Weetu, the Voice of the Streets PDF Print E-mail
By Gregory Brand Jr. -- Black College Wire   

On a cloudy Tuesday night in a small East Nashville house, Weetu, The Voice of the Streets is waiting.

On the surface, she is waiting on the members of her live 10-piece band, Da Truth, to arrive and begin practice for a show on the following Thursday night.

The Meter
Sheryl-Lynn Weetu Swen
On another level, she is waiting on the recognition and attention that comes with the type of music and high-energy performances she and her band deliver every time they come to the stage.

This type of waiting can only come from hours, days and years of tireless dedication and drive toward a single goal.

For her, the goal is being a musician, artist and businesswoman; however, Weetu, also hopes her motivational and powerful performances will empower others.

The past four years have been a very busy time in the life of 23-year-old Sheryl-Lynn Weetu Swen.

In the short but often monumental period of college matriculation, she has made quite a few transitions and continues to evolve.

Like the various forms of life that have survived on this planet, evolution makes sure the best living creatures move forward.

From survival to success

Swen can count herself among those who have enjoyed success.

Evidence of her success is plastered on the walls of the room in her home she has fashioned into a state-of-the-art music studio.

From the floor to the ceiling, there are depictions and posters of Nas, LL Cool J, Talib Kweli and even Janet Jackson.

To her they seem to be representations of what could be if she continues the path she is currently riding on.

From the technology and décor within the space, it is clear that she intends to continue.

Swen has accomplished much as an independent emcee and now even more as an entrepreneur and label head.

While her goal has always been the production and performance of the music that has helped shape her life and solidify her character, the elements that have made her diversify her involvement within the music industry and other closely related areas are yet another form of evolution.

"I've had to sacrifice a lot to get to where I am now," said Swen, a senior commercial music major from Atlanta by-way-of New Jersey. "Music is my life. My life revolves around this music. When it comes to sacrifice, I've put everything on the line to make this happen."

But sacrifice is not the only thing the artist is giving to her upward climb as both an artist and a person. She has also taken it upon herself to begin branding herself and expanding her vision.

She credits the ever changing expansion of her vision is what as the largest part of her continued success.

Originally making her debut as a rapper and performer when she began as a student on TSU's campus (Meter issue 4/24/2006) and later evolving into a seasoned performer and opener for TSU's Homecoming Concert (Meter issue 10/29/2007), the artist is now working outside the campus that has nurtured her to further spread her name and continue building her growing brand.

Consequently, building the brand is a segment of her expansion that is drawing lots of attention.

In early 2007, Swen put together what would become "We All We Got Entertainment," the leg of her business that includes her own production studio, artist management, a fully staffed street team and even a clothing line.

Each of the aforementioned elements work together to push the artist forward, toward mainstream attention.

The effects have already begun to catch the attention of students and fans.

"I was talking to a friend about trying to get a hold of a T-shirt," said Melinda Goldthread, a senior mass communication major from Nashville. "I saw some of them at a show at Belmont and since I like the music, I know I can do the clothes too."

Though the brand has stretched to include many different elements besides music, it is still the primary focus.

First and foremost, she feels that she is a lyricist, and because she is a lyricist, her words and the message she has to deliver mean a lot to her.

When Swen is making music, be it live or on wax, she aims to spit 'hot fire.' All she has to do is get the fire out to the masses. To her, the fire is the lyrics that she spits and the live music that caries them.

"I'm dedicated to using all of the gifts that God gave me," Swen said. "If it is me being able to snap my fingers and kick my feet, that's what I'm going to do."

She credits much of her success to her relationship with a higher power.

"Before I write anything, I make sure that I pray," Swen said. "I don't know where it comes from after that but that is always the first thing that I do."

In doing so, she believes that the work is more than an opportunity to be seen on stage.

"My music is a reflection of God," Swen said in a serious tone. "He placed this gift in me, so who am I making this music for? It is for Him so that I can be a living testimony for others."

She also points out that her music is for the people despite the spiritual place it comes from.

"People ask me all the time if my music is secular (or not)," Swen said. "I'm just very spiritual and make it known where (the music) comes from."

As she sits her cup down on her very own production console, the front door opens and her drummer and music producer, Jeremy Mitchell, a junior commercial music major at Middle Tennessee State University and a native of Memphis walks in.

The interaction between the two is nothing short of close. They call each other by nicknames and function like mature brother and sister.

There are jokes shared but also serious exchanges regarding the gig that is set for the coming Thursday.

Mitchell has been working with Weetu since she decided to make her sound jump with live instrumentation.

"We used to be in the band together at TSU," Mitchell said. "We just decided one day to get something together. And we've lasted through about five different bands. I just love to do it."

Mitchell and Weetu are two of the primary collaborators when it comes to putting together the sounds that end up ultimately being used by the band.

Performing in and beyond Nashville

Despite line up changes with the active band, Weetu and Da Truth have been performing in shows all over Nashville and beyond.

The performances serve as opportunities to get exposure and to deliver the message that Swen is striving to make known everywhere.

The message is ultimately positive and serves to inform and encourage listeners. With real lyricism Swen aims to not waste time on negativity but focus on building and uplifting.

Though she wants the exposure and attention for both her and the band, she is not willing to compromise herself or her music to get there.

"It's as if they don't believe women will be heard if they aren't performing naked," Swen said in an earlier interview. "(T)hey wanted me to sell my soul and I wasn't about to do that."

A moment later, Jeremy Jones, Weetu's bassist and a senior music major from Clarksville fills the room with loud untamed energy.

He, like Mitchell, met Swen in TSU's Aristocrat of Bands and has been supporting her dream since he joined her in the live band.

"The time was right when I joined the band," Jones said. "I wasn't even an original member but the band was doing what it needed to do. We all had the drive to make it happen and we (are) trying to do it."

In between interviews with Swen and members of Da Truth the energy is high.

Weetu keeps disappearing into her own booth to freestyle while Jones negotiates rehearsal times by phone and Mitchell scribbles silently in a notebook.

Although they are seemingly operating independently, they are all connected somehow and that connection stems from more than just the band they play in.

They are like family. With all of the members working toward getting good music out into the streets, Weetu believes they are all ready for the next step.

As the sound guy at the Soul Lounge performance on Thursday night makes the last tweak of the stage's sound monitor, Weetu and Da Truth break off into a live rendition of Hello and under the lights on stage they all look a little different than they did only days and moments before.

Now, instead of the rehearsal, they are a band making live music and entertaining a listening crowd.

"The sky is definitely the limit," Swen said. "I truly believe that. Look at where Def Jam came from and where it is now. Believe in yourself. If you don't know one else will."

If she continues to truly believe, she may just stand should to shoulder if not higher than those 'greats' she has just mentioned.

Gregory Brand Jr. is senior editor of The Meter, the Tennessee State University student newspaper, which originally published this article.

Posted Apr. 02, 2009
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