“R-Swift is a husband, father, friend, emcee, [and a] leader in the community.”
He started rapping at age 11 and got the title R-Swift because he was quick to represent himself and get in on cyphers.
“Growing up in the inner city, hip-hop has always been the soundtrack of our lives.” Being raised in New York City as well as Philadelphia, hip-hop became something R-Swift loved to listen to.
At age eleven, “I would just hear my cousins having cyphers at the crib all the time. It was a bunch of cats in there rhyming.” One day he decided to get in on the action and test his own abilities.
“I didn’t have no raps written so I just freestyled off the top and I loved it.”
“I’ve been wanting to be a rapper since [I was] eleven years old.” R-Swift started writing his own raps and performing them at talent shows. At age fifteen, he met some people who had recording equipment and “I started getting more and more attention in the city [Philadelphia] and that’s how it started.”
He grew up with a single mom who worked all day to support the family. He also grew up “around the dope boys and started selling dope at fifteen.” After living the street life and selling drugs for a few years, “it kind of hit me one day and I was like ‘Man, I wonder what God thinks of me?’”
Being honest with himself and what he knew from having been to church, he knew that God would not be happy with his life.
“I think that answer is what kind of triggered something in me to want to see some type of change in my life… I was so deep and so involved in different things that I didn’t know how to change.”
R-Swift began praying during that time, saying “Lord, if you want me to change, I’mma need you to make it clear. I’mma need you to make me change because I’m out here.”
He started not to desire some of his former ways and habits and began to desire a relationship with God. “It started with a thought. Little did I know, that thought was the Holy Spirit really working at me.”
Earlier this month, R-Swift released a new EP, You’re Welcome. It is his third project in the past five years. Shortly after releasing his 2013 album Apply Pressure, his wife was diagnosed with cancer. “
I pretty much had to shut down everything from 2013 to 2015. I spent two years nursing my wife back to health and taking care of the home.”
Though it was hard on his music career, “I choose my family over money or success any day.” Thankfully his wife was healed of cancer and has now been in remission for over three years.
Knowing that listeners would question why he is saying “you’re welcome,” R-Swift notes that “You’re welcome is two-fold. First of all, I’m saying you are welcome into my world… also what I bring to the table in hip-hop is something that they’ll thank me for later.” He says that though he has never been the most celebrated artist, many listeners have come to appreciate his music over time.
“You’re Welcome” is the introductory track to the EP. With his first song, he wants to welcome listeners to his world and make it known that “When it comes to bars, I got that. I can still rap circles… I’m not the best hook writer, I’m not the greatest pop song maker, but when it comes to spitting, that’s what I do.”
The project continues with “Autopilot” featuring Beleaf and WHATUPRG. R-Swift says he loves the opportunity to collaborate with Beleaf because “we’re good friends and we’re fans of each other’s work.” The concept is that
“we don’t have to stress how everybody views us because at the end of the day, God is flying this whole thing.”
“Hear Me” is a declaration of uniqueness to the world and not fitting in, specifically within the music industry. R-Swift notes that in hip-hop, many artists follow trends of the most popular sounds and styles, while he is focused on being himself. “Hear Me” features 1K Phew and Angie Rose.
“I try to include a female emcee on my records because I feel like there are some real, real dope female emcees out there and they don’t get the spotlight they deserve.” R-Swift says that Christian hip-hop can often be chauvinistic and shuts out women.
“I don’t think it’s fair. I hate it, so as long as I’m making music I’mma be aggressive and collaborate with female artists. Angie Rose is a dope sister that I started to build with and I was like, ‘Man, we can make something real dope together.’”
R-Swift has known 1K Phew for a few years; in the past they had the same manager. “We just started connecting and it was organic. He has the young generation.”
“I’ve always been very focused on social commentary before it became a popular thing.” Social commentary is exactly what he is sharing on “Robbin Hood.” R-Swift wants to be a voice to issues facing the urban and Black communities. “One of the biggest issues we’re dealing with, especially where I live at right now is gentrification.”
After he had the idea, he wasn’t sure how to turn it into a song. His desire is always to “find a very unique way of addressing popular issues.” The song is a two-sided play on words.
“When we look at people with money and people with privilege in this world, we feel like it gives them this kind of importance… we’re special too because of who we are. You don’t have to have a whole lot of money.”
R-Swift says that people from the hood are robbing it of its dignity and esteem. “You have a lot of people from the hood that go on and become successful, go out and become doctors, lawyers, teachers… when they achieve the success, the first thing they want to do is get the furthest away from the hood that they can do.”
He notes that if the successful people who come from the hood all abandon their community, the hood will not have any positive leaders to influence the younger generations.
“We give the hood a bad name and because of that, we grow up with the self-loathing mentality and we can’t wait to leave our people.” R-Swift and his family, now living in Atlanta, decided to move into the hood.
“We lived in a nice gated community in the burbs, but we moved to the hood because we wanted to do life with our people… Now my next-door neighbors know what it looks like to see a husband that’s a businessman to take care of his wife and kids.”
The final track on You’re Welcome is “Veteran Fresh” featuring Th3 Saga. R-Swift has been releasing music for over twenty years and can truly be called a veteran of Christian Hip-Hop. “I look at myself as veteran fresh, which means, yeah, I’ve been doing this for a long time… but at the end of the day I never stop learning so I address everything as a freshman as well.”
You’re Welcome will be followed by a sequel in September followed by a full-length album.
“You’re gonna hear me and you’re gonna value our voice at the end of the day.”
You can get You’re Welcome here.