Edison born Hip Hop artist Swisha Man Slim looks to take the rapper scene by storm.
ALBANY — In the world of hip-hop, boasting is pretty much a given. It’s self-promotion, after all, that gets many artists noticed.
So when Calhoun County-born rapper Swisha Man Slim says, “The 229 needs super heroes, and I’ve got my cape in the car,” a touch of skepticism hangs in the air.
A short while later, though, after Albany-based Platinum Sound Recording Studio CEO Mario Meadows plays Swisha’s current hit “Alright, Alright, Alright” and follows it up with the jaw-dropping “Go Hard Today” and a bit later the genre-defying “Country Girl,” skepticism turns to certainty.
This man needs his cape ... he’s about to fly.
Meadows has worked with his share of budding stars over the years, pretty much every rap/hip-hop artist from the durtiest part of the Durty South at one time or another laying down tracks at Platinum Sound. So when the entrepreneur hints that Swisha can hang in the same rarified air as superduperstar Jay-Z, notice must be paid.
“Jay-Z is far and away my favorite rapper,” Meadows says. “I’d put Swisha Man Slim right up there with Jay, and Swisha’s coming for his spot. In the old days, all the rappers collaborated more, but now there’s a lot of competition.
“Swisha’s not competing with other local artists; his competition is TI, (Lil) Wayne, Drake. I feel confident this guy can take his talent anywhere.”
Born in nearby Edison, Swisha Man Slim came to Meadows’ attention at the Albany State University-Ft. Valley State University Football Classic in Columbus. The producer knew he’d found a rare talent.
“I’d been in the group Durtyville with my friend J-Real for seven or eight years when our management team just kinda went up in smoke,” Swisha said of his musical start. “J-Real went up to Atlanta, and I went to Columbus State (University) for a while. But I was still into making music.
“I met Mario when Big Nod and I shared a stage together in Columbus, and we hit it off. He’s a great-spirited guy, and after talking a little while I said, ‘Let’s get this show on the road.’ I like to be around positive people, and Mario has done a lot for his clients in Georgia, Florida and Alabama.”
Meadows was so blown away by Swisha’s Andre 3000-like vocals, the producer decided to forego the typical grind-it-out path of many local artists and shoot for a larger audience. He called on former Westover High School classmate Stokes Nielson, the soul of country hitmakers The Lost Trailers, and found a willing management partner.
“If this was going to be one of those one-and-done deals, where the plan is to try and blow up with one big hit nationally and coast off that, I was out,” Nielson said while waiting to board an airplane taking him and current Trailers bandmate Jason Wyatt on a whirlwind radio tour in new England. “If the plan was one like David Banner did in Mississippi — build a regional following in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and across the South — then I was in.
“I told Slim to write something nobody else is writing about, maybe about those country girls in Calhoun County and that area in South Georgia — and I’m not talking about those cowboy boot-wearing country girls but those urban-wise girls who are raised in the country — and the next day he sent me the rough mix (for ‘Country Girl.’) That showed me he was hungry.”
The party anthem “Alright” has already become a big local hit, championed by 96.3 Program Director Big Scoop, but Meadows says he’s “waiting for the right time” to unleash “Go Hard Today” and “Country Girl.”
“This business is all about timing,” Meadows said. “To get a (major) record deal in the South, you’ve got to get your stuff in the clubs. ‘Alright’ is Swisha’s party record, but I feel that (‘Go Hard’) is Grammy nomination-worthy. It’s got that mass appeal to it.”
Swisha said he’s proud of his new EP “Smoke Sessions,” which was released Friday and is available for download on iTunes or locally at Odyssey Records. But he insists those songs only scratch the surface of where he wants to go.
“I don’t want to be defined by a genre,” he said. “I want to change up the vibrations with my music. I’m a guy who plays music to ice to see how it changes. Ice is water, and the human body is, what, 80 percent water? I want my music to have an effect on life and on the people who listen to it.
“I can walk through gangbangers and be looked up to, but I don’t call women ‘B’s’ and ‘H’s’ in my music, and I don’t promote violence or selling drugs. This is feel-good music; I want to drop some gems of knowledge.”
Nielson offered a few gems of the knowledge he’s gained while carving out his own musical career in rough and tumble Nashville.
“This is a tough world, economically,” he said. “There aren’t a whole lot of avenues for someone trying to make it as a musician, especially in hip-hop, which can be very exclusive.
“But there’s something going on with Swisha Man Slim’s approach. He’s very inclusive with his music, and the kid definitely has talent. The stage is set for him. The only question is whether he’s ready to put in the work it’s going to take.”
Swisha will appear locally at the 96.3 Car and Bike Show at the U.S. 19 Dragway May 6.
“I’m really excited about Swisha; his album is going to go global,” Meadows said. “I really believe in this young man’s talent. Put it this way: I’ve got a six-CD changer in my car, and right now I have a Jay-Z album, a Bobby Womack album and four Swisha Man Slim mixtapes. It’s what I’m listening to.”