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D12's Swifty McVay On Becoming An 'Architect Of Hip-Hop': 'That's A Blessing'

28 March 2024 | 11:23 am | Claire Dunton

D12's Swifty McVay discusses influencing young artists and what punters can expect from their tour with Xzibit and Obie Trice: "doing the same thing that captivated their hearts 20 years ago".


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It’s 2004. You're at your friend's house with an older sibling who has just let you listen to some of the wildest tracks and infectious beats in your young life. This is how many millennial Australians experienced D12 for the first time, with Xzibit and Obie Trice’s work quick to follow, forming the basis of their early modern hip-hop appreciation.

Twenty years ago, D12’s D12 World, Xzibit’s Man vs. Machine, and Obie Trice’s Cheers were released into the world. The combined force of these hip-hop heavy hitters created a movement and fandom that resonates decades on. To celebrate the 20-year milestone, D12, Xzibit, and Obie Trice are co-headlining their Australian 3 Twenty Anniversary tour, visiting Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland, and Christchurch in June.

D12’s Swifty McVay spoke to The Music about that moment in time. “With D12, we were young, we were hungry, we seen life differently. The lens were totally different to now, you know. There were a lot of things we didn't know, a lot of things we needed to learn. It was all about having fun and just looking at life differently.”

When D12 World was released, it reached multi-platinum status with tracks like My Band, How Come and Git Up, earning the group a following of revellers and lifelong fans as well as a healthy dose of controversy for the outspoken lyrics.

Initially formed as a group of six, D12 has been home to some of hip-hop’s biggest names (including Eminem), with the group changing members over the years but retaining that unique novelty of seeing so many names collaborating under the D12 name.

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“I’m seeing more collaborations now than ever. You saw that 20 years ago, but not at the level that it’s on now. When it comes to tours or just tonnes of artists creating songs together, the songs don't even have to be for projects now. The comradery is there; it’s stronger than ever now,” said McVay on seeing artists come together as a collective for creative projects.

When reflecting on 20 years in the industry, McVay expresses the group's privilege to still have such a strong following and to continue to inspire, but he acknowledges that their craft has evolved since D12 World.

“It’s an unbelievable thing. Twenty years is a long time, and when you can touch the people after so long, you just feel joyful. [When] I think about 20 years, those are the feelings that come to mind—just appreciative that people are still rocking with us after so long.”

“I just think a lot of fans don't realise that artists grow, artists change, and go through different emotions and different levels of levelling up. We all got different walks of life, but we level up. And sometimes, you have to take that music and art, and it's got to level up with you. Sometimes, you might not be in the same space to write about what you used to write about.”

For fans who fostered an early love of hip-hop, D12, Xzibit and Obie Trice were the artists burning holes in CD players, with their work influencing future artists looking to make the same splash with bold lyrics and messages.

“That's a blessing [inspiring new artists], that’s what keeps me going. It takes me back to a space when I was trying to find myself as an artist. I would listen to all the architects of hip-hop, and they would inspire me to find myself until I found myself. They gave me the juice to continue what I needed to do.

“Once I found myself and was doing my thing, for another artist to come up and say, ‘You know what - it was because of you that I started rapping’... It makes me feel, wow, I've been given the juice from the architects and unknowingly given the juice to someone else, and they are going to reach a point when they are going to give the juice to someone else. And that's what is going to keep hip-hop alive right there. It makes me feel good.”

This kind of juice and an early naughties injection is what tour-goers can expect from the 3 Twenty tour that kicks off in June, with tickets still available.

“We have a certain vibe; I watched them grow, they watched us grow, and it's definitely going to be a congratulations [moment], so much that we don't have to say anything to each other. But the vibe and energy that we’ll present will speak for itself. Just to be in each other's presence after 20 years, that right there is enough,” said McVay.

“Expect high energy, and I can say they [punters] will get that same nostalgia that we left them with 20 years ago. That's what it is all about: captivating their hearts and doing the same thing that captivated their hearts 20 years ago.”

D12 will tour Australia and New Zealand with Xzibit and Obie Trice this June. Tickets are available via Destroy All Lines.



Featuring Xzibit, D12 and Obie Trice

Friday 21 June - Eatons Hill, Brisbane (Meanjin)

Sunday 23 June - Forum Theatre, Melbourne (Naarm)

Tuesday 25 June - Enmore Theatre, Sydney (Eora)

Friday 28 June - Wolfbank Arena, Christchurch (Ōtautahi)

Saturday 29 June - Trusts Arena, Auckland (Tāmaki Makaurau)