Baldwin High School alumnus Yaw Sintim-Misa, known by his stage name Blackway, received a gold plaque on Sept. 27 when his song “What’s Up Danger,” featured in the 2018 Oscar-winning film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” sold half a million records.
The 28-year-old hip hop artist, who graduated from Baldwin High School in 2009, recalled freestyling in the high school commons and gaining the support of his friends and fellow students. He remembered sitting in the front row of the classroom as an ambitious high school senior, daydreaming and writing rhymes on his iPhone 3.
Little did he know then that his single, which plays during a climactic moment in the movie, would become certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, an organization that represents the recording industry in the United States.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Blackway said. “I aspired to be an artist since I was in middle school. It’s like the first of many accomplishments. There’s steps that you know you want to take, like, I want to get a plaque for one of my songs, then a Grammy. It’s pretty exciting, but I’m not complacent at all. I checked off a milestone on my list, and I’ve just got to keep working, then accomplish a few more things to make my family proud. It’s my dream, not to sound cliché.”
“I feel like that was just a stepping stone,” Blackway’s cousin Mike Woods said. “Now that he’s made that song and people see that, he’s just going to keep growing and grind harder.”
The next day, Blackway threw the honorary first pitch at the New York Mets game at CitiField, where his family and friends joined for the memorable moment. The team used “What’s Up Danger” for its player introductions on the field.
When the movie was in the works, Republic Records, which represented Blackway at the time, told him and Black Caviar, the artist featured on the record, about the plan to make a song for the Marvel superhero movie. The film was not yet complete, but Republic Records representatives showed Blackway a trailer clip to give him an idea.
“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is dope, and I want to be a part of it,’” Blackway said. “They told us, ‘Hey, listen, it has to be impactful and have a victorious feeling to it, like a real superhero movie.’ The climactic moment for a superhero movie is literally what they asked us. We said, ‘Alright, let’s go!’”
He recalled the process of making the song with Black Caviar, keeping in mind the recommended lyrics and the type of feel they aimed to elicit from viewers and listeners.
“It’s one of those things that you dream of as a kid,” he said. “We’ve been watching these superhero movies since we were kids, and now we get to be part of the biggest scenes in one of them.”
Blackway said he had no idea the song would be used for one of the most important scenes.
“When we were watching the movie in the premiere, that was the part that got a standing ovation,” he said. “It’s crazy. And I’m in there with all these celebrities and nobody even knows that that’s my work that they’re hearing. So I’m there like, ‘This is crazy.’”
The artist’s family and friends have supported him from the beginning of his career and continue to cheer him on.
“My initial reaction was I was excited because I know how hard he’s been working with his music, even when times got rough and he might’ve wanted to hang it up, he fought through it and it’s just something that shows everybody the hard work and dedication that he had,” Woods said of the Gold certification.
“I’m not going to say I was surprised because I’ve seen this before — anybody could see it,” said Ethan Jones, Blackway’s DJ who performs with him on stage. The pair attended BHS together. “Blackway is very talented. He’s way more talented than he knows himself. All his close friends have been telling him for a while, and I said it’s only a matter of time that people would see what we’ve seen and envisioned since high school.”
Although Jones has worked with Blackway since their high school years, he officially began working as his DJ about two years ago.
“We’ve always had that bond. We bounce off each other’s vibes,” Jones said. “I’ve always seen this coming — it was inevitable.”
He said Blackway is one of the most versatile artists he knows, and that his growth has been tremendous.
“He’s doing it for the whole town of Baldwin,” said Jones, a Baldwin resident himself. “He’s definitely doing it for his hometown and definitely trying to put Baldwin and Long Island on the map, because there aren’t a lot of people out there in the industry that are big from where we’re from. They kind of overlook us ... but we do have talent. And I know he’s very happy with where his career is heading towards. He’s been working hard for years. … This is only the beginning.”
Blackway, who works with Universal Music Group these days, said no school has impacted him the way Baldwin High School has, and he’s attended about 15 schools throughout his life. His friends constantly encouraged him to pursue his music dreams. And he didn’t take any music classes — he is not classically trained but rather learned by “observing.”
Before he moved to Baldwin in 2006, he lived in Brooklyn, Queens and Ghana. He also spent a year in South Africa when he was young. These days, he moves around a lot but spends most of his time in New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Blackway said he received his big break in 2017 when he collaborated with bigger artists including hip hop star Gucci Mane and R&B musician Kiana Lede. His music was also featured in the Madden NFL 19 video game.