In between celebrating the Chipolopolo AFCON 2012 win and getting Valentine’s on,we caught up with Zambia’s top International Hip-Hop artist and multi award winner, Mr. Swagger, formerly known as C.R.I.$.I.$., to find out about his first Grammy Awards experience. Here is what he had to say.
UKZAMBIANS: How were the Grammys?
Mr Swagger: While people were winning Grammys, I was wondering how Zambia was doing in the football game. Everything was happening at the same time and, the laws of physics couldn’t allow me to be in both places at the same time
UKZAMBIANS: Oh man, that must have been hard not to watch the finals in full.
Mr Swagger: The Grammys are the biggest event in music and, it was just sad that a we lost a great contributor to the industry. It kind of put a dark cloud over the event, even though it went on as scheduled. Losing Whitney Houston was like losing a sister in the family. She shared a lot with the world through her music. This is how we’ve been able to relate to her through the decades
UKZAMBIANS: The whole industry is in shock with her death. How did your Grammy invite happen?
Mr Swagger: The funny thing about that is, it was very random. I have an album called ‘Designer’ which I released in 2008. It was my first International release. It’s also the one album that has sold the least but, it was recognized by the Recording Academy. As you may know, the Grammy’s are strictly on invitation and, ‘Designer’ is the one album I’ve done that they recognized and based on that, I got an invitation to attend the 54th Grammy Awards.
Mr Swagger: Yeah, the thing about such events is that, you get to meet people and, sometimes you re-connect at a later date and, sometimes you don’t ever see each other again. The most random thing happened to me. I was at Heathrow Airport, returning from the BEFFTA Awards where I had just won BEST INTERNATIONAL ACT. While connecting flights, I met a guy called ‘Skrillex.’ We sat next to each other in the departure lounge and we got talking. He happened to be a musician. We exchanged contacts and had a really good vibe. During the Grammy’s, I met him as I was heading to the auditorium and, we both recognized each other. Skrillex was nominated for a Grammy and, he won. My point is that, you get to meet people and, as time goes you start crossing paths and you get familiar with each other and, that’s how you build relations.
UKZAMBIANS: Good thinking man, you are an inspiration. Now A few years ago, there was talk about you auditioning to join G-Unit, can you talk about that?
Mr Swagger: I was in London when I met G-Unit at the BBC Radio Offices. It was just a meet and greet. If anything, I had about a one minute conversation with 50 Cent and spoke to Olivia for about minutes. The whole crew was there including Mase who I also spoke to for a few minutes. All I did was tell people that I met these guys and, as third hand information goes, it gets distorted. Someone decided to twist the story.
UKZAMBIANS: What do you think of the local Music Award shows after being at the Grammys?
Mr Swagger: I must commend the Zambian Award Show creators to start with. It takes a bit of work to achieve show’s that are at Grammy level. The good news is that, we’ve started making strides towards something. You must remember that, the Zambian music industry has been around for a long time but, it went through a time when nothing was happening. It died but, thanks to companies such as Mondo Music for bringing it back. We have a lot of catching up to do and, people need to understand that, we are still a young music industry so, there will be a lot of trial and error before our standards are solidified. I believe that things will improve. Rome was not built in a day.
UKZAMBIANS: We hear you are working on a new record called Business Is Good? How is it shaping up and why name is B.I.G
Mr Swagger: I haven’t been in the studio that much because I’ve been travelling a lot. In between, I’ve been getting chances to record and prepare for the next session and so forth. I’ve been taking my time because this album is part of a bigger vision. I named the album ‘B.I.G (Business is Good)’ because, it’s a reflection of how I see things. There are many elements that contribute to this venture. Music is fun but, it’s a business. The album title is a double entendre. It has many meanings to it in relation to business and music as a whole.
UKZAMBIANS: Is that song you did with Lil Flip going to be on the album?
Mr Swagger: The song is called ‘Since You Hate Me.’ Yeah, I was debating with myself. The thing is that, I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback from that joint. People in Zambia that have heard it have given it good dap and my peeps in the US are loving it, I guess that’s a “yes.”
UKZAMBIANS: Talking about haters.We must admit that you are probably one of the most talked about rapper in Zambia and by ‘talked’ about I mean positive and negative talk is that song addressing that?
Mr Swagger: My boy Titus Ramiz from Chicago, USA came up with the hook. I just laced the vocals and aired out what I felt in my heart. Wolf, a lot of people want to make blogs just like yours but, they will never be you. It’s usually people in your own field that spark the fire. The good news is that, they’re talking and, it only increases your blessings when you’ve done nothing to provoke them. Thanks to all the haters for continuously giving me a ladder to step on their heads.
UKZAMBIANS: We get you, thanks for your time man, any words you want to say before we wrap up?
Mr Swagger: I just want to thank you for your time. I read your blog whenever I get the chance and, I think you’re doing a phenomenal job. I’d like to thank my wife and family for being supportive.