Can This Man Sway The UK?

Scott Hammond

His album cover tells a story in itself. A young man stands in black and white, with tower blocks on either side. The only thing that is in colour is the Union Jack bandana that he is wearing proudly across his face, masking his nose and mouth. Standing with his hands clasped, this is the face of 23-year-old Derek  'Sway' Safo.


Sway, who is of Ghanaian decent (hence the flag he's hidden in), was born in Hornsey, north London after his mother came back from a holiday in Amsterdam. He spent most of his young life at his birthplace and, as a teenager, had a fondness for mimicking his favourite rappers, changing their words to suit his own style. But Sway confesses on his website that he never wanted to rap:  "My forte was production but people kept demanding to hear me rap. I started thinking that these people were trying to tell me my beats were rubbish."

My forte was production but people kept demanding to hear me rap. I started thinking that these people were trying to tell me my beats were rubbish."



Sway portrait
At the tender age of 16, Sway took to the open mic tournaments set up in clubs in his area. As his ability to rap grew, so did his ambition. As a member of a rap trio to the name of Phynix Crew, where his career really took off. After a short stint in the group, he began concentrating on himself. In 2003,


Sway launched himself onto other artists mix tapes all over London, building a reputation for himself. He became a well known artist on the underground circuit, and in 2004, created his own Production Company, and record label Dcypha.

He used this as a way of promoting his two mix tapes, entitled This Is My Promo Vol. 1and This Is My Promo Vol. 2. The mix tapes sold well..  "We did over 13,000. The bulk of them were sold in the UK with 60% being sold in London" said Sway on an interview with Maxine Headley of

Sway also appeared in The Streets produced Mitchell Brothers song Harvey Nicks, producing some humorous lyrics including being mistaken for the singer Lemar and slapping an Member of Parliament.
In 2005, he was showered with awards, even though he was still an unsigned artist. The rappers biggest achievement was winning  'Best Hip Hop Artist' at the MOBO awards, beating out raps biggest stars such as 50 Cent.

His debut album This Is My Demo released in February 2006, gained a hugely positive response, with the debut single, being Little Derek.. On Tiscali music, it states: In Little Derek, 23-year-old Sway, real name Derek Safo, sends out an autobiographical message to the masses that little Derek's doin' OK, little Derek's doin' fine." Currently, Sway has not yet conquered the US. He is concentrating on breaking the UK market first. Sway is currently the supporting artist on the Streets' tour of the UK and will be performing at venues such as the Manchester Academy and the TrocaBrahma.

He then moves onto do Europe dates, touring the Czech Republic among others in August. Going by his album, I believe that Sway could possibly become the biggest hip hop artist that the UK has ever produced. I can foresee a time when UK artists will be able to rival their big name competition in the US, and the long overdue process starts with Sway.