Photo by Peterson, J Guerrier

Photo by Peterson, J Guerrier

Orlando, Florida’s Swamburger has been independently releasing music for the past 15 years. With a hustler’s spirit, Swam is a world onto itself, but all are welcome who wonder into it. Swam is many things; rapper is just near the top of a long list. As one forth of the group Solillaquists Of Sound, Swam has garnered a global cult following. Most fans know him as the guy who’s always walking amongst the crowd talking out of the box ideas and hugging fans turned friends. Newcomers at his shows are in awe of his stage presence and performance. The closest comparison to a Solilla show would be going to see KRS-One (a religious experience). Before the Internet became the Internet, he was selling his music or paintings hand to hand. Yes, he’s also a painter.

When the The Microscopic Giant interviewed Swam he was gearing up for a tour in France with Solilla, which is also about to officially release their third album, The 4th Wall. It’s the final installment of their “The Listener’s Series Trilogy.” Swam gets open with TMG about his early influences, how the music industry has changed, art, his collaboration with Dark Time Sunshine and Aseop Rock, and a slew of other things.

Early music
The first album I bought was Kurtis Blow’s Ego Trip in 1984. It was a tape cassette. I played that thing until the tape popped, Hahah. I used to break to all the tracks on it too, even the singing ones… My favorite song on that album was probably “Basketball.” “Under Fire” was the track that put me in the mode to try new break moves though. Damn, that was a minute ago, huh?

Influences
My influences are: Hosea Brooks (DAD), Freestyle FellowshipAceyalone’s older solo work, and Sly and the Family Stone.

Music industry evolution
The biggest difference I’ve seen in the music industry has got to be the methodology of our distribution and advertising outlets. Both have become so quick and easy to do, it almost serves as a disservice towards the quality of music being released. Anyone can put their shit out with no standard of quality mentioned, no artist development, no label, no street credit or proper promo of any kind. Selling units is no more than a youtube video away. Within the confines of the local music scenes, folks who used to respect the achievement of acquiring a rep through paying their dues, are no longer interested in practicing a craft long enough to earn those stripes, thus, the music industry becomes filled with new artists, mimicking and biting other people’s styles, as opposed to being an original talent.

DarkTime Sunshine featuring Aseop Rock, “Take my hand”
This track was done via email. I have a personal friendship with Onry and Zavala of DarkTime Sunshine. They respect my writing style and keep me in mind whenever there’s a beat that feels like it needs my touch. (I appreciate the shit outta that.) Prior to “Take My Hand,” Onry asked me to be part of a song called “Instructions to Numb,” featuring: Qwel of “Qwel and Maker.” Once I did that track, Zavala and I got acquainted. So, when Onry asked me to be on another song, I knew I had Zavala’s blessing. In my head I was thinking, “they like me, they like me,” hahaha. Onry sent me the beat and told me thatAesop Rock would be on the track…. I immediately got hype. The concept dealt with guiding the average Joe through what you’ve experienced, seen, heard, learned first hand, etc. I loved it. I started as soon as I got the beat. Once I sent my verse back to them, I heard from Onry that Aesop was impressed… That’s the end of the story for me, hahaha. Earning Aesop Rock’s respect was definitely a career high.

The 4th Wall
The Album is called “The 4th Wall.” It’s a double album but, the process in which we wish to put the album out goes like this… First we hit them with ten tracks, then we hit them with 12 or 13 more tracks, but, we’d then present all 22 or 23 tracks as one package. The people reppin us in France is NeoNovo. They operate as our managers, label, and booking agent right now.  We tour the album in France starting this month. We’ll be out for the full month.

Artists Management
I produce damn near every Second Subject Recordings artist such as: SKIPAMIAMILL TRYBEEternity, Acey Wasuto, Alex MinorDII, as well as others like: MADD ILLZ, myself, and many more. I run Second Subject solo pretty much. Therefore, I play the role of manager, promoter, producer, booking agent, label, spiritual advisor, etc. Currently, I’d say that folks should be looking out for seven different releases now and in the near future: Solillaquists Of Sound’s The 4th Wall (Part 1) & (Part 2), In Curses’ Reaching Field, ILL TRYBE’s War In Peace, Swamburger & Optiks’ Sunshine State Of Mind (just finished this album), Eternity’s Dark Trust, and Skip’s See Skip album.

On Tour
One story I can recall, dealt with our band [Solillaquists], playing a show in New York at the Knitting Factory. Towards the end of our set, in the middle of the performance, my wife tried to get one of the apathetic audience members to move from the front of the stage, to the back. She singled one of the guys out and announced something like, “If you aren’t moving or exerting any type of external energy, get the fuck to the back and let those who want to enjoy the show, have your spot.” I immediately rushed to her side to back her up. When my part of the verse came up, I sat on the stage and placed my back against the apathetic gentleman’s chest. At that moment, he became my support [Swam was leaning against him]. He decided to step back one. Once he did, my support was broken and I was faced with the choice of either pulling myself up or falling flat on my back. I chose to fall flat on my back, while continuing to rap the rest of my verse. When this happened, my wife finished 2 bars of her verse, leaving me with enough time to flip from my back to my feet and rap my 2 bar part of the chorus directly in the face of the apathetic gentleman. The crowd went crazy! Respect was earned that night. A&R reps were there too. They went nuts. You could see them calling folks right after that part of the show happened. We were a hit that night. Afterwards, I caught up with the “apathetic” guy and asked him what he felt about the show. With deep appreciation, he said, “I loved it!” He definitely fooled us.

A typical day in the life of Swamburger
Well, after I wake up from a 6 hour sleep, I’ll usually go through my routine, work on art for about 6-7 hours, then I hit up the street to sell cd’s. Afterwards, when I get home, I usually work on beats until about 6am, go to sleep, wake up, and do it all over again.

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