Derek Andrew Safo (born 5 September 1982) is a English hip hop artist of Ghanaian origins, who uses the stage names Sway DaSafo or simply Sway; he is also a full-time producer, establishing DCypha Productions.
Sway was born to a Muslim father and to a christian mother. Sway attended Redlands Primary School where he spent most of his
time experimenting with music, rewriting the lyrics of his favorite artists. He attended Highgate Wood Secondary School in North London where he spent his spare time using the school equipment for musical production. Producing tracks for local artists,
he was told to use his personality to write songs by adding his humor with his lyrical talent. Sway is the cousin of former Arsenal footballer Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, who is currently playing for Al-Sadd. At the age of 16. Sway had a place in the grand final
of an open mic session at Dingwalls in London. He lost to Chester P of Task Force while Sway was a member of Tottenham-based hip hop trio Phynix Crew. Sway produced many solo singles despite being in a rap group and his first break was under the name 'Sway DaSafo' on the track "On My Own" which reached the A-list of BBC Radio 1Xtra when the station was launched.In 2003, Sway started to pursue a solo career in the British music scene. He was invited by his cousin, DJ Ink, to feature on some of his drum and bass tracks and he became a member of the group Fifth Element. In 2004, Sway established DCypha Productions to enable him to release his mixtapes and debut solo album, This Is My Demo. At DCypha, Sway produces his beats and songs alongside his long-time friend Bigz.
Sway launched his solo career upon the disbanding of his group One by releasing two independent mixtapes, called This Is My Promo Volumes 1 and 2. They were underground successes, and his debut LP This Is My Demo was released on 6 February 2006. Its second single, "Little Derek", headed
in at #38 on the UK national charts. His song "Hype Boys" is used in the video game Need for Speed: Carbon, and the song "Flo Fashion" is used in the video game FIFA Street 2.
Following the release and critical acclaim of his debut album, Sway started recording his second album which he had been planning from the This Is My Promo mixtape series. In the run up to the album's release, Sway featured on numerous songs and signed to Akon's Konvict Muzik record label in 2007, becoming the only UK artist to be signed to the label. Sway released the One for the
Journey EP on May 14, 2007 on his DCypha Productions label which featured an appearance from Chamillionaire on a Part 2 version of "Up Your Speed". Following this, Sway released two mixtapes: The Dotted Lines and The Signature mixtape. The Dotted Lines mixtape was released in early 2008 and announced the recording of his second album. It was released to coincide
with the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, which was hosted in Ghana and to which the song "Black Stars", a remix of "Black Boys" by Bashy, is dedicated.In December 2009, Sway announced that he was working on a new mixtape, and unveiling two tracks in the process:
"Payback" and "The Watcher". Sway then released a download-only single on iTunes named "Everyday Valentine" to coincide withValentine's Day in 2010. He offered those who were able to provide evidence for purchasing the single the opportunity to receive his mixtape prior to its release for free. The mixtape was due to be released on February 14, 2010, however this was pushed back due to continued work by Akon on the final song. The mixtape was released on February 26, 2010 from his website, to the public for free. It has been described online as 'better than most people's albums' and will feature Akon, Styles P, Kardinal Offishall, Giggs, Bigz and Mr Hudson. The Mixtape has been a smash hit online, boasting over 10,000 downloads in 10 days, both with the fans, other artists and critics and was reviewed by British Newspaper Metro who picked up on Sway's "trademark sharp
humor and quirky observations" going on to say that Sway "will reign over British rap sooner rather than later." His reputation rose from underground to mainstream after coming into the public eye by winning a MOBO award in September 2005 for Best Hip Hop Act, defeating heavyweight hip hop artists 50 Cent
and The Game to collect the award. He was also nominated for the second year running in the Best Hip Hop category and Best UK Male for the MOBO awards held at the end of September 2006 and in September 2008 for Best UK Male. In July 2006, Sway's album This Is My Demo was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize but the award was won by the Arctic Monkeys at the ceremony on September 6. In 2008, Sway was nominated for two awards at the Urban Music Awards. In November 2006, Sway won a BET Hip-Hop Award for "Best UK Hip-Hop Act", beating Blak Twang, Plan B, Dizzee Rascal and Kano. By being nominated and winning the BET for "BEST UK Hip-Hop Act", Sway appeared in a video showing himself in a cipher with Saigon, Remy Ma, and Rhymefest free-styling on a rooftop in New York. The freestyle was featured on The Dotted Lines mixtape.