Album: It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot
Label: Ruff Ryders, Def Jam
Swizz Beatz: “I made that song right before I moved back to New York to start the Ruff Ryder movement. I was living in Atlanta at the time but I wasn’t producing in Atlanta. I was a DJ first, so I was flying back and forth DJing for DMX and stuff like that.
“It was hard because no one accepted me as a producer. They were like. ‘Oh, you a producer? Nah, Irv Gotti’s a producer, Dame Grease is a producer, P.K. is a producer. You DJ, stick to DJing.’ So I was like, ‘Alright, but I like to produce as well.’
“I didn’t even know I was producing. I was just making tracks. I wasn’t a producer at the time, I was a beatmaker. I was just making beats for my mixtapes to make them sound different. Once I learned I could make a track by taking all of the acapella and music out, I was like, ‘Damn, how much can you get for a track? Let me try to get on this right here.’
“I made the ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’ beat in Atlanta. It was me just bugging out, having my New York influence and having my Atlanta influence. That track was the perfect blend which was awkward and different at the time because nobody had ever heard anything like that—including my clique.
“DMX didn’t want to do it. He was like, ‘Man, that sounds like some rock ‘n’ roll track, I need some hip-hop shit. I’m not doing that. It’s not hood enough.’ I told him, ‘Yo, we can make it hood!’ And then my uncles [Darrin "Dee" Dean and Joaquin "Waah" Dean who ran Ruff Ryders] said, ‘Yo, we should step out the box a little bit.’ We bugged him and bugged him to do this shit.
“Then he came in and did it and we were just hyping him up. The ‘What!’ ad-lib and all of that came about in the middle of us hyping him up. We left it in the track to add energy. Collectively, we came up with that vibe. It was his best shit at that time. Since then, X has trusted my judgment.
“It was funny because before I moved to Atlanta, my uncles asked me, ‘Who do you want to hold it down while you go to school?’ It was between Dame Grease and Young Lord. I felt like Grease needed it more. Young Lord was a little more established and Grease was living in the hood. Grease doesn’t even know [that I said this] but I suggested, ‘You should rock with Grease on the joint.’
“Then, I went to Atlanta and they had already started work on the album. I was like, ‘You finished the album?! What do you mean you finished the album?!’ So I said, ‘Fuck that, I’m going up there.’
“I had an arsenal of beats but by then I had stopped dropping in. Fortunately, I was blessed because my track cut through. I was still able to get my shine even though I only did that one song on It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot.