A Conversation With Cyhi The Prynce On His Debut Album, Working With Kanye West & Getting Advice From Jay-Z
(AllHipHop Features) “It’s here. The word of God is here. The new books of the Bible will be to you in less than two months,” declared Cyhi The Prynce in the final moments of my phone call with the G.O.O.D. Music rapper/songwriter.
After releasing well-received mixtapes like Royal Flush, Ivy League Club, and Black Hystori Project, Cyhi is finally ready to deliver his debut studio album.
No Dope On Sundays is a continuation of the East Atlanta emcee’s extensive musical catalog that combines lyrical prowess with urban Gospel-like proclamations.
His work on the Kanye West albums Yeezus and The Life Of Pablo earned Cydel “Cyhi” Young multiple Grammy nominations, and now he's on the verge of offering his own official LP to the world.
In part one of my conversation with Cyhi The Prynce, we discussed No Dope On Sundays, his exit from Def Jam Recordings, collaborating with Kanye, and Jay-Z’s 4:44 album.
AllHipHop.com:Can you explain how you came up with the title for the album?
Cyhi The Prynce: The title was something I used to say every time I’d write a super-dope song. I’d be like, “My story’s going to change the streets. It's no dope on Sundays and you ain’t going to find a dime bag of weed. Then my manager was like, "You should name the album No Dope On Sundays."
When he said that, it kind of stuck with me. So I just rolled around to it for a minute, and I was like, “Yeah, let’s go with No Dope On Sundays.” I always felt like my music could touch anybody, even the most sinful people, and make them want to reflect on what they’re doing.
AllHipHop: You’ve been releasing mixtapes throughout your whole career. Why did you decide to finally release your official studio album?
Cyhi: I’ve been wanting to put out an album. My upbringing in the music industry was a lot different than other artists these days. A lot of my early start came from the streets. I was young at the time with a lot of talent. But I was always around OGs that had a lot of money. I tried to do it with my family a few times but that didn’t work.
So I tried to branch outside of that, and I got with a young guy in the music industry that worked at Def Jam. He was close to L.A. Reid. Then Def Jam and L.A. Reid parted ways. Def Jam didn’t want to drop me from the label because I wouldn’t be part of G.O.O.D. Music. The guy who left Def Jam had my rights, so I couldn’t put out new music until Def Jam and him got their situation together.
So I would put out mixtapes just to stay relevant and to build my fan base. But now that I’m clear of all those messy situations, I can finally put out music that I want to do. This was my first album I officially put together with a budget.
AllHipHop: Was that whole situation what you were referring to on “MovIn’ Around?” There’s a line where you talk about getting a release from your label.
Cyhi: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. A lot of people don’t know I left the streets for the music industry because I thought the music industry was going to save my life. But the music industry didn’t do nothing but send me back to the streets. I got my situation together, hustled my way back up, and now I’m back to putting out my album.
AllHipHop: You’re no longer on Def Jam. But are you still associated with G.O.O.D. Music?
Cyhi: Yes, definitely. When I was at Def Jam I was on an All-Star roster. Also, people knew that my friendship and writing abilities with Kanye were strong. They didn’t want to interrupt that. So I was put to the back burner just to make sure there’s somebody there to make sure the cash cow does what he has to do.
But once Travis Scott came to the team and he was part of G.O.O.D. Music but he wasn’t actually on Def Jam - he was like, “I’m on Sony.” I was like, “That would be great.” He still gets his own marketing and his own label to push him. That’s what I decided to do. I thought, “I need to get with a major outside of Def Jam to add value to my project.” Once I figured out how to maneuver, I just inked a deal with Sony Music. And it’s off to the races.
AllHipHop:You mentioned Kanye. He’s credited as an executive producer on your album. How involved was he in the creation of the album?
Cyhi: He was very involved at the beginning because I started working on the album at the beginning of the "Saint Pablo Tour." But due to his recent health issues, he kind of had to back off. He had to get his family and his life where he wanted to get it.
I had to take all the notes that he gave me and finish them off myself. What I started doing was sending it back to him and say, “How do you like that?” He would say, “You should do this. You should do that.” Then I would make the tweaks. But he was heavily involved in the beginning.
AllHipHop: You wrote with him on [The Life Of Pablo]. Can you talk about what that process is like?
Cyhi: I was like his hype man in the studio. That was kind of like my job. [laughs] I don’t want to make it seem like I’m doing everything, but I do put in a lot of work. At the same time, it's more so a brainstorming thing. He wants the best musicians, the best producers, the best engineers, the best writers, the best rappers.
He knows when I’m in there the bars got to be A-1. He knows when I’m in there the concepts and things we’re coming out with... he knows he has someone he can reflect off of what he saying, somebody who can bounce around ideas.
Also being able to see the process of how to start a record from scratch and build it to a finished product, that’s what I needed to see. That’s what I learned, and you guys will hear that growth on my album as well.
AllHipHop:You can hear that on “Nu Africa.” There was one particular line on there that caught my ear. You mentioned a bunch of different celebrities and how you would like to possibly see them contribute to helping the continent of Africa. You said something about Jay and Beyoncé buying land in Egypt. Jay dropped 4:44, and some of the themes on that album were financial independence and support of black-owned businesses. I was wondering what you thought about the messages he talked about on that project.
Cyhi: Since my album’s coming out, I can wave my flag now. For the past five years, I’ve been setting the template for the whole music industry and nobody even knew it. If you listen to Royal Flush and you listen to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, to me, that was a Royal Flush. It was just done way better.
When you listen to Watch The Throne, I was the one on that prince/king vibe. I was even in those sessions. I was supposed to be on the album. A lot of people don’t know that. So when you hear Black Hystori Project, you hear “New Slaves,” you hear “Blood On The Leaves,” you hear Yeezus.
That’s what I always brought to my peers. They gave me different ways to make my music, and when I come in the room I also bring my vibe. I also played my album for Jay-Z, and Jay-Z is the one that told me to put out “Movin’ Around” first.
We’re all family. People don’t know it, but I’m a very intricate part of that circle. So when you hear those type of similarities, that's because we’ve had conversations. That’s because we’re drinking wine at Easter together. And that’s where we want to move the world.
I love 4:44. It was incredible, and my album is kind of in that same direction. But like I said, I was the one who waved the flag first, in my opinion.
Cyhi The Prynce’s No Dope On Sundays is scheduled to be released this fall.
PHOTO CREDIT: Cam Kirk