Dan Adu-Gyamfi wrote this from the pews.
Rap and religion will remain connected as long as the internal conflict of morality exists. Freeway’s “What We Do” perfectly sums up this issue. Many people—due to their circumstances—have to commit crimes to survive and CyHi the Prynce wants to let them know that salvation will save them on No Dope on Sundays.
He explained his debut album’s title on Hot 97 and it refers to the unofficial rule in CyHi’s neighborhood in which people wouldn’t sell drugs on the Sabbath. The record is loosely based on a week in his life as a teenager and the temptations he faced growing up in Atlanta when Black Mafia Family were at their height. He was raised by strict Baptist parents who wouldn’t even let him listen to rap but he still found his way to the street. During the promo run for the project, CyHi could be seen wearing Clerical collar shirts to signify that he’s a hood preacher. I’m sure Jeezy wishes he thought of that idea during his Church in These Streets era.
“Amen” is the album’s intro and begins with Pastor Cortez Harris giving a prayer as if he’s blessing the record. CyHi gives us his own version of commandments just like Biggie did. For his second commandment he states, “Never sell rocks on a Sunday/ Yeah I know the streets is cold but nigga Hell’s hot.”
“Get Ya Money” is about saving paper to leave the drug game. Even though his hometown is Stone Mountain—just like Childish Gambino and Raury—CyHi did his dirt in Decatur with Crips that banged so hard, all they ate was seafood. Get it? At the end of the song, one of CyHi’s OGs makes an appearance and gives another meaning to the album title. According to him, real trap houses wouldn’t sell on Sunday because that day, along with Tuesday and Thursday, is when the police raided houses that were suspected to have narcotics. Hot Boys made “Tuesday & Thursday” to warn hustlers of raids on their masterpiece Guerilla Warfare, but you can never have enough reminders.
Inspired by the racial tension under Donald Trump’s regime, “Nu Africa” imagines life if African Americans became fed up with their treatment in the United States and decided to go back to the motherland. In this world, Magic Johnson builds condos in the Congo, Kanye makes a mall in Senegal, Puff Daddy makes a strip club in Kenya—most likely sponsored by jollof flavored Cîroc—and rappers still have Pro Tools to record music.
On “80’s Baby,” CyHi’s approach recalls Nas’ on “Fetus.” CyHi takes a spoken word flow to rap as an infant in his mother’s womb and express what he went through before he was born. CyHi told NPR last month that his mother didn’t know she was pregnant with him until the end of her second trimester. She was smoking and drinking during most of her pregnancy with him and throughout the track you hear the doubt in his voice as he wonders if this is the environment he wants to grow up in when he’s born.
CyHi has gone from being in a group signed to Jazze Pha to being a solo artist under Akon to leaving Konvict Muzik to sign to G.O.O.D. Music…all while being under Def Jam. In 2015, he finally left the label to join Sony but remains with Kanye West’s crew. Fans since 2011 have been clamoring for a CyHi album but label limbo always deterred the release. Maybe that was a good thing, because statute of limitations laws had to have passed before he could speak so freely on his upbringing. CyHi even claims on a record he’s nervous when he raps because the beat may be tapped by the Feds.
It doesn’t stop him from telling us about his old trap house on Cleveland Avenue—which is the street Young Thug is from—and the trips to Detroit for drugs on Fenkell Avenue, which is the block Payroll Giovanni and Tee Grizzley call home. They say your first album is the easiest to make because you’ve had your whole life to make it. Cydel Young uses his debut to attempt to save souls for God while admitting the sins he’s committed.