CyHi the Prynce has came a long way from being the young rapper on the come up in 2010 to being one of the greatest rappers to touch a mic today. After 5 mixtapes and 1 compilation album with G.O.O.D Music he released his highly anticipated mixtape The Black Hystori Project in February. The project was executive produced by Kanye West and featured some up and coming artists like: King Louie, Miloh Smith and Marian Mereba along with a gang of producers who helped create the overall sound. To call it a mixtape is an understatement.
CyHi is known to lyrically cause mayhem on a beat, he’s also known to touch the people’s heart when you listen to his music. This project was definitely one of the highlights of his career. Mechanical Dummy had the chance to speak to him about the mixtape, early life and his mentality to get him to this point. Here’s what he had to say.
Words by: Roger Kimbeni
Mechanical Dummy: CyHi what’s going on with you man?
CyHi: I’m doing good man, just out here on the beach, enjoying myself.
MD: After hard days of work with the tape (Black Hystori Project).
MD: I don’t even really like calling it a mixtape because that was an album right there, that was your best body of work in my opinion, how did you feel about the album?
CyHi: I mean you know what’s crazy? I think it was too at the same time because I put a lot into it and I learned a lot from the Yeezus album. Just being around that project and seeing how everything was put together. A lot of times as artists we get people who send us beats and things like that but with this one I actually did it myself. Like I actually sat down with my producers and said this is what I want, these are the samples, these are the melodies, these are the chords. A lot of the time you can actually hear my creativity as far as production, as far as ideas, and as far as my lyrics so that’s why I felt like this project was my best one. From now on that’s how I’m going to do it.
MD: You did go all in, from word play to the flow, production, the rhyme scheme, I mean you could go acapella and the tape would still bang. But that’s just Cyhi though right?
CyHi: That’s just me; you could put me in the middle of a cipher, Imma still go ape.
MD: I felt you had the best verses on the Cruel Summer mixtape.
CyHi: Most definitively
MD: Now going to the Black Hystori Project, why is Black History month important to you and how has it effected your life?
CyHi: You know what I think? I just think a lot of people I guess where I’m from don’t take our history as serious as we should but at the same time it’s like I want to make new history as well as a young artist. I tell a lot of people that it wasn’t just about black people you know? It was more about how people think that black is not beautiful, or black is just dark or black can’t be light, just the stigmatization of it. I just wanted to embody that whole feeling and show people that we can really be great. With me, the story behind me making the tape was that I have a nephew and he wanted to do his black history project on me. The school he goes to is the school I used to go to, they got me on the wall of fame. But they told him that I’m not important enough to do his black history project on me, but you could tell everybody I went to your school? You know what I mean? So I just took it upon myself to say “Imma make the black history project myself”. Make one of myself and add different people who influenced me growing up and adding that to my music. That’s how I was brought up; people don’t know that Martin Luther King’s father married my parents. So it’s like I’ve always been that revolutionist like around my friends and being about positive things, so it’s all good.
MD: Yeah no doubt, I mean you’re really caught up in the mix as well because you’re really smart , you have a lot of things going on, knowledge with bringing in history with the tape but at the same time caught up in the mix of like “we like partying” “the trap”, but yet on the tape you talk about the death of the trap. So how did it (black history) effect your life in high school when teachers were targeting you and you persevering through that?
CyHi: See my thing was when I was growing up, in public school they don’t have like a real drama class, real art class where you could create some of the things that you had bottled up. Like me, I was a very energetic kid; I just wanted to do different things. I wanted to be in the talent shows, I wanted to be in the plays, I wanted to read the news when it came on in the morning, I wanted to fight, I wanted to play on the football team, the basketball team. I wanted to do everything so I kind of think that it was too much for a public school. But if I was like in a school where there’s a lot of different activity I would’ve flourished way better, like if I was at a performing arts school I would be in movies and shit right now hahaha you know what I mean? But it was like, being a young guy in public school I was looked at as bad, or different. That kind of took me down a path where when I got kicked out of school, I had to fend for myself you know what I’m saying? And that’s where my street stuff comes in. Because you know what’s so funny about being in the street? I tell people this all the time, I didn’t realize I was in the street until I had nothing to eat, haha like you know you’re 15 years old and your mom kicks you out the house it’s like “Ok cool mom, I’m gone then” but you don’t understand how many times you come home and your mom has dinner prepared for you. Just not to have dinner prepared for you and thinking about how you’re going to eat is a rude awakening. It was like “Yo, this is real”.
