We’ve heard some of the “come-up” stories from many of music’s heavy hitter collectives from Bad Boy to Death Row Records (among others). The story of “Da Bassment”, also known as “The Swing Mob Collective” sometimes falls under the radar but should be highlighted as the crew hails many of music’s favorite and highly prominent artists, writers, and producers to this day.
Formed by Jodeci member DeVante Swing in or around 1991, recruits were enlisted such as Missy Elliot (along with the group Sista), Timbaland, Ginuwine, Playa, Tweet, Magoo, and Stevie J (prior to his connection with Diddy’s “The HitMen” production team). Stevie, who says that he was not actually signed as an artist to DeVante’s label, spent a great deal of time there honing his sound after being discovered at a local fashion show in Rochester, NY.
“Pretty much it was a handshake situation, as a producer and I could write some songs, facilitate any way I could musically, vocally or whatever. It was just a cool friendship,” the Love and Hip Hop star said in an interview with the “Static Major is Music Blog”. Dalvin and K-Ci of Jodeci were in attendance and from there he was able to showcase his abilities, which led him to the studio where he met JoJo as well as DeVante.
Stevie stayed an hour away from Rochester, in Buffalo, NY, while bunking with Ginuwine and recording music with him. From there he states, “I started working with Playa and then I began to work with Sista and Sugah and Jodeci. So it was like as soon as I got there I began like fraternizing with everyone and working with everybody. I would like to say I played an intricate role in that too, the whole leaving, of everybody, leaving, a lot of cats leaving. From Timbaland to Missy, to Playa, to Ginuwine to everybody.”
Rumors would begin to run rampant of mistreatment of the artists in the camp from DeVante before the ultimate crumbling of the collective. In Timbaland’s book, The Emperor of Sound: A Memoir, he touched on the abusive moments while sharing they barely received fair payment for their work. “We would go for days without eating,” he recalled in the book. “We would be woken up in the middle of the night to run crazy errands. We were knocked around, kicked around, and beat down.”
On a 2017 episode of Drink Champs, Stevie J also recounted moments while being a part of the camp, including a brutal fistfight that occurred as well as witnessing his fellow artists get slapped around. He, along with Missy Elliot, Timbaland, Ginuwine, Jodeci, and others, was at the Rochester studio when in walked Swing accompanied by his cousin, bodyguards, and two Pitbulls on leashes. Stevie remembers that DeVante approached each one of his artists and proceeds to smack them extremely hard, followed by another from behind by his cousin. None of the artists did anything, Stevie recalls.
While DeVante “knew not to try that with him”, Stevie says his cousin attempted to lay hands on him, which led to a tumultuous argument that prompted K-Ci to hop in. From there, a massive fight broke out between Stevie and DeVante’s crew. According to Stevie, the fight got so brutal that he has a constant reminder of it in the form of a scar over his eye after being hit by a bottle.
It was after that fight that Stevie began to encourage everyone else that if they continued to remain under DeVante’s tutelage and within the camp, they were “stupid”. Not long afterward, the group separated, however, in the future (and present-day) many of them still famously collaborate and have gone on to have incredible success in their careers.