R-Swift revealed the album cover to his new project yesterday via Rapzilla.com. The project will be his fifth full-length release and his first since 2009’s Anthem. Anthem, as you will recall, spawned the smash hit “Awesome God,” which was inspired by the death of his young son RJ. The Apply Pressure cover pits Swift in the exact same mugshot pose that Martin Luther King Jr. had in 1956, when King was arrested during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Swift told Wade-O Radio that the King mug shot left a profound impact on him. “When I saw that original mug shot, it screamed out two things, power and vulnerability. Here you have one of the most powerful black men of the time, but he’s still vulnerable because he’s been locked up,” Swift explained. “What stuck out to me though, was just as much as he was willing to be celebrated, he also counted the cost and was willing to lose his life for it [his beliefs]. And not just his life, but he was willing to loose freedom.”
The struggle that King experienced in leading the civil rights movement during the 1950’s and 60’s was also a source of inspiration during the Apply Pressure recording process. At times, Swift questioned if it was even worth finishing the project and continuing to be a public artist. “When I was doing this album, I was going through a lot of things and I had to recount the cost. A lot of my life was in the public eye. When I went thru it with my son [his death], that was all out there for the public to see. And, I really had to recount the cost of being in that spotlight.”
In recent years, we’ve seen several artists wrestle with the notion of being in the spotlight. Trip Lee tackled this on his sophomore album 20/20, when he proudly proclaimed, “I ain’t no Superstar.” Lecrae touched on this too, in the 2010 smash hit “Background.” Andy Mineo even mentioned this during his Wade-O Radio Interview as he explained the concept for his debut album Heroes For Sale.
The introspection has helped R-Swift realize that when God calls you, a sacrifice must be paid. The type of music he makes and the people he desires to reach, may cause him to give up some things. “I may sacrifice money. I may sacrifice a whole bunch of fans,” Swift stated. “[But] that’s what that picture said to me. He’s a man that we look at as a king, but he’s in prison. It just shows that, just as much as he is willing to be celebrated, he’s also willing to be persecuted.”
Swift seems prepared for either role at this stage of his career. Apply Pressure hits stores June 11th.