Like most UK hip hop acts, Sway is a workaholic.
Tom Young 2008
Like most UK hip hop acts, Sway is a workaholic. Mixtapes and MySpace appearances ensured that even after his emphatic entrance on debut, This Is My Demo, Derek Safo never slipped beneath the radar. Recent freestyles have cited his craving to crack it across the pond and few would deny there is a UK rapper worthier of the US dollar.
The album bristles with initial bravado; Fit For A King is a military cry produced with cinematic grandeur. The combination of an assured narrator, gospel choir, a tough electric guitar riff and Sway's slick, breathy flow make for one of the most dramatic hip hop album entrances of recent years. It's topped off with a melting saxophone outro, which you can only salute.
More ego-massaging comes in Say It Twice before Saturday Night Hustle drags you to the dancefloor. With Lemar drilling the days of the week into your head, initial attempts to resist this glitzy commercial tune will prove futile. The album then flits to the heavy on dub F Ur Ex and the heavy on wit Jason Waste – a terrific tale of a human failings – before temporarily collapsing in a heap with the timid R 'n' B parp, Look After My Girl.
Throughout The Signature LP, Sway impressively matches the wide array of beats and styles with a mix of subject matters varying in gravity. He handles the delicate, and evidently personal subjects of loss and bereavement passionately in Pray 4 Kaya and Letters To Heaven and delivers a tasty broadside to anyone who believes in tackling problems aggressively on Walk Away - no doubt a dig at US rapping rivals. But best of all is when Sway takes the industry to task, on both the grimey Stereo and the frenzied Upload which paints a perfect picture as to how a UK hip hop artists earns a crust in the current climate.
Even with a couple of duff moments, this album feels just as important as his breakthrough LP. As we've witnessed with Roots Manuva, TY and Dizzee Rascal, UK hip hop is playing to its strengths by producing albums that are the sum of their parts. This is 13 tracks that work together and deserve to be listened to from start to finish.