Derek Andrew Safo (born 5 September 1982) is a English Music Artist who uses the stage names Sway DaSafo or simply Sway; he is also a full-time producer, establishing DCypha Productions.
His mother had traveled from Amsterdam to Heathrow on her journey from Ghana, from which she originated and spoke the dialect of Twi. Whilst in London, she gave birth to Derek Safo. Sway was born to a Muslim father and to a Christian mother and describes himself as a Muslim. Sway attended Redlands Primary School where he spent most of his time experimenting with music, rewriting the lyrics of his favorite artists. He attended Highgate Wood Secondary School in North London where he spent his spare time using the school equipment for musical production. Producing tracks for local artists, he was told to use his personality to write songs by adding his humor with his lyrical talent. Sway is the cousin of former Arsenal footballer Quincy Owusu-Abeyie.
At the age of 16, Sway had a place in the grand final of an open mic session at Dingwalls in London. He lost to Chester P of Task Force. It was at this age that Sway was a member of Tottenham-based hip hop trio Phynix Crew. Following his defeat at Dingwalls, Sway got into the finals of Choice FM's Rapology '99 with his rap group where they lost. Phynix Crew merged with two other rap groups to form One. Sway was now studying at college, as well as having a part-time job and producing ringtones for a company. Sway began to create a studio in his bedroom with the money he earned so that he could start to produce his own songs.
Sway produced many solo singles despite being in a rap group and his first break was under the name 'Sway DaSafo' on the track "On My Own" which reached the A-list of BBC Radio 1Xtra when the station was launched. He continued to produce music. When One released their first debut album, called Onederful World, 50% of the 10-track CD was produced by Sway. A member of the 'MOBO Unsung' committee enjoyed it and nominated it for the 'MOBO Unsung' competition, which resulted in the group reaching the final five of the competition. They did not win, however, DJ Tim Westwood of BBC Radio 1 and DJ Semtex of BBC Radio 1Xtra began giving them airplay.
In 2004 after finding himself in business and recording situations he describes as "bait" and foreseeing the attitude of labels towards rappers due to the actions of other acts such as So solid crew to name a few, he established Dcypha Productions along with Dj Turkish and Junior Dcypha to record, promote and release their own music. A move which they would make in order to steer Sways career the way they had envisioned and give them full autonomy in decision making, as Sway describes in an interview " me and the team decide my singles, what sort of marketing tactics to use etc etc its all done in house"
Since 2004 Dcypha Productions have been known to have either signed or been affiliated with under ground acts such as Big foot, klays, Nia J, Biggz, Baby Blue, Chiefer and Raptor.
In 2003, Sway started to pursue a solo career in the British music scene. He was invited by his cousin, DJ Ink, to feature on some of his drum and bass tracks and he became a member of the group Fifth Element. In 2004, Sway established DCypha Productions along with Junior Dcypha (brother of long time friend Chiefer who also features on "one for the journey EP" on "move back" and is also an actor) and Dj Turkish to enable him to release his mixtapes and debut solo album, This Is My Demo. At DCypha, Sway produces his beats and songs alongside his long-time friend Bigz.
Sway launched his solo career upon the disbanding of his group One by releasing two independent mixtapes, called This Is My Promo Volumes 1 and 2. They were underground successes, and his debut LP This Is My Demo was released on 6 February 2006. Its second single, "Little Derek", headed in at #38 on the UK national charts. Remixes are also available featuring Baby Blue. His song "Hype Boys" is used in the video game Need for Speed: Carbon, and the song "Flo Fashion" is used in the video game FIFA Street 2. To coincide with the release of his debut album, Sway released a collaboration mixtape with LoveDough to promote LoveDough's nightclub in Newcastle upon Tyne. The compilation mixtape, called This Is My Rave, featured Pyrelli and Bigz, amongst other UK hip hop and R&B artists.
His debut has become controversial amongst UK hip hop artists due to his criticism of many modern rap artists "overhyping" themselves and glorifying themselves using elements from gang culture and street violence to make themselves seem 'harder' than they are and thus sell records to people who are potentially ignorant of the true roots of hip hop. He also argued against the use of nigger in hip hop and R&B songs on an appearance on Sky News.
Sway was the main support act for The Streets' UK tour, which began in Manchester on 27 April 2006, and ended in Leeds on 12 May 2006. He has also been performing solo around Europe to promote This is My Demo. He created a song in 2005 dedicated to his profile on MySpace. He also appeared on The Mitchell Brothers' single "Harvey Nicks" alongside The Streets' Mike Skinner.