With cuts across albums from Travis Scott, Nick Minaj, Tyga and Christina Milian, artist collabs with T-Pain and Grand Theft, a multitude of rap battle championship titles and a role in the forthcoming movie Straight Outta Compton (produced by Dr. Dre and Ice Cube), Philadelphia’s Philly Swain is the ultimate four star threat – rapper, music producer, songwriter and actor; but his ascent to the major leagues has been anything but smooth.
From humble beginnings in Southwest Philadelphia, where he’s still known as a local street ball legend, a young Philly (born Darin Swain) was quickly snapped up by the now infamous label Takedown Records.Touring with Jay Z, Clipse, Dip Set and Missy Elliot, things were looking bright for Philly until a wrong move saw him serve three years in jail, and his album was duly shelved. By the time he was released, the label head, Alton ‘Ace Capone’ Coles, had been indicted on federal charges and Takedown had been taken down. This crazy time in Philly’s life was documented in Viacom’s documentary The Hustle Diaries, directed by Barry Michael Cooper (New Jack City / Above The Rim / Sugar Hill).
Where others may have faltered, Philly Swain rose again and within months of his release, he was building a name for himself as a battle rapper. After becoming the first winner from Philadelphia on Freestyle Fridays, he went 31-0 on MTV’s Fight Club and when his Grind Time battle premiered on worldstarhiphop.com, it racked up over 1 million views in less than a week, surpassing Beyonce’s Single Ladies video, before finally settling on a WSHH record-breaking 3.5 million total views.
With a nomination for Philadelphia’s Hip Hop Artist of the Year under his belt, Philly started delving into the world of TV and was cast as a guest on BET’s hit show 106 & Park, before starring in his own show The Swagger Family. During this time, he released his debut album Mr. Philadelphia via a JV with Sony/Swagger Family/NuGroove and the It’s Dad mixtape.
In the MC battlefield, Philly was still holding his own, winning the Eminem Red Bull Tournament as Best MC in Philadelphia and placing in the final in Detroit. Competing across the world in multiple battle leagues was taking away from Philly’s time in the studio and so, at the top of his game, Philly decided to retire, but not before another documentary was made. Called The Last Battle, this film focuses on Philly’s battling career, leading up to his very last battle.
Keen to focus on his music production, after a move to Los Angeles, Philly set up Parade Productions with long-time partner in crime, A&R / Management Consultant Andy Kabamba (Young Money Cash Money), along with Grammy nominated Andre Proctor aka Dre Moon (Beyonce’s Drunk In Love / Drake, Future). Together they went on to sign the Grammy nominated Kemion Cooks aka ChoppaBoi (Wiz Kalifa’s We Dem Boys, Lil Wayne) and Valentino Paula aka Traknologist / Traks (Nicki Minaj, D.Goode of Bad Boys, Naam Brigade, Sap The Beat).
Philly himself has been in the studio with an incredible roster of some of the world’s biggest artists; Diplo, Future, Travis Scott, Nick Minaj, Tyga, T-Pain, Christina Milian, Grand Theft, G Eazy and so many more. Building as an artist as well as a producer and writer, his recent track “Mancini feat. T-Pain” was premiered by The Fader and sets Philly up nicely for his own artist release, coming later in the year, with some very, VERY exciting features.
Proving his four star threat isn’t waning, Philly also just wrapped a role in the NWA movie Straight Outta Compton, produced by none other than Dr. Dre and Ice Cube themselves, in theatres now.