Monday, May 16, 2011


Whenever you’re in the presence of Producer/DJ Swanny Rivers, you’re automatically drawn to his Latin Accent, swagger, charm and is trademark scream “AWWWWW! YEAH!” He’s also a man that has a great legacy as well as a great love and appreciation for Hip-Hop, which is something that he and many feel are missing from the music industry. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Rivers was surrounded by music through out his childhood, but quickly fell in love with Hip-Hop, and like many kids who saw the birth of this popular genre, he became involved by DJaying, making beats and producing for many of today’s Hip-Hop legends, but when he decided to come out as a Gay Man, he was shunned by many due to their ignorance and homophobia. Down, but not out, Rivers began to search for openly Gay Rappers, and after discovering that Brooklyn-based Gay Rapper Shorty Roc was emerging on the scene, Rivers reached out to produce some tracks for him, but that was only the tip of the iceberg; Roc introduced him to fellow Hip-Hop head, DJ Baker, host of the award-winning DA-DOO DIRTY Show, who added him to his staff as a producer and co-host giving the show more heat and listeners. “Swanny is not only a super producer, but a super producer, engineer and a super friend” Baker said via text message.”I love working with Swanny for his work ethic. That’s why he is a part of the show. He also puts in long hours of work for Da Doo-Dirty Show and him.”
I addition to working with the show, Rivers is also running his record label with several talented artists, who will help keep his name in many music listeners and musicians mouths. I had the opportunity to chill with the outgoing Legend during a break at the BCAT studios in Brooklyn where he spoke about his career, his feelings on the state of Hip-Hop and working with the LGBT music community.

DA-PROFESSOR: Hey Swanny how’s it goingDA-PROFESSOR: Hey Swanny how’s it going?
SWANNY RIVER: Everything’s good. Working an a new project (and you know) trying to do some positive things. I’m trying to leave the negative behind me. Staying in the positive.

DA-PROFESSOR: How did you become involved with music?
SWANNY: Let me tell you something brother. I’ve been doing music since I was in the crib. My mother told me I used to get excited when my father used to play records. OK? And in my house there was always music playing. I learned how to DJ and my mother and father brought me my first turntables, and I learned to DJ from this crew from my neighborhood called the Dance Masters and DJ Scooter Love. I learned from him and I just learned to do blends. Then scratching came around. I saw Grand Master Flash for the first time. It was an instant love affair. Then I brought my first drum machine and started making drum beats and putting accapellas over it adding that to my mix and here I am (laughs).

DA-PROFESSOR: Which producers influenced you?
SWANNY: Oh. Dr. Dre. Just Blaze. Swizz Beats. The one and only Quincy Jones. I love me some Quincy Jones. I just love him period. That’s about it. The newer dudes, everybody sounds alike.

DA-PROFESSOR: How did they influence you?
SWANNY: They influence me with their style alone. Dr. Dre is that West Coast flavor that make you wanna sit back, smoke a blunt and bop your head. I like that. Swizz Beats with your club shit. I love that! Then you got Just Blaze. When he samples and how those hard drum rolls. All that good stuff. When I hear one of those joints, makes me wanna make a beat and get my artists to do their thang.

DA-PROFESSOR: What was it like being a Gay Latino in the Hip-Hop industry back in the day?
SWANNY: Well, I didn’t come out until the early 90’s. I’m not gonna say who, but I was working with certain kats and when I finally came out, they turned their backs on me. It was hard. It was hard. But now I’m happy where I’m at you know? In the Out Hip-Hop industry. I’d rather be here because I’m among my peers. I’m around people that are just like me.

DA-PROFESSOR: What prompted you to be a apart of the Out Music Industry?
SWANNY: When I was at home one day (and) I said to myself “I wonder if they’re any Gay Rappers. So back then there was my space so I went on my space and I typed in the search Gay Rappers and the only one that came up was Shorty Roc. So when I hit him up and he hit me back and were talking for a bit (and) I invited him to my studio and I heard him do his thing. Two weeks later, he introduced me to DJ Baker and DJ Baker doing Da-Doo-Dirty show and I loved it! I wanted to be involved with it. I’ve been doing that ever since. It’s the love for Hip-Hop really and I think Hip-Hop losted it way because everybody’s too commercialized. I like that real gritty, back packing, that real Hip-Hop. Not that (other) stuff you hear on the radio.

DA-PROFESSOR: Which Out Rappers have you worked with?
SWANNY: I worked with Bry’nt. I worked with Boneintel. I worked with Sonny Lewis. I did a track with some new rappers Splash Tea, who’s my artist. I’ve done work with Quentin Adams. He’s my artist. I’ve done work with Kin4Life, Shorty Roc, Tim’ M West, Verbal Science. Anybody else you wanna know (both laugh).

DA-PROFESSOR: You have many artist. Do you plan on forming your own label?
SWANNY: Well I’m working towards that. I used to have SR Productions, but I changed it to SR Music; Swanny River Music and I have Splash Tea. I have Bille Bad. Dirty Hanna. I call them Dirty Hood because of their name. Then I have Clover B. I have my songbird Quentin Adams. This kid is amazing!

DA-PROFESSOR: It was interesting how Quentin was searching for you. How does that make you feel having an artist seek you out?
SWANNY: It’s amazing. It’s bugged me out. I hit him up on facebook without hearing his music and he hit me back and when I heard him sing, It was like wow, he can (really) blow. And he sounds better than anybody I heard in the R&B world. I’m not gonna sugar coat it. I’m gonna tell you straight up. It felt so good and I’m willing to work with anybody, but you gotta be up to par.

DA-PROFEESOR: You brought up a good point about Hip-Hop past and present. Many artists wanna be original, but they can’t due to the corporate politics and bullshit. Tell me from your opinion why is that?
SWANNY: It’s sad. I can bring it out of them. They can do anything they want, but you got to work hard. Those straighties. Those heteros, they’re not gonna accept us, but if we put in the hard work and we put out good music. Stop talking about nonsense like what goes on in the bedroom. That’s why they’re not gonna give us any respect. Talk about everyday stuff like your block, the club and I’m sure if we work hard, they would respect us. They’re looking at us now.

DA-PROFESSOR: It seems like the industry accepts Gays who are flamboyant, hair dresses and fashion stylists,
SWANNY: They think we’re all hair dressers and fashion stylists. That’s what they think. We’re rappers, we’re doctors, we’re politicians. We’re all over the place. Those heteros need to open their eyes and see that we’re the next big thing.

DA-PROFESSOR: Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
SWANNY: 5-10 years. Honestly 10 years, I’ll be retired by then. My company will be a driving force for the LGBT community as far as my music is concerned because that’s what I’m aiming for.

DA-PROFESSOR: How do you feel that you’re making an impact on the LGBT community?
SWANNY: I don’t know if I made an impact yet, but if I did, that’s good. I want everybody to step their game up (you know). I mean Da-Doo-Dirty show. I don’t see it yet.

Swanny River's mixtape "It Is What It Is: When The Beat Drops" is avaliable for download.


Donald Peebles said...

Excellent interview, Ra Shawn! I feel I got to know Swanny River much better as a DJ and a person. Thanks for sharing!


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