His real name is Steve Dang, affectionately known to his fans as Yung Swiss and he’s on a meteoric rise to stardom in Mzansi’s hip hop industry. The Cameroonian-born rapper first lit up the airwaves with the track I Love It featuring rapper Reason. He cemented his name among the youngins to look out for when he dropped the smash David Genaro last year, a tribute to the malevolent character from the soap opera Rhythm City. We roped in the rapper from Rossetenville to discuss his entry into the music industry, his musical background and what he attributes his early success to.
QuenchSA: What inspired the stage name Yung Swiss?
Yung Swiss: Well…when I was growing up things were very tough with my dad and when I left the house I was going through a lot of stuff. I reached the point where the only time I was ever happy or myself was when I was under some substance. Swiss stand for Stressed When I’m Strapped or Sober – an acronym I came up with when I start rapping. The Yung is because the dream has always been to stay young forever.
QuenchSA: You had differing visions for your future with your father. Why was that the case?
Yung Swiss: He had a vision for me that I didn’t have for myself. But because I was gifted at soccer, he thought maybe that was the way out. I had a different vision, I wanted to do music, it has always been my first love… I loved music way more than soccer.
QuenchSA: When did you realize that music is what you wanted to do for a living?
Yung Swiss: I was in grade 10 in class with my best friend at the time and I took his book and found lyrics instead of school work… That kind of inspired me. At first it was a hobby, something I did in my spare time. Eventually I fell in love with it when I started recording in 2010 when I got my own computer and started making my own music. Obviously it was hard at first, then I met PlayGround production and things started flowing from there, did my first feature with Reason I Love It which opened up a few doors and then I dropped David Genaro and Rhythm City made it their soundtrack, things started popping off from there.
QuenchSA: The come-up is always characterized by many hardships and breakthroughs. How did you manage to overcome all the gatekeepers?
Yung Swiss: It’s a matter of consistency, you just have to tell yourself that this one thing is going to happen for you and eventually it will happen. You don’t have to let hardships get in the way of you making it…its something I always knew it was going to happen for for me. I feel like the hardships actually helped me to become the person that I am today because I feel like the hardships build your character. Even the fact that people closed doors on me I told myself that no one owes me anything, you build your own success. From the time I left my father’s house I never stopped working. I guess that’s what got me here.
QuenchSA: Your EP Bottom Baby featured some of Mzansi’s hip hop heavyweights. How did you manage that on your first project?
Yung Swiss: The EP features Astryd Brown, Nadia Nakai, KO and Stanley Enow. Astryd is my label-mate so that was easy. I’ve been working with Nadia Nakai ever since she started working with Family Tree. She records at my studio and we’ve been very good friends. Plus I needed her influence on my EP so I asked her for a verse. I met KO through the Cashtime Life management team when they offered me a deal last year. Things didn’t go according to plan but we kept a good relationship. Since he heard the music he’s been willing to work. Stanley Enow is like the biggest artist in Central Africa so I’ve always wanted to work with him.
QuenchSA: Your versatility is quite evident throughout your EP. What comes more naturally, singing or rapping?
Yung Swiss: For me I don’t find music hard at all, everything is simple. I actually get driven by the beat and also my mood on the day. Sometimes I wake up and I’m in my feelings and I feel like spitting some emotional stuff and sometimes I want to Trap…I feel like its a gift, I can’t really say I’m better when I rap but obviously the fans have their preference.
QuenchSA: Your album is on its second month. What did you think of its reception?
Yung Swiss: The reception has been crazy, I didn’t expect it. A lot of people I haven’t seen a negative comment yet and people are already requesting videos so its going to be a great year.
QuenchSA: Your collaboration extend beyond SA borders. Is that the long term strategy?
Yung Swiss: Definitely! The plan is to actually get out of the continent. The plan for this year is to make as many international collaborations as possible because we don’t want to box ourselves at PlayGround Production. Obviously I want to start in Africa and work with people like Burna Boy, Wiz Kid and Davido and then hopefully we can stretch out to the world.
QuenchSA: Mayo was a great fusion of talent and different musical backgrounds. how did that come about?
Yung Swiss: The genius behind Mayo was Speedsta, I worked with Speedsta on the David Genaro Remix we did and from there we became good friends. I got the beat from Gemini Major and did that Mayo chorus. It was actually a freestyle and I didn’t know it was going to be this big. Sent it to Speedsta and he put it together. He told me he didn’t want to go with the more established artists, he wanted it to be a talent thing. So he reached out to the talented kids, he reached out to Tellaman, Shane Eagles and Frank Casino.
QuenchSA: The chorus on Mayo was a freestyle. Do you write any of your material?
Yung Swiss: No! Actually I don’t write on paper or script. I think of 8 bars and then go into the studio. I feel like the moment you start writing you loose the flow. It’s always like a moment thing.
QuenchSA: Which artist are you currently listening to?
Yung Swiss: To be real, its really hard to impress me when it comes to music…I like songs like Dreamworks by AKA, I like the one song from A-Reece‘s album Run Around Jozi and I like the joint that Nasty C just dropped Golden.
QuenchSA: What can we expect from Yung Swiss in 2017?
Yung Swiss: I’m trying not to feature on many people, I’m trying to be exclusive. Even though a lot of people are hitting me up, I’m being very selective of who I’m working with. For my own stuff I’m dropping a video for the single Jungle featuring KO, I’m already working on the album, hoping to drop it around August this year. But you can expect a feature with Nomuzi, a track with Major League so its going to be a crazy year.