It’s a personal responsibility of mine to share other artists’ stories on my own Hip Hop platform. People tend to judge rappers based on their appearance, especially when it comes to the “rap persona” that seemingly glorifies drugs, sex, and exploitation of women. However at its core, Hip Hop was born from people in the struggle- largely of the Black and Hispanic communities in New York’s boroughs like Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx. Young and up and coming rappers can talk heavily about Hip Hop’s roots but very few were there when it happened, let alone got to witness it. It can get overwhelming for me when I think of how serious that “gang lifestyle” can be for many. Without passing judgement, there are real men and women whose lives revolve around gangs; sometimes by choice, or family affiliation, or simply for protection.
Northsides Swiss is one of many OGz that got to see the growth of Hip Hop in his own Bronx community and even rapped to Flavor Flav back in the 80s when they lived on the same street. At first glance, one might think that Swiss is just another NY gangster rapper; but his flow, lyrics, and voice transcends that. “I can’t deny that the streets raised me, probably more than my parents did. I’ve seen friends die right in front of me and I’ve been harassed by cops just for standing outside my house while carrying my daughter when she was baby,” said Swiss. Although he was never really in a gang, his music initially got a lot of attention from the gang scene in his area. However, he knew that he had to break away from those affiliations if he wanted to expand his music.
Swiss’ music career spans over 2 decades, in which he has done some writing for major rap and r&b artists, performed at various venues around the east coast, and put together his own music projects. “I had opportunities to sign and work with labels but chose not to get blinded by the attention that comes with the fame. I wanted to show my children that I made it and that they can change and make it also,” said Swiss. He has also helped various artists in different aspects such as song construction, recording, performing, etc.
“Growing up in New York was rough” said Swiss. For most of his childhood, Swiss’ father was in and out of jail and was primarily raised by his single mother. As the oldest child, he always felt like he had to look out for his siblings and be the man of the house at a young age. One day, his father got released from jail and showed Swiss and his siblings how to construct some rap bars, and even wrote a little verse for him. “Despite my father’s absence, teaching me about music and writing was probably the most priceless gift he gave me. I never forgot that verse and I never stopped writing and rapping ever since” said Swiss. At the end of the day, Swiss mentioned that he does music for the love and passion of sharing his story and being able to vibe with the crowd at live performances, which he enjoys doing the most.
Swiss’ voice and flow reminds me of other New York pioneers like Big Pun. While often credited for making party music, he states that he likes to blend the party vibe while keeping it real with lyrics that come from more personal and darker spaces. “I feel that life is a cycle of pain and pleasure and sometimes you just gotta remember to smile, and take the good with the bad” said Swiss. He went on to express that “one thing I’ve seen in the changing music industry is that there are a million different ways to ‘make it,’ you just gotta stay creative and stay real to your story and your own message.”
Today, Swiss continues to write, record, and push out his own projects, including his “PAIN” and “Party Next Door” EPs. His latest single, “Muzik” (Produced by Churchboy Beats) sold worldwide across a number of streaming and download platforms. The single expanded his name to other countries and Swiss soon found that he had fans in Africa messaging him about his music. He is also now a proud father, with his oldest daughter Kaila currently delving into music. She is only 11 years old and just recorded her first song called “I Aint Playing.” Check out Swiss across his various music and social media channels, you won’t be disappointed.
OTDHipHop is an independent music blog and network, curated by Rapper/Blogger Jehzan Exclusive.