Although the Jamie Kennedy movie Malibu's Most Wanted posited that the beachside Los Angeles suburb is so upper class and lily white that the only rappers it can produce are rich teenagers fronting gangsta poses, real-life Malibu resident Shwayze begs to differ. He's in touch enough with movie culture that his handle is a corruption of the surname of the star of Dirty Dancing and Roadhouse, and his musical mentor is Cisco Adler, son of multi-millionaire record producer Lou Adler, most notorious for a hugely unflattering nude photo widely circulated on the Internet while Adler was dating TV star Mischa Barton, as well as a stint on a short-lived VH1 reality series, The Rock Life. Shwayze claims to have grown up in a comparatively tough trailer park in one of Malibu's less prosperous neighborhoods. Born Aaron Smith in 1986, legend has it Shwayze was working as an assistant to his handyman grandfather in 2005 when he began an impromptu on-stage freestyle with a friend, drummer Alex Orbison, prior to a local gig by Orbison's band Whitestarr. Adler, Whitestarr's singer/songwriter, was impressed enough with the young rapper that he started collaborating with him. Co-writing the songs with Adler producing, the duo came up with a mellow, largely acoustic sound akin to a hip-hop Jack Johnson, far removed from the glammy Southern rock revivalism of Adler's own band.
Shwayze signed to Geffen Records sublabel Suretone in 2007 and his self-titled debut album was released the following year, preceded by the single "Don't Be Shy" and followed by a stint on the 2008 Vans Warped Tour. The album yielded the hit singles "Corona and Lime" and "Buzzin'," the latter of which became the title of the duo's short-lived reality show, which aired on MTV during the summer of 2008. A year later they returned with the electro-influenced album Let It Beat along with the single "Get U Home." Following a few free mixtapes and EPs, the duo released Island in the Sun in 2011 on their own Bananabeat Records. The release was credited to Shwayze & Cisco Adler rather than just Shwayze, in order to avoid confusion. However, Shwayze and Adler ceased working with each other after the album's release. Shwayze's first release without Adler was the 2012 EP Shwayzed and Confused, followed by the full-length Shwayze Summer in 2013. His EP King of the Summer appeared in 2015. ~ Stewart Mason