There is an unspoken achievement of progress within today’s musical landscape where artistic integrity is intact, evading popular culture for the sake of mainstream appeal and sticking to substance. When it comes to hip-hop, the measure of authenticity boils down to a seemingly antiquated creed: avoid selling out. Enter triple threat and Dallas Texan, LB Swan, a founding member of the Southern Super Friends (affectionately known as SSF), and an eclectically talented lyricist and producer. Following his highly successful 2016 release LB Trump, LB Swan coasted by until the SSF collective’s summer debut, Off The Top, made waves.
Staying elusive is a key ingredient to keeping the aforementioned creed, but after some coercion, LB Swan was down for a quick interview to discuss his forthcoming project, Kill Me If You Can. His loyal and growing fan base are in for continued exponential musical progression. Those on a perpetual hunt for emerging artists and sounds from the underground, take heed.
We talked musical influences, death as a creative process, industry plants, Kanye conspiracies and more.
For those new to LB Swan, where did the name originate from?
LB: It’s a play on the concept of being heavy but graceful. When you have pull they say you have weight. Lbs.
How would you best describe the genre of music you create?
LB: Soul. I just try to have fun with it. A lot of times we get caught up in stress. I try to use that energy.
How did your involvement with Southern Super Friends begin?
LB: Three of us soon after four and five, we lived close and we all thought a lot of the stuff we were listening to was corny. In Dallas, everyone has an aesthetic. The last thing you want to be is around lames.
How does your approach differ from an SSF project vs a solo project?
LB: When we hook up for the team tapes it’s about telling our story. With the solo projects you have the freedom to tell your story.
After your release LB Trump, why Kill Me If You Can?
LB: It’s the natural cycle. The natural progression. Just like how commodities follow a boom and bust, when you enter in point of power what comes next is adversity.
Given the concept, why these people in particular? Is it coincidence or a more methodical approach?
LB: I always try to be methodical. The passion shows through the details. I wanted to make sure every piece of this project stemmed from the concept. All the titles are names of influential persons of color. Every single one of those people were assassinated in name or body.
Do you feel connected to these individuals? In what ways?
LB: I wouldn’t say I feel connected. I’ve never met these individuals. They just happened to be the perfect paint for this portrait.
“Overmydeadbody”, “Patrice Lumumba” and “Vert” are my current favorites. Can you shed some insight on the background of how those came about?
LB: “Vert” and “Overmydeadbody” seem related but they are about completely different situations. “Overmydeadbody” is a response while “Vert” is more of a declaration. “Vert” is about how quickly people forget about what you’ve done for them.
Why create a project thematically focused on death given the social climate?
LB: It’s what comes after power and with sovereignty. There’s always a person or think tank who believe they have a more legitimate claim to legislate.
Who are some of the bigger influences on your music?
LB: Lil Wayne, DH Official, Lil B, Kyoshi Ivory, Rolang, Tanpapidoug, UGK, Smooth Jeff, Cayj, Melo Medici, Boy WNDR.
How do you view the current state of Hip-Hop?
LB: There’s a lot of people killing it. Kodak [Black]. Kanye. There’s also a lot of industry plants making lame shit for lame people. That music gets no play down here.
What projects are you listening to right now?
LB: [Lil Wayne’s] Carter 5, [Kodak Black’s] Project Baby 2 — really everything: Kodak Black, [Travis Scott’s] Astroworld, [DH’s] To Whom It May Concern, and a lot of unreleased Southern Super Friends.
“Ghouls” is obviously influenced by Kanye West’s Wolves. Given his on actions to date, what are your thoughts, if any? Is he “cancelled” in your musical rotation?
LB: Wolves was dope. I think Kanye should have stuck to the version that was more rap heavy but that’s just me. Kanye really has tapped into something that we understand fully in my circles. There’s an agenda to turn the black male community effeminate. That’s why his music has been so apologetically vuglar in my opinion. It seems to me he knows exactly what he’s doing and really; Ye is seducing the public. When he says a line saying he wants to fuck his sisters it serves more than just that purpose. First off, we all want to fuck his sisters. Second, there’s something titillating about that incestuous comment. It plays to our darker nature.
I digest “Ghouls” and “Overmydeadbody” as a prelude and catalyst to the album respectively, as the following tracks are all assassinated individuals, per se. Am I on track with this premise or is this just a fan theory?
LB: Spot on. “Ghouls” preluding “overmydeadbody”. “Overmydeadbody” acting as a true intro.
I found the album more entertaining if I read up on each titled name during the song and drawing parallels from the history to the lyrics. Was that intentional?
LB: You can only hope people are interested enough to fully decipher the work. For me, it’s about conveying full thoughts at this point in my process. Short answer, yes.
There are a couple familiar samples in KMIYC, do you expect to run into the same setbacks with this as Off The Top; where other streaming platforms were unable to stream the project in its entirety?
LB: If I do, I do. I never view that as a setback. I believe it’s all apart of the process. You can always find the full director’s cut. If the commercial release is tapered back, so be it.
KMIYC reminds me of Lupe Fiasco’s Drogas Wave. Both work within the context of history to deliver the intended messages. Is there any correlation or just a creative coincidence?
LB: I’ve never heard it.
Who are the features on KMIYC? How did those different styles affect what you were already creating, if at all?
LB: Only set. Rolang, Tanpapidoug, Cayj. They helped me tell the story, especially, Rolang. He has an uncanny ability to bring that pain I’m trying to tap into and turn it into a melody.
What did you struggle with the most during KMIYC?
LB: Getting it out. I’m working on so much it’s really easy to push it to the back burner.
Any standout moments during the creation of KMIYC?
LB: Every moment that made the tape. I had to get there before I could create the vibes.
What do you hope the audience will take away from KMIYC?
LB: I just hope they have fun and some of my lines can bring them confidence in their situations.
Any last words for potential new listeners of LB Swan?
LB: More on the way.
It’s true, there isn’t enough time to sit with an artist’s work and digest it anymore due to such a high volume of weekly releases. However, LB Swan’s Kill Me If You Can, should be digested for the four course musical meal it is. Once you understand the concept there are still lyrics to break down, sound production to appreciate, and even some digging should be done in order to understand historical characters like Amilcar Cabral, Samuel Doe, and Agathe Uwilingiyimana. LB Swan has always offered his audience a unique musical experience. KMIYC remains faithful to this objective yet it contains something I hope remains a consistent part of the LB Swan package, innovation.
Listen to KMIYC on Soundcloud in its entirety until it goes live on your preferred platform.