There are more than a few movers and soothsayers who’re leading the charge when it comes to the roar of Chattanooga’s hip-hop scene. But there’s no one who represents the vitality and variable personalities of the movement better than Swayyvo, a man who sees the inherent possibilities of the genre and works to illuminate and groove with equal fervor. Mesmeric in his verbal acrobatics and unnervingly open in his exploration of his personal experiences, he takes the ordinary things around us and creates something truly extraordinary.
Over the past few years, Swayyvo has proven himself adept at working his brand of distinct hip-hop lucidity from every angle you can imagine. He’s provided memorable guest spots on countless tracks, given his sax a workout as an underutilized weapon in rap music and spit incendiary rhymes that cling to your brain like napalm. And with every track released, he further develops these skewed melodic rhythms. This is especially true in regards to his latest song, “Been Dranking,” a sharp and direct conversation that finds him building a quixotic lyrical divergence out of a chopped and screwed Beyoncé sample.
His voice is mercurial and slides past in a blur of syllables and rhythmic revelation. Equal parts musical come-on and promise, the song reveals a deeper emotional connection while also presenting a dense swagger that adds weight and movement to his arrangements. Sax drifts in from the background at different times, adding a gravitas and history to a song that already feels fully lived in. Swayyvo seems to be putting out music at a steady clip now, and with songs such as “Been Dranking” fortifying his discography, he continues to impress with a wide range of influences that speak to his genre-hopping proclivities.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.