CyHi The Prynce on (Finally) Dropping His Debut Album, Kanye & God
CyHi The Prynce has been putting in work since 2010 when he released his mixtape Royal Flush and nabbed a feature on Kanye West’s esteemed fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The Georgia native’s cameo on “So Appalled” cemented his spot in the G.O.O.D. Music stable, as he went on to secure several Grammy nominations and co-write the West, Rihanna and Paul McCartney collaboration, “FourFiveSeconds.”
Seven years later, Prynce is finally putting forth his first official debut, No Dope On Sundays. The album — or “emotion film” as he describes it — tells the story of Sunday to Sunday from his P.O.V. as a vice-prone teen in the streets. Led by the single “Dat Side,” the anti-haters anthem featuring the previously mentioned West, the 15-track set is a street tale that merges the Bible with Boyz N Da Hood.
Below, CyHi gets real about his relationship with Kanye, spirituality and the blueprint of his forthcoming albums. You can also listen to his NoDoS playlist on TIDAL.
So No Dope On Sundays is your official debut album. What took so long?
To sum it all up, the devil was working. I’m trying to do something really special to save the community and save the world, just vibes and music and lyrics as well. It was just a journey that I think the timing is right plus a lot of my business situations wasn’t right. I could have done a lot of stuff that I chose not to do for music so I sacrificed a lot.
What were some of those sacrifices?
I was very involved in the streets, and then once I got into music, I didn’t want to just get rich off music because I had been through so much. I could have easily just kept my street riches going but I sacrificed it and gave everything to music. It was a harder way because I didn’t do it with payola or paying DJs off or going to strip clubs and selling dope all day just trying to break my music. I did it moreso perfecting my craft, trying to get the right situations. I came through with Def Jam, and you know a few people at Def Jam left that I was signed to and it kind of left me in a pickle. Everybody knew I was working with Kanye, so everybody was scared to touch it. I feel like I’m back with another situation that was better for me.
Was there a a specific life experience that inspired “Dat Side” and the album?
My album is is a story. It’s a story from Sunday to Sunday, a week I was going through where I was young. I don’t want to rap about where I am now until my fifth album because it took me so long to craft my first. I had to go all the way back so this album is moreso me growing up as a young teen, just thinking I know everything in the streets. We doing what we doin’ — girls, drugs, shootouts, fist fights, jail. ["Dat Side"] was one of the songs where we made a little bit of money, and we wanted to go to the club. If anybody step on this side, it was gonna get ugly. It was really just a part of the story, and people didn’t hear it like that because you need to hear the album in its entirety. But that’s just one of the songs or scenes from my emotion film.
Take me through Sunday to Sunday. What kind of journey are you trying to take your listeners on?
You look at Sunday night and Monday starts off the week, you kind of re-up, get your little pack, doing what you need to to do, getting your money right, and then you actually go out and solicit. That’s when [you're] meeting other people and going through certain issues — getting pulled over and maybe getting robbed. Then through Tuesday and Wednesday, a couple guys got locked up. All these things are really telling the story but it’s actually a true story of my friend [who] had got shot at a party. Everybody wanted to take him to the movies and the club because he got out in three days. I took him to church. I let the pastor pray for him. We told our testimony.
Then on the weekend, we see [the shooters] at a party, me and my partners whooped them, then they go outside and get a gun and shoot at us. One of my partners got hit, and that’s how we tell the story from Friday to Sunday of him getting out and me taking him to church. So, in a nutshell, that was the week that I feel like a lot of men in the city are going through. Those issues like, ‘Oh, I gotta sell drugs, or I gotta do this or I gotta get to beefing with them.’ Getting to Sunday is a blessing, and you kind of let your hair down and reflect on everything you went through and try to make the next week a better week.
Why was it important to tell this story and what makes it relevant now? Like you said, this all happened to you when you were a teen.
The reason why I told this story is because these are the guys that want to [get] out of that. It’s something you’ll hear on the third album and fourth album, like I wanted to let [listeners] know I not only can relate to you, I was actually there with you. When I’m telling these stories and giving you these jewels, you gon’ know, ‘OK, bruh telling the law.’
I like to say I’m a publicist for the streets. Whatever’s going on, I go out and tell it to the masses. I think that’s important — just to be able to relate. They always told me the first step of when you go to [Alcoholics Anonymous] you have to accept that you have a problem before you can change. You have to say, ‘Hey I am CyHi, I’m an alcoholic’ and everybody stands up, so this is me saying, ‘Hey, I was an alcoholic.’
Do you feel like this album is long overdue?