MD: Yeah man, you come home and you’re asking yourself “Where’s the rug at? The couch? I gotta get all this shit myself”
CyHi: Yeah, a lot of people don’t know I was sleeping in my car. You know what I mean? So I’ve been through a lot, I don’t rap about Friday and Saturday, I call those guys weekend rappers. I rap about Sunday through Thursday, when all the real shit go on, hahaha.
MD: I feel you on that, you’ve said it in a few lyrics, It doesn’t mean anything if you’re not taking care of your responsibilities or not taking care of your kids.
CyHi: You know what’s crazy, people think that ain’t cool. I used to ask my momma “How the pastor get to drive around in a Rolls Royce or a Benz?” Here’s what my momma told me, she said “So you think all you guys worshiping the devil and selling dope all day can ride a Benz, but when you do something positive or praise the lord, the lord ain’t going to bless you with a Bently?” So I was like “You’re right” so on the same tip I feel like I’m one of the coolest niggas ever. But I stand for real shit, I stand for taking care of your kids, I stand for treating your wife or woman how she’s supposed to be treated. You still a playa to me if you faithful to your wife, you 100 with me. Other niggas be like “Ahhh this nigga caked up” Naw he ain’t caked up cause when nigga shitting in a bag or something because he got prostate cancer ain’t none of you niggas gonna be there to take care of him! Haha. So it’s like certain things like that, you have to be there to spread that message in a cool manner or a cool way. Like, Black Hystori Project was really educational. But a lot of people took it like “Yo this the hardest shit ever” they didn’t even know that I was teaching them all the way through it, see what I’m saying? Just to be able to have that balance between the two worlds made that project the best project that I’ve put out yet.
MD: 100 man, you’re mature and you can relate to the kids that are wildin’ out and what not, but I like how you brought something educational to the table as well.
CyHi: Listen, I really been shot at. After I finished getting shot at I wasn’t feeling like going to rap a song, I was super scared! You know what I mean!? These dudes get shot at and go to the club and go pop a bottle like that shit is cool, it’s like “Naw man, this ain’t cool” hahaha.
MD: Word up man, you thinking “This my life right here!”
CyHi: We still going to have fun, we still going to pop our bottles of champagne, we still going to do what we do, but at the same time we’re going to keep it clear.
MD: I feel you. Going back, how was it signing that first deal? From being in the streets to signing that deal, to being a business man now. The way you handle your music and the way you work, it’s a real business-like, you’re not just doing it just to do it. Every move is calculated and you’re somebody of importance in your community. So how did that feel? Everybody is waiting on that day; I’m waiting for my day, so I have to hear it from the OG.
CyHi: It feels good for people to be able to approach you and you affect their lives in certain ways. I tell my friends all that time, you’ve got certain rappers where the fans are just excited to see you like “Yo man, what’s good man!? I just listened to your shit the other day man, let’s gotdamn take a picture” then you’ve got people like my fans and Kendrick Lamar fans and J.cole fans and Big KRIT fans that be like “Bruh, that number 3 on Black Hystori Project? That shit touched me” you know what I’m saying? He get to crying and telling his real life story, that’s the type of fans that I like, that’s why I rap and do what I do. I’m not really into all the party rap like that because it doesn’t touch an individual like I feel like it should. But with my music, it touches them to the point where I really have had grown men crying in front of me, or young kids crying because that same thing happened to them. There’s so many songs that I do that with, that’s why on this album I wanted to keep it strictly hip hop, strictly real, one hundred percent truth, no fabrication, no nothing. It was just me, my mind and I was looking at these pictures of Marcus Garvey, I’m looking at these pictures of 2pac and Basquiat. Their lives were serious, they were having some real problems and they were rapping about real things. People don’t understand that in the 2pac’s “Brenda got a baby” video, 2pac had on all his jewelry! He had all his jewelry on but he was holding a baby in his arms, because this shit is serious. Yeah, I look cool, I’m fresh a fuck! But know that what I’m rapping about is serious. So that’s where I’m at, I commend artists like Kendrick, J.cole, I love Joey Bada$$. Those dudes are like coming from where I’m from. You can tell thatthey had mothers and fathers that was like even though they were street they had someone to tell them “this is what it is, this is right and wrong” when you’re doing music it’s pure. I love where hip hop is going right now as well.
