Wisdom that precedes age, that’s ‘Swaizy’. The Hawaiian-born artist hopes to celebrate the autobiographical spirit of ‘Hispanic influences and heavy southern trap’ within his music. He came out the gate last year dropping a couple of singles, winning a Rapzilla live critique session at A3C, and taking it all in stride with gratitude and humility – so we knew he was a 2020 freshman ready to work.
I had the honor of conducting Swaizy’s inaugural interview.
What does it mean to you to be a Rapzilla freshman?
Honestly a lot of the stuff that happens to me – it doesn’t sink in. The good things that have been happening to me like after I won at A3C – I didn’t really know what that meant until a lot later. Again with this Rapzilla thing, it’s kinda just sinking in now. People that I listen to and used to listen to were on this list and to not just be nominated but to be an actual freshman the first year I’ve really put my money and efforts into music is really crazy to see, and it’s a big pay off. I would have never thought that my music would go to where it is now at any point in time. Let alone be considered along with people that I listen to on the daily and look up to. It’s actually a huge honor.
Is Swaizy a nickname or where does that come from?
So my actual name is Josue, which is Joshua in Spanish. But people just started calling me Sway instead of Josue. So after Sway I was just like, Swaizy. I don’t know where it came from, to be honest, but I thought it sounded like a cool nickname. And people started calling me that in 8th or 9th grade so I thought why not use that name it’s pretty cool and matches my vibe in a sense.
How did you initially start in music and what motivated you?
I’ve always loved music. I think music has a power that people don’t realize. I’ve just been interested in rappers, not just Christian ones, but rappers in general and it’s always been one of my passions to try to rap. I never thought I was honestly any good. I still don’t feel like I’m good enough, but it kinda originated from my love of hip hop. That’s been my favorite genre ever since I can remember…
I feel like this is a gift that God gave me, that’s been a recent thing that I’ve come to realize more. Like if it’s a talent that God gives you, you should do it to the best of your ability, not just to do it but to do your best. So its kinda been like I don’t need a motivation really, my motivation was using it because God gave it to me. It’s just been fun to do, and I don’t feel like I need motivation. It’s something I know within myself – I have a responsibility to do it to the best of my ability.
Who are some artists that encourage you?
There’s a lot. I think out of all the gifts that I’ve gotten and the support – the biggest thing that I’ve gotten from CHH is the community and getting to know amazing people, not just like people that I listen to and admire but new friends. I know it sounds cheesy, but I’ve literally made a family through CHH.
But one of the people that have supported me is Jon Keith. I think I showed Jon Keith one of my songs somehow or he came upon “Google Drive,” and he put it on his story on IG. Then whenever he was live, he was talking about me and that encouraged and shocked me to be honest because Jon Keith is still a person I listen to every day. His flow, his delivery, what he says, his passion behind his music – everything. So the fact that he was someone that I was heavily listening to at the time was a big encouragement to me to keep going.
Getting to know HULVEY and Rockstar, JP KILLED IT, and obviously Arrow and JXHN PVUL – they’ve all been helping me in certain ways and giving me encouragement.
You have a brand, Divine Outcast. Can you tell me about that?
It’s funny because I’ve always wanted to start a clothing brand ever since 7th or 8th grade. I wanted to start some sort of brand. I have an okay knowledge of graphic design, and I was just getting into fashion – at the time I was a big sneakerhead. Originally, I was going to call my brand Swaizy, and I was like, ‘Swaizy Nah, that’s a little crazy’. So I thought about it and over time came up with Divine Outcast which is kinda like a contrast. But literally, if you search the meaning of divine, it is God or being, or being of God and then outcast is being cast out of society. When you think about it the person who was God or of God that was cast out of society for his beliefs was Jesus Christ. That was a big motivator not just for the brand name, but I think the brand as a whole. That anyone who believes in that should not feel ashamed of it. And I guess for lack of a better word, wear it proudly…
What do feel like God is doing or showing you in your season?
I think truly God is showing me everything. I don’t really believe in myself as I should be believing in myself, and I don’t like to take credit for much. Still think I’m pretty bad, but I think God is showing me, ‘Hey I’m here, I’m giving you these gifts you need to use them’.
Also, I think with all this recognition I’m getting – he’s humbling me and letting me know, ‘This is what I gave you use it correctly, but don’t let it get to your head’. Because all of this has happened super quick. I wasn’t rapping until six months ago for music or on Spotify or anything. So this whole process after A3C has been super accelerated. After that it’s kinda just become a hobby – it still is a hobby, but it’s become almost like a necessity, not a bad necessity, but like second to after doing schoolwork. It’s what I put all my free time in, I think God is just showing me he sees what I’m doing and appreciates what I’m doing.
But know that it’s from him and that all of this can go away in a second. I need to be humble and walk in faith. I think me getting not necessarily recognition, but me getting people to listen to my music in a sense has actually motivated me to want to seek God more in my faith. Obviously, as a teenager, it’s hard with everything. I think me being prominent in the CHH community has snapped me into reality and told me, ‘Hey, people actually listen to you so you need to put in the work, not just for music, but you need to put in for faith’. That’s something that’s helped me, it’s showing me how important this is.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
I think the best advice I’ve received so far is from HULVEY and his manager. It was after the Family Ties tour I think in Atlanta. I was talking to him outside and he and his manager said basically to sum it up: ‘Yeah this music stuff is cool, it’s fun to do and can change your life, but you have to really pay attention spiritually and seek God’. They put that into perspective for me. HULVEY and his manager have a really good relationship with the Lord, and I strive to be that way. So that’s the best advice they could give me – is to not let it get to my head and that the main thing isn’t the music, the main this is God. At the end of the day if I’m going to stop making music that’s nothing compared to having a relationship with God.
What’s the best advice you can give?
I’s say the same. Seek God first, before anything else.
And mainly, if I’m talking to an artist it’s to invest in yourself and pray a lot if that’s what God wants you to do that he’ll open the doors. Definitely, invest in yourself because if I wouldn’t have paid the $50 dollars to be on Rapzilla Live a couple of times I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in also with the combination of faith and prayer…
Invest in yourself, pray about it, and know where God wants you.
Do you have any projects coming up?
I do, I have multiple things coming up. I’ve been super busy, I’ve never been this busy with music. I have a single coming out the one I actually won at A3C is coming out on the 28th, Arrow produced it. That’s one of my best songs I’ll have out. A lot of people seemed to enjoy it, it took a while but it’s coming. I’m really excited to see how people respond to that one. I also have a lot of features I’ve been doing with others.
I have a two or three-song EP coming out in collaboration with OnBeatMusic. So that’s going to be crazy – that one we’re shooting for May, but until then I’m going to have singles coming out. I’m going to have one with someone who goes crazy in our space so I’m excited for people to hear that. I can’t elaborate too much, but it was a gift – that’s all I can say.
Plus, a two or three-song EP with Arrow.