An icon of hip-hop culture and a pivotal part of the MTV News team, Sway has been a staple of the music-news arena for more than a decade.
From giving Eminem and Notorious B.I.G. their very first radio airplay on his local show in the mid-’90s to providing television viewers with their first good look at J. Lo’s pink engagement ring from Ben Affleck in an exclusive MTV News interview, Sway has been there for some of music’s biggest moments.
In 2004 Sway was a key correspondent for MTV’s Choose or Lose campaign, which surpassed its goal of getting 20 million 18- to 30-year-olds to the polls, and played a vital role in informing young voters about the power they could have on election day. He interviewed Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie on “Total Request Live” to introduce Reggie the Registration Rig, the Republican Party’s mobile registration unit, and reported on the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network’s conference to engage and inform young black voters. Sway also co-moderated a panel on “Hate Crimes and How to End College Racism” at the 95th NAACP Annual Convention in July 2004. While in Philadelphia for the convention, he took to the streets with hip-hop mogul Diddy to register young voters and tell them about the issues that are were stake in that election year.
Sway also reported for MTV News from both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. He joined the cast of “The West Wing,” Rock the Vote and Esquire magazine at the Esquire House in Los Angeles to host an evening called Young Hollywood Votes! on the night of the final presidential debate. He appeared at Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/Push Coalition conference to discuss the opportunities that exist for young blacks in today’s society. In addition, Sway hosted “Choose or Lose: Drug Wars,” a special that explored the ways each presidential candidate’s views on drug policy could affect young voters on — and after — election day.
Already a vanguard radio personality, record producer and hip-hop artist when he joined the MTV News team in summer 2000, Sway has contributed MTV News reports during the live, one-hour interactive hip-hop show “Direct Effect,” for which he interviewed such acts such as Diddy, DMX, Master P, the Roots, Mystikal and Scarface. Sway was also MTV News’ chief correspondent on the Sean Combs trial in 2001 and recently served as the host of 2003′s MC Battle, which drew thousands of aspiring hip-hop artists to Times Square for an extraordinary rap showdown.
Sway’s recent MTV News endeavors have included “All Eyes on 50 Cent,” which took fans beyond the mystique of the hottest rapper around in an exclusive in-depth interview; and a special report called “MTV News Now: Jay-Z Vs. Nas: Beats, Battles & Beef,” which examined the ongoing feud between the two rap heavyweights. Sway also landed the first sit-down interview with the surviving members of Run-DMC after Jam Master Jay’s 2002 murder.
In August 2005 Sway interviewed Kanye West for “All Eyes on Kanye West,” in which the superstar rapper/producer revealed, among other things, his feelings about homosexuality in rap music. Sway also traveled to Houston’s Astrodome in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to meet families torn apart by the disaster; his experiences were part of “MTV News Presents: After the Storm.”
In addition, Sway is an integral part of MTV News’ annual live-event coverage, including MTV Video Music Awards’ “Opening Act” and post-show event, and Grammy pre-show reporting. He also serves as a correspondent for MTV Daily News, including segments for “Total Request Live.”
Sway first caught the public’s eye in the late ’80s/ early ’90s when he and his partner King Tech (Tech) staged break dancing and rap performances in and around their hometown of Oakland, California. Recognizing Sway’s instincts for great sound and promising talent, Interscope enlisted him and Tech to produce an album called This or That, which featured many of the same exciting new acts that had been introduced to the world on “The Wake Up Show,” including Eminem, KRS-One and RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan.
In January 2004 MTV premiered “The Wake-Up Show,” a televised version of Sway and Tech’s radio show, which featured Sway’s interviews with today’s hottest celebrities and the other elements that have made the radio show an force to be reckoned with in the genre.