MD: I do too; speaking of all that, you’ve been coming out with real tracks that are heartfelt for quite some time, one of my personal favorites is “Hear me out” from 2010 until now. Do you feel like there’s a huge difference between then and now with your music?
CyHi: Well there is a difference because at first, I was more of a humble rapper. The thing was where I’m from every time I would rap for somebody or rap for different artists; I would make them nervous you know what I’m saying? So they wouldn’t want to put me on their songs or nothing, because I was just going too hard you know. So I just took a step back to go do the conscience rap being the nice guy and I realized that, that ain’t what everybody wants from me, that’s not what people wanted to hear from me. They were like “What happened to dude, the best rapper alive?” So on this album, I was in the studio with Kanye West and I was actually playing “Cydel Young” from The Black Hystori Project. And Kanye heard so many dope lines and so much shit that I was saying that he stopped the music and he was like “Why are you rapping this shit like it’s just casual? Did you hear what the fuck you just said?” This is what Ye’s exact words were “Did you hear what the fuck you just said!? Stop being so fucking humble, I want you to say this shit like you was going through it at that moment” and I said “You know what Ye? You right man, I’m just going to stop being humble” So this is the year that I’m just not being humble anymore. I been that dope but I just always said it in a calm casual manner, now I’m just like fuck it, I don’t give a fuck about no casual nothing, I’m going in. I’m going tell ya’ll the truth, I don’t care who likes it, all you niggas making songs for these stripper bitches and ain’t no stripper finna A&R my project ha-ha. Take it to the strip club…Man I ain’t taking nothing to the strip club! What do you mean? This is God flow! This is God level music, this is like, c’mon man, this is around the world type of shit. So that might be the difference from what you’ve heard, I was holding my nuts the whole project.
MD: Hahaha, so you’re preparing for a tour for the project as well?
CyHi: Oh yeah this Black Hystori Project, people are eager to see it in person, if you think I’m good on the mic, you have to see me perform. That’s a whole nother energy.
MD: I don’t even know how you’re going to hold your breath with all the lyrics man.
CyHi: See that’s the coldest part about me, that’s the coldest part is how I hold my breath. You now I used to run track, I used to run the 800 meter and I learned how to breathe, that’s all we worked on all my life when I was running track was breathing. My cardio and everything is up so when you see this show you’re going to be like “How’d he do all that, all the way through, without even stumbling or nothing” that’s why I feel like that makes me special as an artist as a whole.
MD: Wow man.
CyHi: I don’t rap with no lyrics in the song, it’s just straight me on the mic so that’s where we’re going man.
MD: Final question for the black youth, what would you like to say to help inspire some of these minds? You did it all through your music but on a one to one basis what can you say to the young black kids out there trying to get it?
CyHi: Dreams are real, we can change reality with our dreams. Always remember that, as young guys and young kids. I always say let the streets be your plan B, let that be your last option, exalt all your talent, exalt all your opportunity before you just go and dive into the streets and you just throw your life away. I know so many talented guys that grew up around me. I have a friend of mine who just got out of prison after doing 8 years, and he was like a classical piano genius, so now he’s using it. He helped me on my project, like a lot of those chords and a lot of those pianos, that’s him playing on it. So when we were growing up, in school we were going to competitions in the middle of college gyms and he was getting first place and he was a black kid you know what I mean? All these people were trying to figure out “How is this black kid playing so well?” But it’s just like, you have to really tap into your talent and tap into your opportunity and that’s all I really want to tell the youth. Do not be so quick to go to the streets, I have so many friends that went to the streets so quick and now they don’t have anything left. Their opportunities and everything has left them, so that’s my biggest thing.
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