Swiss is well-known as a talented lyricist from the So Solid Crew and has had hits like Broken Silence and Cry. So with music under his belt he has decided to go from making tracks to writing text. Flavour caught up with him to find out more about Spot the Difference, a book that encourages young people to expand their minds and focus on the limitless possibilities of their potential and to look within themselves for solutions, rather than solely at others.
So what made you decide to write a book geared at young people?
There are a lot of very negative situations going on in our communities pertaining to young people, mainly violence and they don’t know their past, their history, which are things that facilitate their negative conditioning today. Usually I’d write a song, but I didn’t think that a song would be the best format to say what I wanted to say and get into more detail. So I thought that a book would give me the freedom to go into further detail and get out the information I wished to share with them. I saw a news bulletin about a stabbing that had happened, and it was the last straw for me. So I thought ‘I’ve got to say something’, and the book came from there.
How long did it take you to write Spot the Difference?
It took about two years overall, but mainly because I was working on it on and off, doing research and coming back to it.
How did you find the writing experience? Did you learn as you went along?
As I was doing it I learnt more, definitely. The best teachers are the best students, and when you study you’re learning yourself and you’re able to teach more on the subject area. As I was doing my research I discovered different things that I thought would be helpful. So yeah, it was a very good experience writing it.
Did you write Spot the Difference with your fans in mind?
I’m trying to reach out to as many of the young people who are currently listening to music like grime and hip hop. There was a study recently on the link between music and intelligence. The results found that people that listen to Lil’ Wayne and Young’ Jeezy have a lower intellect (the study can be viewed in full at www.musicthatmakesyoudumb.virgil.gr) than those who listen to classical music. I personally think that’s more to do with the vocabulary that rappers are using. It becomes integrated into the young person’s vocabulary, so they start to use more slang and these words often hold no weight in society. That’s why I decided to publish the book under Swiss, to attract those young people that are on the streets and who have heard my music before.
How did you come up with the title for the book?
I thought that if you apply what’s in the book to your life people will be able to spot the difference in you.
When young people are reading your book is there anything in particular that you want them to take from it?
I think they should become students of different cultures and the world in general. It’s important to have a global overview so that they can understand and relate to people of different cultures more. A lot of young people who are growing up today don’t get to visit new places and see different things. I just want to encourage them to respect different cultures and look at the origins of where their families came from, and become their own teachers by studying. Studying is more than going by what you learn in school, it’s about opening their minds and raising their consciousness in general.
I’m relating to them as a person who has come from where they’ve come from, from the angle of being a heavy smoker, listening to hip hop a lot or maybe a drug dealer as I was. I’m coming from that sort of background and I’ve made something of myself by learning a lot of things and just coming out of the box that people might have thought I was in. And I’m just encouraging them to do that also, you know there’s a bigger world out there.
Do you feel that your music will now be more reflective of the content of your book, rather than the content of the past few albums?
Yeah, it’s going to be broad. Things that I have said before and things that I’m saying now will appeal to everyone.
How would you describe your book in four words?
Conscious, real, beautiful and inspiring
What other ways have you been reaching out to young people?
I’m doing an educational tour at the moment, going round to different schools, colleges and universities. There are a lot of people who are on the same wavelength as me and by this I mean, coming out of their box of what has been taught. Stepping away from the Eurocentric way of seeing the world and looking at it from different cultural perspectives. That’s what I mean by new found consciousness. It’s good, there are people that are at different levels, and not all fruits ripen at the same time.
What words of advice would you give to any young people have a message they want to get out?
Work on your communication skills, try and follow truth and don’t be biased. Use all of the different outlets of communication you have access too to reach people. Nowadays you’ve got the internet, internet radio, radio and books.
Spot the Difference is available from Amazon.co.uk, all good bookstores or directly from Swiss’ MySpace page www.myspace.com/swisssosolid
Swiss’ album entitled One in a Million will be available to buy this summer.
Words by Natalie Vincent