This is the first post of The Bandwagon, Don Diva’s new page devoted to independent music acts. With the streaming world excluding indie artists more and more, Don Diva felt it was important for them to get a little shine. This is your opportunity to jump on the bandwagon early!
Though a career in rap may be attractive to the eye, it’s not for everybody. The young career of Swagg King, 25, a rapper hailing from North Lawndale on the West Side of Chicago, displays the cons of a rap career. He has aspirations of stardom, but his journey to success has been volatile.
Swagg King dove into the rap world behind the scenes for his cousins, a rap collective called The Dotboyz. Previously, Swagg was an entrepreneur, designing and selling clothes, throwing parties and slinging marijuana. He served as hype man for the group until he wrote a hook.. “When I made my first hook and heard myself, that’s what drove me to make music and be an artist,” said Swagg. “Just being around real niggas that spit turned me up.”
The crew went on to become “Young Heavies” and it became a full-blown movement.. “There’s Young Heavies from every gang, in every part of the city,” said Swagg proudly. “A ‘heavy’ is a person running shit. You can be whatever you are.”
Besides music, Swagg expanded previous hustles and added property flipping to the equation. The Young Heavies are pioneers of outdoor block party-esque “FeFe” parties in the hoods of the West Side. Under Swagg’s leadership, the clique reached a level of prominence, influencing other movements in the city. Swagg’s manager, Frank Roman boasted, “We kind of laid the blueprint for what you need to do.”
Everybody wasn’t digging the Young Heavies’ movement. Swagg and his associates would hit clubs like The Factory, a popular gentlemen’s club, in party buses draped in Versace and Gucci fits. They would skip the line because of Swagg’s connections with club managers and take over VIP sections with bottles and women steadily coming over. This wasn’t appreciated by the older goons. Swagg elaborated, “People don’t like that. When the older niggas see young dudes from Chicago shining, they be want to do something to you.”
Swagg has had his share of run-ins with in Chicago after entering the rap game. “Life for me has been Hell. I had to face a lot of hate in the street,” said Swagg.
On one occasion, Swagg’s car was shot at and hit five times. He has also lost friends. One friend was shot in the face at a house party. Another was killed on an expressway as he ran away from wolves trying to rob him.
Furthermore, Swagg King’s studio, The Hammer House, was raided by police. Though no drugs were found (the Young Heavies had stopped selling marijuana), guns were found in the studio, none belonging to Swagg. The guns were for protection according to Roman. “You kind of need a gun in Chicago these days.”
Swagg’s life was nothing like this before rapping. His grandfather was a prominent boxer and his father was a professional football prospect with tryouts for NFL teams. However, both chose the streets over their sports dreams. Swagg decided to take a different route so that he could avoid the pitfalls of the street, but they found him.
Though the road to success has been rocky, Swagg King is still determined to make it. He is set to release his album, The Prologue, soon and is preparing to embark on a 12-city European tour. “I just wanted to tell my story. Just be a musician,” said Swagg. “I’m trying to pave the way for other Black youth.”