Album Reviews

Sway – This Is My Demo

(Dcypha) UK release date: 6 February 2006

Sway - This Is My Demo 2005 was a good year for Derek Dasafo, aka Sway, as the unsigned act had a Brit Award added to his Mobo Award for best hip-hop. Since shooting to prominence the British urban music world has been waiting for the polished product to be unleashed. The result is the rather aptly titled This Is My Demo, 12 tracks fighting against Dizzee Rascal and Kano for the throne of the UK’s urban scene.

Those who haven’t heard any of the product behind the hype can be eased into the album with the title track and intro. The grimey vibe and Sway’s gunshot rhyme delivery soon become almost mesmerising with lyrics combining both English and Arabic. It’s certainly a good start.

It’s let down by the more lackadaisical Products, but Hype Boys pulls it back with a fly on the wall look at the world of ‘studio gangsters’, bad attitudes and a closer look at reality. “Some places in Britain ain’t the place to raise your child/ ‘Cause even the royal family ain’t all smiles/ ‘Cause everybody knows Harry doesn’t look like Charles” may be a little controversial, but it’s a refreshing outlook.

Little Derek slows things down a bit with a look at the results of the US dominated hip-hop industry: “‘Cause when you do UK rap you’re number two/ ‘Cause the USA ain’t giving us space to break through.” Baby Blue adds a female perspective with enough to presence to suggest she could be up to competing with Lady Sovereign. Flo Fashion was the track that won Sway his Urban Music Award and it is fitting that his breakthrough sits comfortably alongside his newer, more polished work.

The anthemic Up Your Speed is a bit of a cheesy shout out to the whole of the UK with the moral content provided with the line “but please don’t kill anybody”. It would be sincere if it wasn’t so out of place in the track, but it’s a proper headbanger. Download is a hilarious condemning look at illegal MP3 download with the personification of Kazaa, coupled with more serious questions of how artists can make money with people getting their music free.

Unfortunately the tail end of the album disappoints, with only Still On My Own standing out from the other tracks which switch to an awkward UK Garage/R&B hybrid. But the probing lyrics of Still On My Own give an in depth look into Sway’s early days of hustling CDs and of battles of faith. Month in theSummer might well be a success later this year – but it will quickly grind you down to your last nerve. 

It’s a disappointing way to end what started off with some touches of brilliance in the content and production. Which is testament to Sway’s talents in front of the mic and at the production table. But there’s a feeling that This Is My Demo is just geared too much towards the commercial audience. That’s something the aforementioned Kano and Dizzee can’t be accused of.

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More on Sway
Sway – One For The Journey EP
Sway – This Is My Demo