Swavy: “This is just the beginning of what I do. Everyone has had a taster now and I’ve many years of stories still to tell…“
In our latest Cover Story, rising rapper Swavy explains how a life-changing sports injury took his life down a new career path…
Sometimes you’re happily travelling along knowing exactly where life is heading when life throws a spanner in the works. Mississauga rapper Swavy experienced one such event when a career-ending injury brought a halt to his ambition of becoming a major NFL star and brought about the kind of shift which would soon completely change his life for the better.
After regrouping and heading into a studio with his friend, the youngster started to work on a career in music. A chance discovery by rap superstar Drake has seen some huge doors kicked down for the rapper but, as V13 discovered when we spoke to the man known as “The Lone Wolf”, this is just the beginning…
Things have been blowing up for you recently, but thought we’d have a bit of a dig back into your life…
“It was good man. It was an experience with two brothers and three sisters. Musically oriented. Always just involved with music. We had a big family but we weren’t always financially stable. Struggled growing up and sharing food and that but it was a good upbringing and it was fun. It was definitely fun.”
You talked about a musical upbringing. What was your introduction to music?
“Since I was five or four, my mom was buying me little drum kits and things like that. I would watch my older brothers play drums and guitar and my older sisters on piano singing. I was around my mom who played music 24/7. So, I was always a kid that would say “I gotta do this one day” and it just came naturally.”
What about a role model? You talk about your mother but, in terms of music, who had a big impact on you? Were there any artists growing up whose music resonated with you?
“I listened to Bob Marley and things like that as I had Jamaican side of upbringing. So I did have a lot of Dad’s old music and reggae.”
I did read somewhere that you wanted to be an NFL star. Where does sport fit into your life?
“Yeah. I played for Mississauga Warriors Football in Mississauga. I thought that was it for me. I thought it was gonna be football my whole life. My mom was understandable when I was 14/15 years old but she never really had the money. So when I was getting those offers to go over to the States and try and play and get recruited she didn’t want to really send me alone so I stayed playing here.
I just kept playing but then, eventually, I just got tired of it. I kept doing it but then I ended up getting injured. At 16, I got injured, I tore my Achilles on my right side, right foot and I was done. I’m always the guy that was hurting people, playing, never injured but my first injury was so big so I stopped playing but I was hoping to be in the NFL one day.”
“At 16, I got injured, I tore my Achilles on my right side. I was never injured but my first injury was so big I stopped playing but I was hoping to be in the NFL one day.”
If it’s any consolation, I was terrible at both music and sports at school. Music has been a big part of your life anyway so what took you into writing your own music? When did that kind of come into your life?
“I started like, getting into it more around by age 19. It was during COVID when I just started going to the studio a lot with my friend. We’d just share the payments on the studio. It was honestly for fun at first and then, eventually, it became more serious. I started taking it more serious again, because I wasn’t playing football now I was working a regular job and I hated it. It was not what was going to be doing the rest of my life. Eventually, I was gonna quit because I didn’t see it going to where I wanted it to be going. My boy told me to not give up. He could feel something in the air.”
Going back to the NFL stuff that you talked about. You said your mum wanted to be with you on that journey. Was that the same when you went into music?
“Definitely. You know, she plays a big mother role. She’s very protective. I travel. Anywhere I travel she’s waiting for my phone call. If I don’t call.. Yeah, she’s one of those, but I know it’s out of love. I love that she keeps me grounded and never looked at the superstar, she just looks at me so it keeps me grounded and I don’t mind it at all. I told her don’t change one bit. I’m okay with that.”
That’s a good ethic to have…
“Definitely. This is where you want to come to feel comfortable and feel like they’re your family so it’s okay with me. She’s gonna be bickering and arguing. That’s fine and I love her to the end of the world.”
Another thing I wanted to ask about is your nickname which I read doesn’t have any real big meaning. The lone wolf. Could you tell us a story about that? Where it came from?
“It was something that resonated with me because, growing up, I wasn’t really in like, the public systems or school, I was home-schooled. I was very closed off as a person. Just doing a lot of things on my own and finding my way of life, like, you know, growing up. So it just resonated with me. My story wasn’t a regular one like everyone else’s, where they grew up in such a big environment with a bunch of kids and things like that. I had to find my way and my siblings weren’t always around growing up, they had their things going on.”
In terms of lyrics, do you draw from the story of your life? Is that your biggest source of inspiration?
