In celebration of the legendary Sway Calloway (yes, I know I’ve used that phrase multiple times, maybe it’ll stick!) joining Shade 45, let’s break down the brief though significant history of Eminem and Sway.
We all know Slim’s bio of course, but for those of you who aren’t fully familiar with Sway or who don’t appreciate quite how awesome it is for him to now be on Shade 45, let’s shed some light on his past…
Present day, Sway is a reporter and executive producer for MTV News, but how did he get to that point?
First, as a lot of radio hosts in hip-hop often do, he started out as a rapper. As a teenager, he made somewhat of a name for himself locally (Oakland, California) and he soon teamed up with DJ King Tech, becoming the infamous duo they’re known as today: Sway & King Tech.
After a brief stint with major record label Giant Records and the debut album Concrete Jungle, Sway and Tech moved wholeheartedly into hosting, with The Wake Up Show on Power 106 (KMEL).
The Wake Up show is what truly introduced Sway’s presence to the hip-hop culture and along with Tech, he began giving up-and-coming rappers their first notable radio appearance(s). Among those first heard on the The Wake Up Show are Ras Kass, Chino XL and of course, Marshall Mathers: 1997, was when Em met Sway.
Eminem on The Wake Up Show, 1997
This year was significant for Eminem and everybody around him, including Sway and Tech and the notoriety of The Wake Up Show. It was significant due to how famous and acclaimed Eminem became and how his first appearance on this show became intrinsically linked to the tale of his rise.
Despite the fact that we now know that Dr. Dre first heard Eminem after Jimmy Iovine gave him The Slim Shady EP to listen to, there’s always been ambiguous meanderings about how Dre was driving in his car and heard Em freestyling on The Wake Up Show, and then went on a mad rush to find him and fly him out to his office for a meeting.
There may still be some truth in this however, as although Dre may of been aware of Eminem prior to hearing him on the radio (if in fact he did hear him on the radio), it may of been this moment which sparked Dre’s excitement and caused him to act on the notion of getting in contact with Eminem.
One thing is for sure though, Em’s raps on this show are among his most satisfying and humorous. This is really when he started to properly let Slim Shady out and truly began to shape a sound around his lyrical madness. The lyrics he’s spitting here are so sharp and his flow is so smooth and on-point.
As a host, Sway is certainly among the best within hip-hop circles. He’s known for asking the questions fans really want answered and making a genuine attempt to have worthwhile conversations with artists, as apposed to just going through the motions, rattling off statistics and playing silly sound effects.
Which is exactly why this is a more exciting and noteworthy moment than some other arbitrary host coming to the station otherwise would be. Here’s to hoping Sway will squeeze future genius freestyles out of Em. And no doubt, many great interviews to come on future material, and no doubt a lot more interesting and worthy of airtime than DJ Who?… Kid.