupe Fiasco, Akon, Pyrelli, Karl Hinds, Mr Hudson, Two Fingers

Derek Andrew Safo (born 5 September 1982) is a English hip hop artist of Ghanaian origins, who uses the stage names Sway DaSafo or simply Sway; he is also a full-time producer, establishing DCypha Productions.





His mother had traveled 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 was born to a Muslim father and to a christian mother. Sway attended Redlands Primary School where he spent most of his time experimenting with music, rewriting the lyrics of his favorite artists. He attended Highgate Wood Secondary School in North London where 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 humor with his lyrical talent.[1] Sway is the cousin of former Arsenal footballer Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, who is currently playing for Portsmouth F.C..

Early career

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.[1]

Sway produced many solo singles despite being in a rap group and his first break was under the name 'Sway DaSafo' on the track "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.[1]


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.[1] 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 friend Bigz.

Sway launched his solo career upon the disbanding of his group One by releasing 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 song "Hype Boys" is used in the video game Need for Speed: Carbon, and the song "Flo Fashion" is used in the video game FIFA Street 2. To coincide with the release of his debut album, Sway released a collaboration mixtape with LoveDough to promote LoveDough's nightclub in Newcastle upon Tyne. The compilation mixtape, called This Is My Rave, featured Pyrelli and Bigz, amongst other UK hip hop and R&B artists.

His debut has become controversial amongst UK hip hop artists due to his criticism of many modern rap artists "overhyping" 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. He also argued against the use of nigger in hip hop and R&B songs on an appearance on Sky News.

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' single "Harvey Nicks" alongside The Streets' Mike Skinner.

Second album

Following the release and critical acclaim of his debut album, Sway started recording his second album which he had been planning from the This Is My Promo mixtape series. In the run up to the album's release, Sway featured on numerous songs and signed to Akon's Konvict Muzik record label in 2007, becoming the only UK artist to be signed to the label. Sway released the One for the Journey EP on May 14, 2007 on his DCypha Productions label which featured an appearance from Chamillionaire on a Part 2 version of "Up Your Speed". Following this, Sway released two mixtapes: The Dotted Lines and The Signature mixtape. The Dotted Lines mixtape was released in early 2008 and announced the recording of his second album. It was released to coincide with the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, which was hosted in Ghana and to which the song "Black Stars", a remix of "Black Boys" by Bashy, is dedicated. The mixtape featured an interview with Sway Calloway of Sway & King Tech where Calloway argues that Sway DaSafo should not use the name Sway as it affects his reputation. It was announced on the mixtape that his second album The Signature LP would be released on May 5, 2008, however it was pushed back to October 6, 2008. The album included the song "F UR X" featuring $tush which was included on The Dotted Lines mixtape. Due to its success, it was decided that a music video should be produced and that it should be included on the new album. To coincide with the release of the album, Sway put up The Signature mixtape for download on his website.

During the recording of his second album, Sway diversified into other musical genres by featuring on songs with other British artists. In 2007, Sway collaborated with Madness to produce the song "Sorry" which also featured Baby Blue. This collaboration with the ska band was sparked by lead singer Suggs who read an interview with Sway in which he credits Madness as being an influence in his music career. Sway also produced a remix to Ian Brown's "Illegal Attacks" in 2007 and the remix was released along with the song on September 17, 2007. Maintaining an influence in the UK rock and indie rock scene, Sway featured on the remix of Mr Hudson & The Library's "Ask The DJ", which was released in 2006. A more recent collaboration is that with Kaiser Chiefs on the song "Half the Truth" off their album Off with Their Heads, released October 20, 2008. Sway also diversified into the dance music scene with his collaboration with Stanton Warriors on the track "Get 'Em High", which was featured on the One for the Journey EP. He also featured as the sole vocalist on "The Way We Go" which was produced by Jukey in May 2008. Nevertheless, Sway continued to work on hip hop collaborations such as his feature on "Chatterbox", produced by DJ Yoda and released on The Amazing Adventures of DJ Yoda in October 2006.

"F UR X" was included on the soundtrack to the UK film Adulthood prior to the release of The Signature LP. The first single to be released from the album was "Saturday Night Hustle" featuring Lemar, which was poorly accepted and peaked at number 67 in the UK charts. The next single to be released from the album is "Silver and Gold" featuring Akon. On the week beginning 2 February 2009, "Silver & Gold" peaked at number 76, coincidentally one place above Sam Sparro's Black and Gold.

