The 'One for the Journey EP' is the 2007 EP released by UK rapper Sway aka Sway Desafo, real name Derek Desafo, used mainly as a way to keep Sways name out there with new music whilst he worked on his second album. Sway's often called the hardest working man in UK hip-hop and for good reason, he's constantly making new music, often collaborating with a massive range of different musicians from Akon to Lupe Fiasco, while always working on his career plan for 5 albums before retiring, using mixtapes and samplers to help promote himself and release more music between his main records to greater effect than any British mc before him. Sway's early releases, 'This is my Promo vol 1 & vol 2', to me are the definitive UK mixtapes, and caused an explosion of different mixtapes being released from every UK rapper from Kano to JME.
I've followed Sways career closely for years now ever since hearing him on Taz's 'Cowboy Film remix' in which Sway delivered one of the greatest raps I've ever heard and still in my top 10 raps of all time. It's this appearance, plus the mixtapes, that really got Sway noticed in the rap world, receiving wide acclaim from all over the UK and as far as US stars such as The Wu-Tang and even Beyonce, which caused a flood of labels wanting to sign Sway. Mr Desafo however has a very clear vision of what he wants to do with his career and refused to sign with anyone on the terms offered, instead releasing his debut album 'This is my Demo' on an independent distribution label through his own Dcypha Productions so as to keep full creative control, something few rappers really have. Sway also received massive exposure across America by winning the BET Hip-Hop awards 'Best UK Hip-Hop Act' and then being seen by millions freestyling on a rooftop with Saigon, Rhymefest and Remy Ma, which would later appear on DJ Slay's mixtape Drama Season Begins Now.
Sway's lyrics are often full of comedic lines and scathing attacks on the fake fronts many rappers put on. He has a massive stage presence which I've been privileged enough to see three times (one of which he performed in a black and white shirt!), I remember him supporting The Streets and for me him pretty much making the show, definitely more my thing than Mike Skinner, although I did enjoy his show too and it's not really fair comparing the twos rapping abilities.
1 - True Stories
Before the track kicks in we get a quick intro reminding us this isn't Sways second album but 'the prequel to the sequel'. The song's basically about the UK and the bleaker points of living here, love the beats which come at us at almost double time, the drum machine is very predominant, very polished production which I was both impressed and surprised to find was done by Sway himself, some clever lyrics on this one.
2 - Move Back feat. Chiefer
One of the best produced tracks on the EP, the more I listen to it the more I like it, love the violins, Sway raps about the realities of his success, the darker side of his life and some of the crazy things he's been through, he moves effortlessly between double time raps to standard bars without it ever sounding like he's missed a beat, the truly is a rapper comparable with any mc in the world, Chiefer's rap's nice but doesn't touch Sways, while Sway slightly modifies some Biggie Smalls lyrics for part of the chorus, from 'Notorious Thugs' off the 'Life After Death' album -
You would too,
If you knew,
What this game would do to you,
Been in this from two double o two,
Look at all the mad things I've been through
3 - Baby Father
Both one of my favourite Sway songs and one of his funniest, all three verses have a different story about Sway and encounters with different women, the first having a child with her and claiming Sway's the father, the second with a man in jail Sway didn't know about, and the third one seeing Sway and another man at the same time, each verse is very funny, I prefer the second but they all make me laugh, I love the fact Sway doesn't take himself as seriously as many rappers you see putting on a front claiming to be gangsters and has no problem making a track like this. The beats are so dirty they aren't far from being UK grime.
4 - Up Your Speed Part 2 feat. Chamillionaire
The story of how Sway ended up working with US rap heavyweight Chamillionaire is the English man was asked to provide a verse for the Ridin' Remix to feature on the B-Side of the Ridin' single, Sway agreed but when asked how much he wanted paid he said nothing but he wanted Chamillionaire to do a song with him which the Houston, Texas rapper agreed, and Up Your Speed Part 2 was born.
Both rappers mix double time and normal raps throughout the track, Chamillionaire starts the song of with some sick lines which include some mentions of random English things, Sway's first verse quickly kicks in and its plain to hear he won't be outdone by the American mc, both rappers bounce of each other and really work well together, both have such a clear flow its possible to understand every word when they're rapping double time, which with many peoples voices it's difficult.
5 - Ex Boyfriend
A bouncy track, I'm not quite sure what's going on with the beats but there's definitely some distortion used on the sound, it's all over the place, but surprisingly works, the songs a story of Sway being in a relationship with a girl who is struggling to get over her ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, not many rappers would make a song like this but its just another example of Sways versatility.
6 - Every Man (For Himself) feat. Mr Hudson
If you recognise the lyrics to this one then that's because this songs a re-vocal of the remix to 'Products', the first single from 'This is My Demo', well done if you did recognise that but I'm guessing most probably wouldn't. To be fair the lyrics fit well over the track and Mr Hudson's singing decent, a very laid back sounding song with a very soulful chorus.
7 - Get 'Em High (Stanton Warriors feat. Sway)
Before hearing this track I'd never heard of the Stanton Warriors but a quick trip to wikipediea tells us they are a DJ and Producers team consisting of Dominic Butler and Mark Yardley. They mainly work on nu skool beats and electronic dance music.
The beats are almost a throwback to the early pioneers of rap such as African Bambata, this does sound old school, Sway as ever flows with the beat as if he's been doing tracks like this his whole career, I can't fault his raps at all.
Overall an 8/10 for me pushing 9/10 but the fact its so short stops me giving it this mark, Sway is one of the most skilled and clever lyricists in the UK and indeed the entire rap world, I recommend him to any rap fans, a very strong EP which can be picked up for a small price.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 True Stories - Sway
2 Move Back - Sway & Chiefer
3 Baby Father - Sway
4 Up Your Speed - Sway & Chamillionaire
5 Ex Boyfriend - Sway
6 Every Man (For Himself) - Sway & Mr. Hudson
7 Get 'Em High - Stanton Warriors & Sway