Album: Let There Be Eve...Ruff Ryders’ First Lady
Label: Ruff Ryders, Interscope
Swizz Beatz: “I’m big on representing. I come from the South Bronx and in the Bronx you represent. I’ve always been like that. I felt that it was important for Eve—as big as she was getting—to still represent where she was from.
“‘Philly Philly’ was the perfect chance to let people know that she was still Philly even though she was rocking with a New York crew. To stamp that, we got Beanie Sigel—who’s the ultimate stamp of Philly—on that track and kept things on a roots level. It’s very important to bring people back to where there’s some history and take them from there, instead of taking them out of space. That’s too much for them to think about.
“Back then, I was the conductor of the train. Once people started to understand my craft, they were like, ‘Swizz got it.’ I wanted to be the boss and I ended up being that overnight. Everyone would be out there worrying about other things but when it came to music it was like, ‘Speak to Swizz.’
“Most of the things we were doing went platinum ASAP. The Ruff Ryders movement is underrated. Lately, I’ve seen people being smart about it but for a long time they weren’t. My people were straight hood. It was a real movement that no one was prepared for. They were prepared for a particular artist, but no one was prepared for 200,000 bikers stemming from a rap group.
“Where we came from, we never followed any rules. There was a lot of things that were happening that people couldn’t understand or control. It was crazy but in the middle of all that we were making history. We were breaking records.
“We dropped two platinum albums back to back with DMX. Ryde Or Die Vol. 1 was responsible for breaking all of the acts on the album, including outside acts. We broke Drag-On on that, we broke Eve, The Lox. We introduced Beanie Sigel and got Jay-Z on that. It was just a moment that brought hip-hop together and I don’t think people give it enough props.
“It’s about the facts because if you don’t let people know, then they’ll never know. You can be quiet and humble but we don’t’ live in a quiet, humble world. These people don’t understand that the reason they got this crew is because of that crew or that this element came from that element.
“All of the crews I see now have a little Ruff Ryder element in them. All of them. The only one I might take out is Cash Money because we started around the same time. They have their own element and they’ve stuck to their script. I feel like we influenced G-Unit, this one, that one, a lot of them.
“We especially influenced crews from New York. There’s a little bit of our element in there, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s a super good thing. Everybody needs a blueprint. At the time, the Roc-A-Fella and Ruff Ryders movements were competitive. I was there to see all that and it was crazy.”