Then, freestyle legend Juice spins an autobiographical tale about his storied hip-hop career on the moving “Ill Hip-Hop.” “When Juice wrote this record, it was so sincere,” says Sway, who is also an MTV News correspondent. “I thought that it was the most honest record that I’ve heard from the dude in a long time. Records like that, when it’s truly sincere, it is needed and we want people to hear it.”
The same can be said for “Don’t Think So,” a thought-provoking cut from West Coast rap legend Kam. With a political edge and insight, the Watts rapper discusses everything from governmental transgressions to California’s lack of support for its own artists.
“The Kam record is very important to me and to rap,” Sway explains. “There’s so much variety that the West Coast has to offer that doesn’t get exposure. So for Kam to come out, make a conscious record, do it well and do it in a way that it can be heard, it’s very significant because nobody’s thinking in music anymore. When you hear it, it hits your brain and bounces off. Kam made a record that you listen to. You don’t just nod your head or dance to it. It’s a very important record and records like this need to be made.”
Elsewhere, Self Scientific discuss the plight of Cubans and Haitians on the powerful “Better Days” and Crooked I salutes what he loves about the hood on “I Love The Ghetto To Death.” Newcomers Kallihan (“We Don’t Give A”), Dirty Birdy (“23 Degrees”) and Verb & Rock (“Wave Your Hands”) all deliver jams that highlight their lyrical deftness.
In order to give fans a glimpse into the world of the artists on Back 2 Basics, Sway & King Tech will package a free DVD with the album. “Everybody has their own thing that they’re bringing to the table,” King Tech says. “Nobody sounds the same. Each person is a superhero in their own way.”
That’s what Back 2 Basics is all about, giving talented MCs with a passion for delivering mind-moving music an opportunity to flex their skills to the world. “If we can get the public used to hearing something that we consider to be quality, I think that it will benefit the rap game all together,” Sway says. “If it does well, it’s going to help open the door of innovation and expansion.”
For more than a decade, Sway & King Tech have been innovating and expanding. Launched in 1991, the Wake Up Show is now the most listened to rap radio show on the planet. The show is heard by 11 million listeners every week. Sway & King Tech’s Freestyles albums are eight volumes strong, and through their company, Bolo Entertainment, they have released albums, DVDs, and hosted concerts. In 1999, they released the acclaimed This Or That album, which featured the landmark single “The Anthem,” which featured Eminem and Chino XL, among others. Since then, Sway has become one of the most significant personalities at MTV. All of their accomplishments have helped set the stage for Back 2 Basics.
“Projects like this will come out to balance a lot of this cookie cutter, quick-fix music that is out” Sway says. “We’ve been able to gather a lot of people who care about the art. These people are making music that will stand the test of time. Our thing isn’t to become rich. We just want to create things that are rich in quality on behalf of the culture.”
No wonder they went Back 2 Basics.