Cyhi The Prynce’s Long Journey to His Debut Album ‘No Dope on Sundays’
CyHi The Prynce is finally releasing his debut album. It's been a long road to get to this point but the Atlanta native will unleash his No Dope on Sundays LP this summer. The album will feature guest appearances from Pusha T, Travis Scott, Schoolboy Q and Kanye West, who is actually the project's executive producer.
Seven years ago, CyHi first made his mark in the music industry in 2010, after leaving his deal with Akon's Konvict Muzik and signing to Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music imprint. After stellar appearances on songs released for Kanye's G.O.O.D. Fridays and 2010's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, CyHi, born Cydel Young, seem destined for greatness. He would go on to become a XXL Freshman in 2011 and appear on G.O.O.D. Music's compilation album, Cruel Summer. But then for the next three years, things went left. His album wasn't given a release date and he was let go from Def Jam.
Things got even more confusing in 2015, when the rapper dropped the song "Elephant in the Room.” The record appeared to be a diss track aimed at Kanye West and fellow G.O.O.D. Music family members Teyana Taylor, Pusha T and Big Sean. However, the Royal Flush creator would later clarify and say the record was all for fun and was approved by Kanye himself.
Now with No Dope on Sundays finally on the way, it's CyHi's opportunity to take center stage. He previously released the Schoolboy Q-assisted track “Moving Around," "Legend” and “Nu Africa” as singles leading up to the album's release. Before the project arrives, XXL sat down with CyHi to discuss what inspired him to create it, his current relationship with G.O.O.D. Music and why he no longer finds himself in a musical prison.
XXL: Your description of the title No Dope on Sundays is an interesting concept. How would you describe this album sequencing?
CyHi The Prynce: Well, the sequencing was something like I wanna do Monday through Sunday. But it was a week of mine that I had as a teenager that was devastating, so I kind of remember a lot of things that transpired that week. So I put it all in a week’s body of works, so when you listen to [the album] it builds from like your workdays all the way to your weekends to when you do your religion on Sundays. So it had that feel and I tried to make it that way. And I remember a lot of the stories that were going on during that time, and I just wanted to write about them because one thing about me [is] if I don’t have a concept, I have writer’s block.
I’m not one of them ones that can just make words rhyme, I’m not that good. I mean, I am that good, it’s just when I think of making songs, like if I do little freestyles it’s cool, but when I think of making songs, I want it to fit a body of work that when you hear it in a totality, it makes songs bigger. A fan might hear a song and be like, "Oh, CyHi never really rapped on this, him and ’Ye," but when you hear with it riders and you hear it with the trap record, now that song is is even bigger because it stands in its’ own space.
So that’s what I try to do, just try to give the different situations that’s not only I went through growing up, but what a lot of kids growing up in inner cities [did]. I want them to understand when I say No Dope on Sundays, I know what they’re going through Monday through Saturday. So I’m not gonna be the one to say ‘No dope on Sunday’ and ain’t never sold dope. This is coming from a real guy that’s coming from a real place, so that’s what I was trying to do with the album.
What was devastating about that week and how old were you?
I think I might’ve been about 15 or 16, and [I was with] my best friend and up the street was a house party and some of my patnas whooped another dude and they got to fightin’ in the party. Dudes got kicked out the party, they come back and shoot the party up, but my patnas outside [are] talking shit to them like, "Yeah, they ain’t gon’ come to my neighborhood" and they just start sprayin’ down the block.
So my patna got shot and we had to call the ambulance. I’m there calling the ambulance [while] he on the ground [and] I’m telling him to breathe, wrapping his stomach up, putting pressure on certain wounds. So he gets to the hospital and he gets there [and] he actually lives, but everybody felt like he was Superman ’cause he got the staples in his stomach and they sent him home in like, two days. So everybody like, "Yo, we should go to the strip club, we gon’ take him to the movies," and I’m like, "No, I’m taking you to church, bro."
I could’ve lost my best friend and y’all over here glorifying it because he done came home in two days [laughs], like he’s some goddamn Superman or somethin’. So that’s where the concept really came from and then years later when I talked to him—’cause you know, we not as close as when we [were] kids—he was like, "Man, that was one of the realest things anybody ever did for me." Because he was never in touch with his spirituality as well, but he felt like that helped him get further in life and make better decisions and better endeavors.
The features on the album are mostly people from G.O.O.D. Music. How’s your relationship with everyone on the label?
We’re family. A lot of people don’t know I call myself the G.O.O.D. Music anchor because I’m the one when projects need help, projects need energy, projects need opinions, they would call CyHi. They need help on certain parts, certain hooks, bridges, even proofreading like, "Man, what you think about these lyrics? You think it’s hard?," I’ll be like, "Eh, you can go harder [Big] Sean," or "Pusha [T], I heard you spit harder" or "That shit is incredible."
So that right there is something that the G.O.O.D. Music squad always… That was my role really because like I said, I was in a bad situation on Def Jam before Kanye [West] found me. But he just brought me over there to kind of give me a little leverage to get out of my situation. So, at the end of the day it’s still family. We’re all cool, we talk all the time. It’s a family affair.
How do you see yourself right now?
