Cyhi the Prynce may be the first rapper to ever sneak a verse on another rapper’s song – and the rapper ended up signing him. What’s even more shocking is that the rapper who signed him was Kanye West.
It all started when the Prynce (real name: Cydel Young) got the chance to work with West on his last album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”
“I did this song with him called ‘So Appalled’ and I snuck a verse on the song,” says, Cyhi, 27, calling from Detroit. “I was not originally supposed to be on the song and, you know, he was previewing the album for Jay-Z and Beyonce. And he played the song and he didn’t press stop. He just let the beat keep going and, then, my verse, all of a sudden, came in.”
Cyhi found out that, thankfully, the couple liked what they heard. “Beyonce said, ‘Whoever that is, you need to sign him,’ ” he says.
So just how did this Atlanta-born-and-based rapper add a verse right under the nose of one of the most obsessive, temperamental MCs out there?
“He wanted me to just come up with some ideas on the hook,” he remembers. “So, I kinda came up the ideas on the hook, but that didn’t take too long. It only took, like, five minutes for me to come up with the idea that I wanted to put – five, 10 minutes. So, I was just in the studio. He left and went to sleep … So I just stayed in there and just wrote a verse.
“It either could’ve been my worst day of my life or the best day of my life,” he says. “It turned out to be the best.”
West eventually signed Cyhi to his G.O.O.D. Music label (luring him away from Akon’s Konvict Muzik label, where he was originally signed), where he performed on a couple of tracks off last year’s “Kanye West Presents Cruel Summer” compilation album. “He just liked my raps,” he says. “He just thought I was one of the dopest young rappers he ever met.”
It must also help that Cyhi has a sensibility regarding educating yourself that mirrors Kanye’s. But even though West famously declared that you don’t need to have a college degree to be smart on his now-classic debut album “The College Dropout,” Cyhi begs to differ.
“I was always one of those dudes in the street that always wanted to go to college,” he says. “I didn’t want to be a street dude. It was just I didn’t have a choice at the time, you know wh’am sayin.”
Although Cyhi dropped out of high school (he eventually got a GED) and did a stint as a weed dealer, he has been encouraging listeners through his music that you can have both street smarts and a college education.
“It was just combining those two worlds, just letting guys know from my circumstance or my areas, that there’s a possibility,” he says. “You can still go to these colleges, big schools. ’Cuz a lot of these dudes never heard of Dartmouth. They never heard of Harvard. They never heard of Cornell … It’s just a clever way of me putting in some intelligence with the hip-hop.”
He does hope to get his higher learning on at some point. (He says he would like to enroll in some writing classes “to add some words to my repertoire.”)
Although he’s done a bunch of mixtapes (including “Ivy League: Kick Back,” which he released earlier this year), Cyhi’s in the process of assembling producers for his long-overdue debut album, which he hopes to drop at the top of next year. (He is planning to release an appetite-whetting EP in the fall.)
Until then, he is going around the country, playing small venues and rounding up more devoted fans, as he will be doing Sunday night at the Pour House Music Hall.
“I organically want to gain my fans and my fan base and be able to – you know, almost like catching them organically, like the president would come to a campaign and actually come to the city,” he says. “It’s not no show where it’s gonna be a whole bunch of people, a big venue, you know. We’ll start out doing smaller venues just so the atmosphere is more personal.
“Those type of fans don’t leave,” he says. “Sometimes artists don’t understand the radio fans, they’re just looking for the next huge hit on the radio.”
Knowing Cyhi and his sly ways, he can probably find his way onto those hits too.