Interview: Pharaoh SWAMI

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By Lisa Diedricks

Pharaoh SWAMI (formerly known as em.ee.zee from rap collective Died in '69) arrived in NZ with his family as a refugee from Ethiopia. If there's one thing to say about Mez it's that he's a charmer, and it’s very easy to get drawn into his persona. An outrageously charismatic dude whose real first name Mezmure, which means 'music' in ancient Amharic language, which submitting has never been so fitting. He is incredibly passionate and driven about it, and fortunately for him he is also incredibly gifted at it.

A lyricist who idolizes J.Cole above all others, which explains his scheduled release date for his debut solo content on January 28th, which is J.Cole's birthday. Amongst his obsession with J.Cole, Pharaoh SWAMI is influenced by the likes of Mick Jenkins, Kanye West, Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Lauryn Hill, John Legend, Travis Scott, Rage Against The Machine, Xavier Omar, Jaden Smith & his modern idol A$AP Rocky. This becomes apparent in his electric and diverse style of song-writing and music.

"I don't believe in genre's. I mean, I get it like we got to compartmentalize and label shit as humans to understand things but it's all just resonance and frequencies man. To understand means you are operating based on knowledge but music is all feels… and feelings matter bro".

Pharaoh SWAMI is a rapper / singer-songwriter and an artist who refuses to be put into any category. With a unique spiritual persona and a beautiful and humble outlook on life, he truly is one of a kind in this industry. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Mez for a few years now and have seen him perform many of times, and he’s one of the few artists I’ve listened to that has me picturing everything he is saying. He not only has a strong head on his shoulders, he has this incredibly sweet and calm way of looking at life that has you in an awe when you are introduced to his energy. It’s rare you find artists in this industry, that you not only connect with on a musical level but on a mental level too.

"As a species I see us all as one. Regardless of your faith or creed or race. However, in society we are seen as what we are more so than WHO we are so I find that identity crisis is the main cause of our issues as a humanity. No one really knows who they are. I do. My name is Mezmure Dawit Tekeste Arshak Estifanos Kebork and I am from Ethiopia. I do not identify as a Kiwi, but more so as a New Zealand citizen who loves this country as his home and place of upbringing. Yet, I was never made to FEEL kiwi pother than when it benefits the agenda like if I were to drink drive and kill an innocent person as well as myself you would read reports saying 'an immigrant Ethiopian man kills Kiwi in drink driving accident' but if I was the first artist here to get signed by Jay Z you'd read "Promising KIWI artist gains interest and record deal from Jay Z". I simply can't have that identity being decided for me by the media and the masses based on their preference. So I choose to hold tight to my blood line, my culture and my heritage".

This becomes apparent in his music, which is already well and truly headed in the right direction. Long story short, he met his now music manager marketing guru Myles Taylor, better known by his established DJ name Mac Mylo who is also the owner of infamous underground party and event management brand - The Black Club. They started off as DJ & MC duo till they met Shingi & Muche Murare - the twins from (Too'OnPoint). They found an outrageous amount of chemistry that inevitably resulted in them forming the ultimate collective DIED in '69 and releasing a 4 track EP together in 2016. This landed them on the stages of Rhythm & Vines & Northern Bass, SPRINGBREAK, Mardi Gras, Sounds of The Underground and as hosts of Tuesday radio night show on George FM. Their lead single off the DIED IN '69 EP clocked over 150,000 plays on Spotify.

"I'm going to risk burning bridges by saying this but F**k it, I don’t give a F**k how I come across cause I've been building my own tunnels - F**k record labels and the music industry at a corporate level. It's been 6 years that I've been crafting my art and choosing creative development over releases in order to find myself musically and to create networks within our underground scene to see what we really have to offer to the world. Trust me there's a lot we can offer, Some of the best artists in the world are broke dudes living in our cities. Minus a few who actually care about the culture but can't make the paradigm shift enough to change their structures -  our industry has proven time and time again that numbers and stats and who you know (personal over business) mean more than the merit of the vibrations and resonance that people create. I choose to do this shit independent so we the people can prove what time and time again has been ignored - Music speaks. Watch the revolution. not with just me - but the larger picture of the culture. I’m surrounded by icons and they're treated like 2nd class citizens cos their lines between dreams and reality are blurred. This next year is for the youth! Watch them all crawl back to try help and sign the same dudes they ignored when they get to the top".

From here on in - Pharaoh SWAMI is taking his solo journey in debuting his own soundscape and visuals to paint vivid pictures of his experiences, dreams and vulnerable insights in to him as an artist and as a person. He's passionate, he's patriotic to his beliefs and he blatantly has a lot to say - it might just be time we started listening.

Sunday 28th January 2018 started the launch of Pharaoh SWAMI's legacy with the release of his debut single "Father Figure" featuring some of his favorite’s in the country BLAZE THE EMPEROR & NXVA from Ammonation & Producers STUSS & Tony Douglas.

The craziest and most exciting thing is it doesn't stop there, inspired by his idol Kanye West's G.O.O.D FRIDAYS, Pharaoh SWAMI will persist on releasing a single every second Sunday for the remainder of the year. Thus, introducing the world to SWAMI SUNDAYS.

"If y'all think I'm dope. Wait till you hear the don's I look up to in this country starting with my protege Makaere Southon who will establish himself as Mak SWAMI, Jaedon Leaf my musical mentor & SWASS (Shad, Kain, Rey, Jimmy and Jay). They shouldn't have let the bull out the gate cos we see red and 2018 is raging season bruh".

His music has this insane way of taking you to a place you thought rap music had forgotten… real. His story telling has captured a true underground community of minds around NZ already and he has continued to bring the fire with his recent releases. The rap game is becoming more and more accepting of artists doing to bare minimum, as long as their songs generate a form of hype and simplistic lyrics. Artists like MEZ who genuinely have a craft, and like him spends years and years, molding and sculpting to perfection, are people that this industry needs to be reminded of. His dedication to not only the music, but to the deliverance of his work brings not only brings support, but great admiration too.

I was lucky enough to listen to some unreleased tracks, was blown away but his story telling. With underground artists throwing down their voices on some of the tracks and producers putting that final gloss on the tracks, we’re about to wonder, WHERE the F#$ has this guy been!

This is only the beginning of his introduction, something to get you all prepared. Because once he starts, he’s not stopping. Stay tuned and locked in with me in the next few weeks to see what I get up to you with MEZ and his team, and keep a look out on all the social media platforms every week to get a new song from the man himself.

Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/album/2gu64CCQQC4PwKLwfJiy32?si=9UerYp8CSqa_QoE-zHRJcw

Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/pharoahswami

Facebook Artist Page:

https://www.facebook.com/pharaohswami/

Snapchat: anonymez17

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pharaohswami/?hl=en

Website: www.mercimotel.com