Photos by Cam Kirk, courtesy of CyHi the Prynce
Where were you when you first heard CyHi The Prynce rap, “I met this girl on Valentine’s Day, fucked her in May, she found out about April so she chose to march”? On My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’s “So Appalled,” the relatively unknown Atlantan upstaged Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Pusha T, immediately rocketing himself into the consciousness of rap listeners worldwide.
Successful outings on G.O.O.D. Music’s Cruel Summer compilation, as well as solo projects such as Ivy League Club and Black Hystori Project, soon followed, but seven years after CyHi’s coming out party, it still feels like he has yet to make his definitive statement. He may have five Grammy nominations under his belt as a co-writer of Kanye songs, but he still doesn’t have an actual album to his name.
After years of delays, CyHi’s official debut, entitled No Dope on Sundays, is finally set to arrive later this summer. In contrast with his existing work, it’ll focus less on his lyrical pyrotechnics and more on his coming-of-age story on the east side of Atlanta, though knowing the way he tends to spit, you can expect thrilling bars along the way. The album will show the full spectrum of CyHi’s world, and fittingly features talent from all over the hip-hop landscape, from trap music progenitor Shawty Redd to modern-day star Travis Scott.
Fresh off a tour with Lil Wayne and hard at work putting the final touches on No Dope on Sundays, CyHi hopped on the phone with MERRY JANE to give us a taste of what to expect from the project he’s been waiting a long time to deliver.
MERRY JANE: Hey, how are you CyHi? How's life?
CyHi The Prynce: Perfect, man. Perfect. Finishing the album.
So you just got off tour recently?
Yeah, I was out there with Lil Wayne. We did a few dates together, some colleges and some stadiums.
What’s the main difference between playing colleges versus other venues?
Well the college kids are more lit, I can say that. They just like having fun, but you go to, like, concert halls and they're more intrigued by what you're saying, they're more there for the music. Kids are there to dance and have fun.
Did you get to actually kick it with Wayne that much?
Well I did once, but the thing is, I was on a radio promo tour, so I would have to leave right after the show to get to the next radio interview. But we linked up once, me, Mack Maine, Wayne, and everybody — we have the same management.
Was the radio stuff mostly album promo?
Yeah, I'm about to drop my new single, so we gotta get it all together to let people know that the first bomb is coming.
Is that the track with Schoolboy Q that you've been teasing?
Yessir. It'll be out before June 11th.
From one to 100 percent, how finished are you with the album right now?
Oh man, I'm at about 85%. Yeah, it's there, we're just mixing and mastering at this point.
How long have you been working on it?
About a year, no longer than a year and a half.
But you've had other projects in the works for a few years too. How does No Dope on Sundays differ from those?
This album here is more about my life. It's less about me being creative or having dope records or whatever. A lot of people know me for being a good rapper, but they don't know where I get a lot of my style from, and they haven't heard my stories. This is the album that shows all of those things. I just want to give the fans something organic, something that was more me, versus just me having fun. It's really like a musical that gives this Sunday-to-Sunday vibe that's about things that young men go through in the city. So I just brought it to life and set it to music.
When you say Sunday-to-Sunday, do you meant that it's sort of a day-in-the-life structure?
Yeah, it was a part of my life when I was younger when we went to a party on Saturday but it went over into Sunday night. And then one of my partners got in a fight at the party, and then one of them got shot, and a lot of things turned inside out after that, so it was like a dope story.
Was that a turning point in your life?
Absolutely. It was a big one. Letting me know like, “I gotta start thinking ahead with this music, and start doing something different than I'm currently doing.”
How long ago was that?
This was when I was like 15. But like I said, once you hear this story, you'll kind of know who CyHi is, and you'll be able to piece together the rest of the story.
And since then you've pretty much been going hard on music?
Definitely. Well, I was still doing what I wasn't supposed to be doing, but gradually moving towards just focusing on music.
I read that you picked the title as a "challenge" to listeners and to your hometown community. Can you elaborate on that?
At the end of the day, it's about giving some type of structure to our neighborhood, giving some type of guidelines. You get to the point where you just do anything you gotta, guys just running around, having no respect for nothing. So what we wanted to do was give guys a chance to reflect, assess the situation, understand what's going on with their lives. Once you do that, you've got a better way of thinking. And it helps the community.
Back in the day, when you was a hustler, you still had to do certain things in the community to make sure the neighborhood was straight. Just determining a certain protocol on that end, I thought that'd be dope to have that come from a rapper. I always wanted someone like Jay-Z to do it, but then I thought, “You know, why don't I do it?”
So you've seen a change from the way things worked when you were younger, and now the new generation doesn't really take that code of ethics into account?
I mean, they don't take it into account, but a lot of times, they don't really know.
Yeah, sometimes you can't blame the kids.
You can't blame kids, but you can blame the parents that's raising them, and a lot of kids don't even have them. So that's what I realize I am in music. A lot of guys look up to me with their own music, especially younger guys, so I'm just trying to reshape something but still keep it authentic.
So in keeping it confined to this theme, what producers have you worked with on the album?
Outside of my in-house producer, I have S1 on the album, Honorable C-Note, Shawty Redd, Lex Luger — I just want that vibe of early Atlanta days.
Wow, it sounds like it's gonna be all over the place. I mean, S1 and Lex Luger are pretty opposite ends of the spectrum.
Exactly. What I want to do is show my upbringing, so a lot of it is youthful because it's about where I started, but then it gradually grows. It brings you to the next Sunday and to church and spirituality, but it takes you through this journey of shootouts, betrayal, dealing with women, chasing your dreams — it's a melting pot.
So when you were that age, were gospel music and, speaking of Shawty Redd, early Gucci Mane equal influences on you?
Exactly. Growing up on the Eastside, you listen to Gucci and all these rappers, but then you've got a mother or father who tries to keep you away from it and get you into gospel, jazz, oldies. I'm kind of a product of all of those things.
And who's the executive producer of the album?
Right now it is Kanye West but we're working with Mike Dean as well. I started the album with Kanye, but then he got ill, so I didn't get to go into the studio with him a lot. So it's me, Mike, and Ye. I got the first part of the album from Ye, then I went and got Mike Dean's expertise.
I know you've said that the G.O.O.D. Music album Cruel Winter has been complete for a while, but has any progress been made on putting that out?
Well Ye's back working on some music — I don't know what he's actually working on, I just know he's in the studio. But hopefully we get that done. All we need is really me and Travis Scott, but I hope we get it done.
You two have mostly been the driving forces behind that album?
Yeah, absolutely. We were on the Pablo tour together for two weeks, so we did a lot of it there, and then a lot of it at the end of Pablo, the album.
And you guys have a good chemistry working together?
Yeah for sure. Trav's on my album as well.
And after you get your album out, what are you plans for the rest of the year?
Touring and touring and touring, and working on another album while I'm touring. I've taken two years off to recalibrate, so I'm ready to [mimics the sound of a pistol] pew pew pew! I'm ready to shoot off all my bullets at one time, and I've got a lot of them. I'm just gathering everything up for a beautiful release, and more dope releases to come. I'm going at these folks' throats.
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