Hailing from North London is rising rapper, Sweeney. Having first began stringing together pages of rhymes from the tail-end of his primary school education, years later he was encouraged by his friends to start taking his undeniable talent seriously! Taking his very personal lyric-writing hobby and morphing it into a very public one, Sweeney began dropping an array of YouTube freestyle’s in the Autumn of 2016.
Building a small but loyal following that recognized his incredible talent for putting words together in a vivid fashion, Sweeney, today has released his third single titled, “Difference”. Following on from his debut single “Rubicon” last year, that has since been played on Rinse FM, 1Xtra, NTS Radio as well as Julie Adenuga’s show on Beats1 – Sweeney has been proving his artistry since!
Posing as an artist to watch, we caught up with Sweeney to find out a bit more about him!
Let’s talk about your upbringing! What was it like for your growing up in North London? How were you introduced to music?
Growing up in North London was alright! I’ve been to different schools around the borough, I went to Primary School in Seven Sisters, Tottenham and I went to a Secondary School in East Finchley: so, I’ve been around various parts of North. I used to play football in Islington, I’ve made a lot of friends and connections in North areas. I’ve had an alright upbringing, my parents have done the best they can with me, I’m from a working-class background so I was used to working from an early age, doing cash-in-hand jobs and stuff! With music, my Mum sings a lot and my Dad when he was living with me, had a studio in his room and he used to make music as well; since I was born, I’ve witnessed a lot of music!
So, were you listening to anyone in particular that inspired you? Or was it more from your parents?
Growing up in North, there’s a couple classic people like Craig David and Chip; when I was in Primary School, I was seeing him do his ting when he was in Secondary School. I went to the same Secondary School as Headie One n’ that, but them man weren’t really doing music like that back in school. Growing up and seeing it unfold yourself first-hand, what these people are achieving from where they were is very inspiring and motivating! It just shows you what is possible and tangible! But, my Mum, Dad and brother inspired me; my brother used to write and make music, I was very close to him and always watched him do it. I think that is where it really started from; I started actively writing lyrics after watching my brother.
I’ve read that you actually started releasing freestyles on YouTube and that’s where you began building more of a following musically. What made you want to start free-styling and uploading them?
I think for me, seeing artists like J Cole and Wretch 32 doing ‘Fire In The Booth’ and free-styling video’s; it made me want to put out and share my own music. When I was in Secondary School and writing certain lyrics, because I wasn’t releasing my own stuff, I was listening to some of my favourite artists saying similar things – that for me was a wake-up call. The reason for me dropping freestyles was so that I could hold down my own art, I hadn’t physically made a lot of songs at that point, but I didn’t want to release my own music without having the foundations! I’ve seen a lot of artist’s go around YouTube beats, which is cool, but I have seen a lot of them get into issues if the song is successful!
Would you say that when you started releasing these, this was the point in which you started to take music seriously?
Yeah! That was when I made the active decision to say that I was going for it!
What three words would you use to describe your sound?
Hmm, I don’t know! Believe it or not, I don’t know if you have heard the mainstream single or not (“Rubicon”), that was aimed specifically at the mainstream audience. However, I wouldn’t say that I have a mainstream vibe, I think I can just deliver it! But, down to my actual music I’d say ‘real’ – I get told that a lot! For example, with my free-styles people wanted to start seeing proper tracks from me that are a bit more up-beat because they saw that I was always delivering music that provoked deep-thinking. I would also say ‘deep’, I take after a more classical style of music, I don’t really go for the new-gen Drill sound, I came up off Garage, Funky House, 2000’s R&B and Grime!
You released your debut single “Rubicon” last September! Why this single in particular? What was the main draw of inspiration for this?
It wasn’t something I had shown that I was capable of doing, because of the contrast between the freestyle and “Rubicon”, it was more easy-going, fun and vibrant – that type of music would take your mind off certain stresses! Whereas, the freestyle would probably make you think about it more!
Earlier this year you followed through with “Lines Ringing”, in my opinion this track really showcased your lyrical ability! Tell us a bit more about this single? What do you tend to draw to for lyrical inspiration?
For lyrical inspiration, I tend to look back on things that have happened in my life!
So, you draw from your personal experiences more?
Yeah! I mix it with what I hear on the radio and try to deliver something that’s a bit more mainstream. I wrote the lyrics to “Lines Ringing” myself and got the singer on the track. I wanted to showcase my ability to write as an artist and not just a rapper, I am capable of writing songs for other people – not just myself! People think it’s a sample when it’s actually my own work! I wanted to show people ‘Yeah cool, the mainstream song dropped’, I knew a lot of people would jump on my name from there but I thought it was important for the next one to give some insight about myself, whilst showing that I’m lyrically there on the verses!
You are releasing your latest single “Difference”, so far your releases have been more up-beat – Are you still playing around with your sound or have you envisioned a direction in which you would like to take your music in?
What I am in-visioning, isn’t just one lane! When artists have a big hit they stick to that sound and always try and capture the feeling of that first single. People will say ‘Yeah! It’s good!’ but it also limits them over time, and it gets boring to listen to! I don’t really care about what people say, as long as I am cool with it and give what I want lyrically – that’s me! I can do the slow-paced stuff and the vibey ting, I had to relax a bit more, it’s not always about the message sometimes people just want to enjoy the music!
The visuals for “Difference” show the scenes from the Black Lives Matter movement, which fits in with the concept behind the song around empowerment. In this song you touch on some personal experiences of yours which undoubtedly many people will relate you – How important is it for you to deliver this message? Growing up did you ever feel a lack of motivation and optimism in that sense?
It’s important! That’s my aim to get the message out! When it’s all said and done and I’m not here anymore, that’s all that’s going to be here for me to speak in my place! With that song, originally it was going to be a Gym motivational type video, but this was before the virus had hit and everything went left. The song is motivational, so it does tie in with the video, I don’t directly speak about Black Lives Matter in that song but it relates! I have had times in my life, not just when I was younger, where I have been in tough positions, not just physically but mentally as well and there wasn’t much motivation – I would have wanted that for myself!
Watch the visuals for “Difference” exclusively below!
You have your debut mixtape coming out later this year, what can we expect to hear on this? Any features we should look out for? Have you got a title for it yet?
I am going to do features, no more than 3 in total! I wouldn’t say that anyone will be of a high status in music, but they have all achieved crazy things! Just like me, they are lyrically talented and that’s another thing I want to bring to the table. People keep telling how the scene is getting boring, it’s always the same people and the same type of sound and it’s just getting remixed in a different order! I think it’s important to bring a new sound, a new feeling and to shake everything up again! If I am going to create a string of tapes that are mainly centred around myself, with a couple of artists that people would class as ‘underrated’ – I’m creating my own world and then start to merge it with others!
Would you say that this mixtape is just showcasing your ability overall?
Yeah! I think overall, the tape is going to showcase my ability to be diversified! Each sound is intentionally not meant to be like the last one. I want to make a song for every mood that you go through in a day!
How long did it take to curate this project?
Some of the tracks were written 2 or 3 years ago! Some of them are written from when I was younger and I’m excited to finally get that across. These are songs that have been close to me for a long time because I’m still not out of what I am living in and it’s taken me time to go about it! The tape is going to be shedding more light on me!
What more can we expect to see from you this 2020?
More than last year – every year! Bigger and better! People question my consistency, but if you know me, I never stop! I’m trying to have more views, likes and followers – so far it’s been on course, this has been the best year yet!
You can keep up to date with all things Sweeney via his Instagram here.