In 2007, Sway offered his support to a development project in Sierra Leone, which he visited with Dawn Angeliqué Richard and Samata Angel.

Sway also worked with Cash Money Records where he sang with Jay Sean in the re-fix of Jay's "I Won't Tell", which is a part of Jay Sean's album My Own Way: Deluxe Edition in 2008. He replaces The Kid Daytona from the original song and also sings a different verse.


In early 2009, it was announced that production of Sway's third studio album, The Signature LP 2, had started. He has revealed that he is working with acts such as Craig David, Neutrino, Jay Sean and Liverpool football player Ryan Babel.

On television, he played himself in the episode "Video Killed the Radio Star" of the TV series FM during which he performed "Say It Twice", which was aired during March 2009. In May 2009, Sway performed "The Phatso Dance" with Soccer AM's Tubes, and a cameo from Chris Kamara - it is unclear whether this will be released as a single. The song involved "Kammy" rapping "unbelieveable" every couple of seconds late on.

On March 26th 2009, Sway collaborated with Two Fingers to release an album named Two Fingers. Sway was the main lyricist on the album featuring on 7 of the twelve tracks and helping out with production.

On June 26, 2009, the day after Michael Jackson's death, BBC Radio 1 in the UK played a Michael Jackson tribute song called "The King. Full Stop". The song featured a stripped down arrangement with only Sway's vocal and an acoustic guitar. No plans have been announced to release the song as a single or to include this song on his forthcoming album. BBC Radio 1Xtra premièred a new track by UK rap artist Bigfoot entitled "Feel Like A King" which featured Sway on July 24, 2009.

Sway also worked on track for DJ Semtex entitled Nelson Lives to coincide with the anniversary of Mandela's release from prison. Other free internet songs by Sway that have been released during 2009 include a remix to Jay-Z's "Run This Town", "Jerusalem" which was unveiled under the name of MC Nobody as well as "Blackberry Man" which may be featured on the upcoming The Signature LP 2. The first single off the album, "Mercedes-Benz", was released on October 19, 2009.[2]

Sway announced on 2 August 2009 on Westwood Rap Show on BBC 1Xtra that after The Signature 2 he will be working on his first worldwide release, Signed Sealed Delivered on Akon's Konvict label. No other information is available at present.

The Delivery Mixtape

In December 2009, Sway announced that he was working on a new mixtape, and unveiling two tracks in the process: "Payback" and "The Watcher". Sway then released a download-only single on iTunes named "Everyday Valentine" to coincide with Valentine's Day in 2010. He offered those who were able to provide evidence for purchasing the single the opportunity to receive his mixtape prior to its release for free. The mixtape was due to be released on February 14, 2010, however this was pushed back due to continued work by Akon on the final song. The mixtape was released on February 26, 2010 from his website, to the public for free. It has been described online as 'better than most people's albums' and will feature Akon, Styles P, Kardinal Offishall, Giggs, Bigz and Mr Hudson. The Mixtape has been a smash hit online, boasting over 10,000 downloads in 10 days, both with the fans, other artists and critics and was reviewed by British Newspaper Metro who picked up on Sway's "trademark sharp humour and quirky observations" going on to say that Sway "will reign over British rap sooner rather than later."


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, defeating 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 and Best UK Male for the MOBO awards held at the end of September 2006[3] and in September 2008 for Best UK Male.[4]

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.[5]

In 2008, Sway was nominated for two awards at the Urban Music Awards.

In November 2006, Sway won a BET Hip-Hop Award for "Best UK Hip-Hop Act", beating Blak Twang, Plan B, Dizzee Rascal and Kano. By being nominated and winning the BET for "BEST UK Hip-Hop Act", Sway appeared in a video showing himself in a cipher with Saigon, Remy Ma, and Rhymefest freestyling on a rooftop in New York. The freestyle was featured on The Dotted Lines mixtape.


Albums and EPs


  • This Is My Promo Vol. 1 (2004, DCypha)
  • This Is My Promo Vol. 2 (DCypha)
  • This Is My Rave (2006)
  • The Dotted Lines Mixtape (DCypha)
  • The Signature LP Mixtape (DCypha)
  • The Delivery Mixtape (DCypha)

With the group One

  • Onederful World (2002, self-released)


External links


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