You know what’s crazy? Nah. Just my mixtapes being such a success when I did do mixtapes, it’s kind of the same peace. You gotta make the same runs. It just doesn’t count, so I think right now, I’m just in a blessed place. I think it’s cool to see the fans still engaged and see a real rapper who can just take two years off and still come back. Even when I look at [Big] K.R.I.T, people think the same thing, like he can take two years off and come back but a lot of guys can’t do that because you gotta have that original talent. A lot of guys just ride the wave when they get hot or do something that sparks somebody. I don’t have to rush it. I could rap these lyrics until I’m 50, 60 years old. I feel like KRS-One, Wu-Tang [Clan], Nas and all those type of guys. I think the quality of music will always stand the test of time.
Kanye executive produced this album. What did he bring to the table?
When you think of an executive producer, a lot of times, it’s just giving an executive opinion. It’s not moreso actually having to touch the music. I told him what I wanted to do and he told me how to go about it, what direction to do what, what drums I should use, what artists [to work with] and so forth. That kind of guidance is what helped me not only for my album [but] what he taught me with Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to [The Life of] Pablo.
What’s one of the things he taught you?
Just how to make a song from scratch. Usually going through the mixtape era, I never had a budget, so I would have to get tracks through e-mails so it was like some dude in Montana would send me a track, like a mix of ‘em, then [now] it’s like I got three producers, my engineer and two piano players, and we sit in a room and say, ‘Let’s brainstorm for three months about what this album, No Dope On Sundays, is gonna mean.’ I came from Atlanta where we don’t care about reverb, the shift pitch, the 808s or snare. I’m like, ‘Man, just put some drums on there, the ones where they go click.’ I had to learn all of that terminology, and I learned that from Ye.
He’s been keeping a low profile this year. Has that changed his work ethic with you?
No, actually. It’s so funny when people talk about him. I hear both sides of the argument, so when I listen to people say that he’s in a sunken place, I don’t be thinking that because I know the story. As an artist, he cares a lot more than average people. He doesn’t care about money or not having enough to splurge. He only cares about having enough money to create. He just wants a budget to create the product or whatever hotel or whatever shoe or whatever clothing line he wants to create, and that’s where I think some people feel like he goes into a bad place or they feel like he’s in some type of depression. He’s in a great place to me. As you saw, he came [through for "Dat Side"] and we put the record out. I was the one who brought him out the house. Thank me later.
How do you get Kanye out of the house?
You know, great vibes. Then he showed up at the [Kid] Cudi show. He was at the Lakers games. He’s definitely been working, he’s definitely been producing a lot of music. You forget how good of an actual producer he is. Teyana’s album is incredible, Pusha’s album is incredible, and I’m on my way to working on mine now.
Do you already have your next couple of albums plotted out?
Absolutely, because I know I have to do it in a small amount of time. I won’t rush it, but I’m definitely running a little late for the fans, and I understand that. It’s more therapeutic for them. I understand if I just needed to put it out and get some money, I wouldn’t have done it for that. Shout out to Meek [Mill]. Meek just left [for prison]. It’s like, man, he’s one of the street prophets, one of the only ones left. So I have to make sure I put some music out that kind of helps these guys throughout their lives.
Creatively, do you feel free now?
Yeah, I do feel free. Now, I can do extra things for my fans that I probably couldn’t do before because I couldn’t monetize it. I could show up in different places now, and it won’t hurt my budget as much. I’ve never been paid for the eight years that I’ve been in the music industry. The songs that I wrote for other artists, I get paid for, but [not for] all the music and mixtapes I ever put out. These guys put out mixtapes and make millions off SoundCloud and streams. But back when I was doing it on DatPiff and LiveMixtapes, we had samples that we wasn’t clearing but we just needed to stay relevant or just be able to put something out.
And that doesn’t bother you at all?
It’s just the lost books of the Bible, that’s how I look at it. Some of the books of the Bible just aren’t there but people still know that they were there, and some people heard ‘em and will be like, ‘Oh, you don’t remember this?’ I think that’s what keeps my mystique.
What do you credit your faith to?
My parents. Just how I was brought up. They made me feel like Jesus and God were really my friends. I don’t know how they pulled it off because they like to say I was bad, but I’d like to say I was inquisitive. Just nosey and wanted to see what I can and can’t do, but since I was little, God always performed small miracles for me like doing sports, and when I was acting or when I taught myself how to rap and when I first came out and battle rapped a dude from New York and I destroyed him and my school damn near carried me out the cafeteria.
I don’t know, it’s just a part of me. I also feel if you put me in a cypher with your favorite rappers, they can’t go to the level I can go. Like we all can rap but once the word of God comes over me, you will forget every other rapper in the room. I done been in shootouts, and it’s like, ‘Not yet, not yet.’ That right there [is what] I’m talking about [like] getting pulled over, just letting me be able to articulate myself so that the police officer doesn’t think I’m a threat. That’s what my God has done for me, so I like to instill that in my music as well.
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