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Prince Swanny signs distribution deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation

by Michael Mondezie

‘I IS A man really come from nothing and really made music my passion. To see how far it reaching is a blessing.’ Those words from Trinibad dancehall star Prince Swanny (Taryll Swan) followed news, on Friday, that he has signed a distribution deal with American hip hop legend Jay Z’s (Sean Carter) record label Roc Nation. Roc Nation’s new distribution arm Equity Distribution (EQ) will handle the supply chains for Swanny’s sophomore album Swanology.

The album project, managed under the singer’s ZTEKK Records label, is set for release later this year. The music video for the album’s lead single ‘Govern’ has already racked up over 200,000 views on YouTube since its release earlier this week.

I mean, is a good feeling same way. Everybody proud of me and that just uplifting. It encouraging me to continue doing my thing,’ Swanny, who is currently on tour in the US, said of the deal during a WhatsApp call with the Kitcharee, on Friday afternoon.

Swanny, 24, has emerged in recent years as the most internationally followed and viewed music act from Trinidad and Tobago. The Carenageborn singer has over 200 million YouTube views and 235,000 monthly listeners on the Spotify music streaming app.

Swan Dan, as he is popularly called by local dancehall fans, helped popularise Trinibad and ‘zess’ music. His early singles ‘Go Fi Dem’ and ‘Brother, Brother’ are street anthems throughout the region. His 2019 single ‘Dreams’ landed him on the international radar with success in North America and the UK. And the 2021 ‘Catch 22’ off his debut album Serenity truly took his sound global.

I just want it to be out there and more exposed, now you seeing that I taking it to the next level. Now everybody seeing the vision,’ he continued through an audible smile.

Making believers out of critics, Swanny hasn’t always been openly embraced in local music circles. In fact, many older music heads have openly criticized him and other Trinibad acts for their, at times, violent and borderline misogynistic lyrical content.

Adamant that his personal musical style is rooted in the calypso music he performed at school as a child, Swanny says his goal is to reach a level of success where he can promote T& T culture and turn his harshest critics into believers.

I hear certain (negative) things, but at the same time I’m trying to put the country on the map and people are paying attention. (Trinibad) is something new to the world and I try to keep it positive. I used to do calypso growing up in school, but I also used to listen to dancehall and I try something new. It always have people to talk, but when you reach to a certain level they won’t have no choice but to love me. So let them continue to talk and I will stay on my vison and keep focused,’ he said.

Swanny says he is also ‘fully open’ to collaborating with mainstream soca artistes and believes both Trinidbad and soca acts can mutually benefit from forming musical alliances. Nailah Blackman with her 2021 collaboration ‘Say Less’ with Medz Boss is the highest profile soca act to work directly with a Trinibad act to date.

Is love same way. It’s definitely something I’m open to. I keep saying I’m true to where I come from and I mean that. Also, it would be a positive on my ends and on their end to work together and see what we come up with,’ he said.

Swanny responded to claims in Trinibad circles that he had turn his back on the grassroots movement following his international success, saying ‘he is always a phone call away’.

The feedback (from Trinibad circles) has been both positive and negative. I just hold my meds and keep trying to do the right thing. If somebody want advice, I give it freely and to the best of my ability, from the experiences I have had. I’m always a call away,’ he said.

Asked to put to words the secret of his unprecedented success Swanny says it’s simply a gift from God.

‘Is a gift given from God and as years go by I kind of keep perfecting it and executing it at the best levels,’ he said seriously.

Pausing a second to gather his thoughts, he laughed before continuing boastfully: ‘I kinda versatile same way. I know how to bring it streets, bring it positive.’

‘They thinking is I is a Jamaican but when they hear the Trini accent in between, they want to know wha is dat. Dat is Swanny,’ he concluded through another audible smile.

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