If you don’t know who Shwayze is, think “Baby will you be my Corona and Limeee? And I will be your main squeezeee. And if your brother don’t like my style, we could take it to the streets.” Of course, the beach music feel of the song — which climbed to No. 3 on iTunes in 2008 — and atypically sweet rap lyrics doesn’t bring to mind a guy who’s much inclined to “take it to the streets.” And sure enough, talking to the Malibu native on the roof of the Sky Room high above Times Square, with a bucket of — you guessed it — Corona and limes in front of us, I discovered he is exactly as laid back as you would expect.
If you haven’t heard too much from him recently, it’s because the dude’s been busy. His ridiculously adorable son Hendrix (named after Shwayze’s guitar hero) was born in November of 2010, in February of this year he married girlfriend Shelby Keaton on a beach in Kauai, and the family recently made the move from L.A to New York City.
Any questions about married life for Shwayze were pretty much answered when I asked him who his celebrity crush was. Granted, I did throw in “not sure if you can answer this now because you’re married and all,” but smart man that he is, he took the out.
“I would have to say my wife, because she is fucking incredible,” he said. “I know you didn’t want that I know you wanted some meat didn’t you? My wife Shelby — it’s really true — because she’s gorgeous in every way, inside and out, and she’s really a model on the rise so keep an eye out for her, Shelby Keaton.”
Awwww. I know, that’s what I said too. I don’t know how much rappers want to be called precious, but Shwayze (or real name, Aaron Smith) is a genuinely nice guy. He was seated at one of Sky Room’s cabanas, surrounded by friends and assistants, in the midst of blaring music, Sky Room’s new laser lights, throngs of skimpily dressed girls, waitresses offering him drinks, and a crazy amazing view of the city — pretty distracting setting. But he was exceptionally good at drowning out his surroundings and being genuinely engaged in whatever conversation he was having.
Shwayze had no qualms about greeting people, offering a drink to anyone in sight, doling out hugs. Oh yeah, Shwayze is a hugger. Who knows, maybe fatherhood has softened him up.
“He’s amazing,” Shwayze said about 18-month old Hendrix. “He’s just like the biggest joy in the whole world. He’s just put everything in perspective for me and he’s the best thing that could ever happen to me really. He’s just like the coolest dude. And it’s funny, because he’s already — I’m a big prankster, I play jokes on people all day every day — and he’s already doing it like at 18 months. He’ll say hi and try to scare you and shit. He totally is like a little me. Being a father…it’s hard to put into words but it’s really incredible.”
But none of that is to say he hasn’t been making music. One of Shwayze’s newer singles, “Love Letter,” featuring The Cataracs (“I-it’s The Cataracs”) and Dev has been stuck in my head for about a week straight now…in a good way. It has the classic Shwayze beach vibe, the kind of song you want to blast with the windows on the way to the beach (like all of his music).
Between this and “Island In The Sun,” his 2011 album with Cisco, I am anxiously awaiting his new album, which Shwayze said will be a little more up tempo, inspired by NYC.
“I just moved to New York, so I’m going to start making a record in New York, inspired by the city and everything that’s here,” he said. “Because I’ve made beach music, I’ve lived in Malibu my whole life, so it’s still gonna have that cool summer vibe like the Shwayze that you love, but with a little city edge. I started writing, I’m like halfway done with the record.”
Though Shwayze said he is inspired by New York and loves living here thus far, he is keeping one foot on each coast, a mindset that is sure to be reflected in his next album.
“I still have my place in L.A. and I did that only because I was afraid to fully make the commitment to move out to New York. I was like… fuck, you know what I mean?”
But whether he’s in Cali or New York, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed. In “Island in the Sun” he sings about “collecting seashells on the seafloor, smoke a lil’ seaweed in the seashore.” About deciding whether or not to go out in New York he said, “So I pretty much discourage myself, I’m like ‘Do I wanna go to the club?’ *smoking motion* ‘Nahhh.’”
On his 26th birthday this past week, Shwayze chilled with friends and family, and enjoyed one of the perks of life in NYC: Broadway. Specifically the funniest musical to ever grace a Broadway stage (my personal opinion, but it’s a fact), Book of Mormon.
“It was amazing,” he said. “And I’m such a big fan of South Park and those guys [Matt Stone and Trey Parker], and they just had the best time making it obviously. They’re so talented to make a Broadway show that just shows you had good they are. But it was hilarious; it was even above what I expected. I mean I expected it to be dope but it was even better. Really good.”
As far as what’s next for the new New Yorker, Shwayze is far from slowing down. After his own reality show, a couple of Billboard topping singles, the birth of his son, getting married, and a cross country move, Shwayze is returning to his music. Inspired by…Jimmy Buffet? I asked him about a retweet he gave to a fan calling him “the black Jimmy Buffet.”
“I loved it. That made me smile so big,” he said. “Dude, well Jimmy Buffet, first of all, is a chill dude, he writes party music, but he’s also a billionaire, because he’s so smart at marketing and all that shit. And I don’t know if they were comparing me that way, but soon they will be doing that. So I thought that was great. And I always make jokes, like ‘I’m the black James Dean,’ I’ll say shit like that. So I like that he said the black Jimmy Buffet, I’ll fux with that. So I might have to do a Shwayz remix of a Jimmy Buffet song now.”
Hey, you never know…