‘Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness’ – Maya Angelou
Music is undeniably one of my biggest passions which I don’t get chance to wrote about nearly enough. That’s my own fault really because I don’t listen to as much new stuff as I used to. I’m in my mid 30s now whilst I still listen to radio 1 to keep up with what the kids are into these days I pretty much know what I like and stick with it. I’m nothing if not loyal
Every now and then an artist comes along who changes the way you listen to music. For me, UK rapper Sway is one of those people. I’d been of fan of the track Saturday Night Hustle he did with Lemar in 2008 and then the song Level Up released in 2012 which still remains on my running playlist to this day.
His 2015 Album Deliverance very quickly earned a spot on my top ten albums of all time so needless to say I’ve been itching to hear some new material.
Praise be to the rap gods that Sway released Verses from the Vault volumes 1 and 2 and as the name suggests; whilst not strictly an album of new material, it’s actually 2 albums of previously unreleased material. So, new to me, and that’s all that counts.
One of the things I love most about Sway, and artists like him (namely Childish Gambino) is that their content isn’t your stereotypical ‘money cash hoes’ that you might expect from someone from a rap/grime artist from North London. It’s much, much deeper than that. In fact, the only thing Sway really boasts about, is his work ethic. And in a country of zero hours contracts and ‘discouraged workers’ being at an all time high, is that something we should really be criticizing someone for?
Had I not known (and it not being glaringly obvious from the title) that this was a collection of previously unreleased songs of yore, I would have firmly and happily believed that Verses from the Vaults was a brand new album as it stands up valiantly next to Deliverance. The albums are split between Sway’s two heritages; volume 1 a tribute to his Ghanaian roots and volume 2 a nod to his London upbringing.
Stand out tracks for me are King, a beautifully articulated dedication to Michael Jackson, Mirror, a dedication to his daughter (I’m guessing) which in these times of misogynistic american presidents and clubs of elitist British aristocrats perving over waitresses, is refreshing to hear and Topboy, partly because it’s mostly clever lyrics against a very simple beat but mostly because he references Rugrats. Which is my all time favourite cartoon. Ever.
If you haven’t heard Sway before it’s hard to describe his style because he’s not really anyone who can be pigeonholed. Some tracks like Still Speedin from Deliverance and Prince from Verses from the Vault 2 wouldn’t be out of place in Chase & Status set (or on the A list on Radio 1 in my opinion) yet there are songs like Never Enough (from Verses from the Vault 1) which are so lyrically intricate that you have to stop everything you’re doing to take it all in. For me Sway has always been the perfect gym or sun lounger album. And by that I don’t by any means that it’s throwaway music. What I mean is it’s music you want to listen to when you can really devote your time to the poetry with no distractions
Honorable mention has to go to instrumental track Letter which, even as one of life’s lyrics girls, even I can see that this piece of music should be on a film soundtrack without delay.
If this is the quality of stuff that Sway just has in his back pocket that he was saving for a rainy day then it makes me so excited to hear brand new material. Perhaps he might even be inspired to write a song about the palest and blondest girl in England being his biggest fan? Or at the very least let me to sing the hook to Level Up when does the live shows he’s promised me later this year…..
You can download Verses from the Vault from Apple Music and Spotify now – do it!