Swizz Beatz has recorded with a who’s who of hip hop and R&B stars, including Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, and his wife, Alicia Keys. He began his career working with his childhood friend, the late Earl “DMX” Simmons, and he says he has bittersweet memories of the first song he produced for DMX, the classic “Ruff Ryders Anthem” in 1998.
“It’s been really hard to play this record since DMX passed. It’s the song that started both of our lives musically,” the Grammy winner tells NME.com. “We had so many great moments with this song and so whenever I hear it now it makes me reflect a little too hard.”
He adds, “I thought I was ready to start listening to it again but I wasn’t. The times I have heard it I’ve been like: ‘Oooh, I can’t play this yet.’ But I can play all of the other songs for some reason, just not this one. If someone plays it out or I hear it on the radio it just gets me.”
Swizz also produced more more hits for DMX, including “Party Up (Up in Here)” in 2000. Swizz recalls that he attended his first concert with DMX, a Snoop Dogg show in 1994.
“I think it might have been Snoop’s first ever show in New York. I was there with DMX who was performing too,” the 43-year-old artist/writer/producer remembers. “Me and Snoop joke about that show a lot because I snuck in his dressing room and stole some weed out of his pocket. I don’t even smoke weed but I was like, ‘Yo! I got Snoop’s weed,’ and I bagged it. It was in an envelope for years. I have no idea where it is now.”
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