I think I was in musical prison. It’s almost like I would call home to the hip-hop world with my freestyles and rap over the phone in prison, and everybody would be like, "Man, it’s this nigga in prison that’s cold! Wait ’til he gets out of prison, he’s gonna be the dopest shit ever." I was in musical prison on my other label and once I got out everybody gets to hear it in its totality and you get to hear it the right way.
Back in the day I had no help with my music because I couldn’t open up none of my budgets. But now I have budgets, now I have musical geniuses around me that I can hire, I got great publicists, [a] great label team, great management. So now I feel blessed that this is the opportunity that I get right now. And people, you get to hear the seasoned CyHi when it comes to the masses. Usually when you heard me on mixtapes you had to be just a hip-hop head and know who Cyhi was. Now the world is gonna know who CyHi is, and now the masses get to judge this music—not only just us on the indie level, or us in the record label office or us at a publication.
The world gets to judge this time. I think that’s what’s going to make me incredible in the game and have one of the biggest albums out, because once it gets to mainstream and people see stories and the truthfulness behind it—nothing’s fabricated on my album. Like, nothing was ever made up, nothing was said just to rhyme. You know everything was a story, everything was real, everything was a thought, a real feeling. And I think I executed it perfectly.
It feels like this album is really important to you. It’s like your baby.
Definitely. This is the first baby that stayed at my house. All my mixtapes were like, they get to go with their baby mama, I can only get them on the weekend type of shit [laughs]. This is like, nah, this my son, he stay at my crib. I’m raising him. You know what I’m sayin’? That’s the difference. Like, my baby mama ain’t gonna’ drop this one off. This one was in the house, I birthed this from the ground up. Changed diapers, milk and all. Everything.
Have you spoken to Kanye West since he’s colored his hair and all that stuff? How is he doing? What’s his mental health when you talk to him on the phone?
He’s great, man. You know, he’s a lot nicer—and it kinda throws me off. ’Cause I like the aggressive ’Ye. One thing about ’Ye man, he has the luxury—he’s liberated. He’s just freer than a lot of us. Like a lot of times, we can’t say this because we don’t wanna lose our jobs or we don’t wanna step on these toes. But I tell people, this is the same dude who looked 50 Cent in the eye, and this is when all our rappers wore du-rags, had to be a killer—he looked them dead in the eye.
So it just shows the bravery that we’d be able to have. A lot of artists that’s like your Childish [Gambino], your Kendricks and all the guys that’s just being themselves right now, that comes from Kanye West. So people look at him like he’s crazy or whatever. To me, yeah you gotta be a little crazy to go in a room full of Beanie Siegels and Jay Zs—former dope dealers and killers—and rap “Jesus Walks.” I would’ve never rapped that song in front of them ’cause I didn’t have the pride, the confidence to do it. But somebody that crazy or has that pride or has that type of ambition to go in there and stand on the table to say “Jesus Walks” in the middle of a hip-hop environment, you have to appreciate that individual—regardless what his flaws [are].
So that’s why I try to get everybody to understand. But at the end of the day he’s doing great, he’s working on new music. You heard him on ["Glow" on] Drake’s new project [More Life]; I think he had an amazing verse. So you see he’s still himself, but you know he just hit the reset button so he’s good. I talked to him a few times. I’m about to go out there this weekend and go kick it with him, definitely get an update of what’s going on and he’s gonna finish the project with me.
One of the best moments from you is your verse on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Your verse on "So Appalled" was insane. Can you paint me the picture of making that record?
Well, I got flown down there, and when I walked in he was playin’ all my mixtape songs and I’m just like, hold up. I’m blown away ’cause he didn’t see me come in. I’m lookin’ through the doors ’cause there’s a few doors you gotta’ go through, and he’s in there [starts mocking ’Ye’s movements]. Crazy. So I come in there in he’s like, "Ooohh." So he gives me a hug and then right after that—this is when he was with Amber [Rose] —he was like, "Oh, I gotta go on a date real fast and the movies, I’ll come back."
So he was like, "Can you help me with a hook on this song?" So I was like, "Yeah, I’ll try something." So I did a little idea on the hook, and then what happened was, I wasn’t tired. I was so excited, I just told the engineer to loop the beat at the end. Like, "Put me five minutes at the end of the beat and let me write a rap just to do something since I’m here." I didn’t wanna go back to the hotel.
I was there for two weeks after that—he still hadn’t heard my verse. So I leave, go home, and I guess he was playing the album for Jay Z, [The]-Dream, Beyoncé and a couple of other people, and I guess he kept the song playing and my verse just abruptly comes in. And everybody in the room was like, "What’s goin’ on?" Then at the end of my verse Beyoncé was just like, "Whoever that was, you need to sign him."
So after that, I just got a phone call about three days later, [Kanye] was like, "Yo, congratulations. You’re on the album." And it was so crazy because during that time I was with a girl and she was about to get an abortion. And I came back to Atlanta because I lost my sister, and a week later my girl is getting an abortion. So I’m just like, okay, it’s rough on me, God. So we pray, and we’re on our way to the abortion clinic and Kanye calls me. So I’m like man, [look] how God takes something away from you because he need him up there with him, and also bless[es] you with something else. One thing about it, everybody wrote their verses after me. So that just lets you know.
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