“100%. I’m very big on writing about my true story. I don’t want to paint a picture in my music of what someone else is doing, or what someone else’s life that they’re living. I’ve always been big on actually telling my own story. Sometimes in rap, you find a lot of artists just talk about things that don’t involve what they have going on. I’ve always wanted to be very relatable with my music, and I feel like it comes across naturally.”
How do you feel when you’re doing that? Is it a cathartic thing, getting that out of your system and being able to put yourself out there for the world to see? Do you find that easy to do?
“It has its ups and downs because I’m just now breaking through more and more. Doing interviews. I’m breaking through more and getting more comfortable with, you know, putting myself out there. I’ve gotten calls in my early stages over and over from my team about how I have to post more and be more interactive. I hated that. I hate being out there but it’s something I’m learning and something I’m getting more comfortable with, people knowing more about me and figuring out my story because, I guess, people are interested in knowing what I got going on.”
“Sometimes in rap, you find a lot of artists just talk about things that don’t really involve what they have got going on. I’ve always wanted to be very relatable with my music…”
You’ve had some fairly big shout outs. Some big names are really getting behind your music. For somebody that’s still fairly new in the industry, that must have been a massive buzz for you getting people like Drake getting behind your work. Where do you go from there?
“Yeah, man, it was crazy. It’s exciting. It’s all different type of emotions when things like that are going on. These are people that I looked up to. People that, growing up, I’d seen on TV and would not even think they’re real. This isn’t someone that I’m gonna meet one day or somebody I would know so it’s surreal. Even to just be around him and gain the knowledge and understanding that I have got just from being there and experiencing the shows and things like that, that I could put into my own career, is amazing. That was very big for me.”
When you started at the studio, you were at a point where you thought this isn’t gonna work. This wasn’t maybe the right decision. Flip that forward. Stuff like this I guess has justified sticking around?
“Definitely. It was a long journey. It was a long road that many people don’t know. A lot of times, people look at it like we just appeared overnight and things just happen. There was a lot of groundwork, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of writing and singing in my room at 4am and my siblings telling me to shut up and stay quiet as they’re trying to sleep. There was a lot of that even getting to the position that I’m in right now so I’m very grateful. I never take anything for granted.”
Once you had connected with someone like Drake and have a connection to a name like that, what opportunities did it open up for you? Or did you notice the type of opportunities change?
“Definitely. He’s a huge name. He’s an idol to a lot of people so, when someone like that gives your call sign or puts their name behind yours, a lot of times that can just change everything for you. You could make people that probably would have never took the time in their day to look into what you got going on actually be interested in checking you out. So it definitely put a lot of eyes on me and shone a light.
It gives you that fuel but a lot of people get the fuel but you got to be able to keep it going. You have got to be able to have the right amount of actual talent. Also, even if you have them look at you once you need to keep their eyes on you for a long time. I always believed that I just needed that push. I needed someone that could put me in that right direction so that was definitely big breakthrough.”
The song that blew up for you, “Old Ways”, does that feel like closing an old chapter and starting a new one for you? Almost moving into a new era in your life?
“I would say that was a chapter of my life 100% because it was the start of everything. A lot of people don’t know but, as that song was out, everyone’s in their head, thinking I’m was finally living in a mansion now. No. So, I just got that record but I’m still at work. I still had to go clock in like a regular guy. Wash toilets and mirrors and things like that all while Drake is posting about me. All that stuff was happening while I’m like at work.
It was a chapter of my life that I’ll never forget. I’ll never take that lightly because it moulded me into who I am now. Now I’m blessed enough to say that music is my only job which I’m not sure many people can say that they do what they love. This is a chapter of my life that I’m excited about and it’s just the beginning. That’s the craziest part to me. I’m excited.”
“I still had to go clock in like a regular guy. Wash toilets and mirrors and things like that all while Drake is posting about me. All that stuff was happening while I’m like at work…”
It’s a great start to your journey as well. So, the the mixtape is out which you have talked about being a mix of different styles which can appeal to a lot of different people. Musically then, where do you see your career going?
“Well, you’re gonna find more confidence in me as I keep going. They’re gonna find that I’m finding myself more and more. As I’m telling more stories now I’m experiencing more than my life to talk to you about. I feel like confidence is the key. It’s the key thing that people are going to be seeing in my music. I can hear the difference between me now and when I was starting. I have big confidence in just my voice alone so that’s what I’m excited for most. People to hear more and more stories, because I have more and more stories to go. This is just the beginning of what I do. Everyone has had a taster now and I’ve many years of stories still to tell…”
For more information on Swavy, head over to his social media here
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