As both Noel Gallagher and Glasto fans know, it's pretty hard to upstage Jay-Z. Yet that's just what Hornsey's Sway DaSafo did in November 2005 by unexpectedly winning the MOBO for Best Hip Hop Act, despite at that time being largely unknown outside certain parts of north London, and having yet to release an album.
The album that did drop shortly after, This Is My Demo, which garnered a Mercury Music Prize nomination, plotted a different path from the G's, guns and grime widely taking over the underground airwaves, with Sway opting for a smoother sound and a humourous, less self-conscious subject matter, always willing to laugh at himself and suggesting that black British music didn't always have to be so aggressive. It's interesting to note how formerly bellicose grime artists like Dizzee Rascal and Wiley have in recent years found chart success essentially by following the path Sway laid down.
Despite a second album, The Signature, featuring a track with a rent-a-guest performance by Akon, Sway's early promise hasn't translated into commercial success. But his live shows retain the raucous reputation gained from his years battle rapping in Tottenham's underground scene. This is his first show at east London's Rich Mix, and is part of the Create '09 event.