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Artists of Color: Meet Sækyi

[Featured image photo by Kadeem Morris/@jamrockdawg]

Reigning from Woodbridge, Virginia, 22-year-old rapper Sækyi (pronounced “Sah-kee”) has accomplished things other rappers his age still struggle with. He’s unique. He’s entertaining. And he’s good. He knows exactly what he wants his songs to be about and executes this with the swagger and confidence of rappers that got their start in the 1990s. With his baritone, melodic voice, Sækyi raps about all things from religion to his relationship with his mother.

Seeing as how we went to high school together and I didn’t recognize him by his stage name, I just had to catch up with him. Check out the interview below:

It seems like everyone these days has tried their hand at rap. But you’re different. You’re good. What drove you to take this seriously and establish yourself as an artist? To put out your first song? Who are your influences? 

Sækyi: First off, thank you for saying that. I’ve really always been connected to music throughout my life. Then in 2018, when I dropped my first official single “Suicide Bomber,” something clicked and I started to believe I could have a career in music. As far as influences go, I find them in a lot of things, not just people. Mostly I’m influenced by situations and speaking from different perspectives. But sonically, my biggest inspiration is Michael Kiwanuka.

Silver Sækyi. (Photo by Gabriel E. Eyamba)

One of my favorite things about hip-hop is how easy it is to produce, especially with computers enabling so much. But your sound is anything but lazy and goes beyond that of simple SoundCloud rappers.  With a world of sounds at your fingertips, how do you begin to choose what you want? What moods do you try to evoke?

Sækyi: I’m the type of person who creates not by force, but by inspiration. So really, the instrumental has to speak to me before I even think about writing to it. From there it’s really just whatever’s on my mind at the time. When I wrote “Free Fall,” I was internally having questions about my faith, and that came out in the song. I really try to put as much of myself in the music as possible.

So you actually created your own label, twoFaced. How did that come about? Where did the name come from? Where do you see this label in the future?

Sækyi: The name twoFACED comes from my connection to being a Gemini. I realized that as an independent artist, my brand would be what sustains me in the long run. So I created twoFACED as the home to that brand and all my music. I see endless possibilities for it in the future, maybe helping some artist under it along the way.

Sækyi repping twoFACED. (Photo by Kadeem Morris)

You mentioned “Free Fall” earlier, which is actually my favorite song of yours so far. In that song, you speak about others and say: “They some products of the moment. I was here to see ’em come, and I’ll be here to see ’em going. I’m evolving when they molding.” What do you think artists who are products of this moment and this moment only represent? What or who do you hope to evolve into?

Sækyi: I feel like that line really is just about those people who don’t take the art seriously. To mold is to take the shape of another instead of truly doing the work to be yourself. So to me, it represents a reminder of what not to be. I hope to evolve into the best version of myself, in and out of music.

Another thing that sets you apart from other rappers is that you do more than just features in your songs. You can tell it’s a much more collaborative effort. You’ve worked with artists from fellow local legends like Cammy Dub$ to Egyptian R&B singers not.fay. How do you get those collaborations started? Who’s one artist you always wanted to collaborate with?

Sækyi: When it comes to Cammy, most times it’s just an in-the-moment kind of thing. He has a hard verse, and that makes me want to outdo him on his own [stuff]. But I’ve made it a point to not work with people I don’t really know or have a relationship with. I think that decision has made all of my collabs that much more personal. As far as who I’d like to work with, that’s a really long list. In the short term though, I’d love to work with Al-doms, Deante’ Hitchcock, and this group called Lo Village.

Stage Sækyi – Cammy Dub$ (left) and Sækyi (right) live at the Smith Public Trust in Washington, DC. (Photo by Ben Calilao)

With a global pandemic and heightened racial tensions, it’s been a challenging year, to say the least. How has this affected your music? Your creative process?

Sækyi: Honestly, 2020 really changed my whole perspective on the world. It forced me into a hyper-intrinsic space, where talking about bull wasn’t allowed. This made all my music more personal with less wasted words. 

What’s a bar you wish you wrote?

Sækyi: “As I look down at my dying man (Diamond) encrusted piece” from Kanye West’s “Power.” Really, just an all-around crazy bar.

What bar would you give someone who’s never heard of you? What would hook them in and perfectly introduce you?

Sækyi: I’d give them the starting lines of Free Fall: “What it mean to be free? I told her everything”. This line perfectly describes my thinking and my personal goal in life. To me [that song] is the perfect introduction into my mind and developing sound.

Your latest single, “Kink,” just dropped on Tuesday, Feb 16. Can you tell us more about that? What inspired it?

Sækyi: “Kink” is one of the byproducts of quarantine in 2020. With me being in a dark space, my [subject] matter reflected that. The song really is just about the worst kinds of relationships. Where one person uses the other and has a kink for being toxic. We’ve all seen it sometimes even been in this position ourselves, so I felt like it would be a good topic to speak on.

You’re a young artist, which makes your music all that more exciting. What can fans expect from you in the future? Have any new tricks up your sleeve?

Sækyi: The biggest thing everyone should expect is my debut EP I got coming soon. But other than that, everyone should always expect more music, visuals, and merch from me. As far as tricks, I got few. But for real, I’m just getting started, honestly, and I plan to be doing this for the rest of my life. So I promise you’ll be seeing more of me.

Subway Sækyi. (Photo by Cameron Smith)

You can check out Sækyi and his new single, “Kink,” out everywhere now. Stay tuned for his debut EP!

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