Album: Ryde Or Die Vol. 2
Label: Ruff Ryders, Interscope
Swizz Beatz: “I definitely envisioned that whole song 100%. My uncles had input in it because they were hands on with everything, but at that point we were on autopilot. Everybody knew I knew what I was doing. I was comfortable in my craft because we were making hits.
“I knew this was going to be big. We were making a statement by having Scarface and Snoop. Me and Snoop had been kicking it so that phone call went through and the Scarface call went through [and we got them]. Then you’ve got Jadakiss on there and a new artist named Yung Wun that I had from Atlanta. That covered a lot.
“I thought, ‘Damn, how am I going to shine?’ I was the person that was running down on people saying, ‘State your name, gangsta. Where you from?’ I thought it was a cool way to intro it, rather than a chorus every time. I was like, ‘We need something that’s passing it off. What’s the pass off?’
“I was in the studio vibing when I came up with that intro. Those lines say everything about the artist and who was coming next. It was a creative way to get it to the next level. Then at the end we would do the chorus. The chorus was sung by Cross, who’s my artist. That was him doing all the hypes like, ‘We not in the street, we is the streets!’ That was fun.
“I was into my art stuff back then and I was hyped up to the point where I put paint on my eye [in the video] like I was the maestro. I just wanted to look different.
“When I think about doing those records, I think about how many people didn’t exist back then that exist now. How so many producers and rappers didn’t exist at that time and how sonically, things didn’t exist at that time.
“I was breaking down a lot of sonic doors for producers because when I came in it was the sample era. I was one of the first people to lead the synth era. It was keyboard—no sampling, just expressing your art through bugged out sounds.
“Rockwilder came up to me like, ‘Yo, good looking for opening up that door.’ Pharrell and a lot of people were like, ‘By you doing that, we were able to express ourselves as well.’
“Puff dominated the market when I first came out. So it was like if you didn’t have that loop, you were out the game. I was chasing the loops. Then Puff would come out with the loops and I’d be like, ‘Damn, I just had that loop.’ That happened all the time!
“A hot loop is like everybody having the same record. So I’d be like, ‘Damn, he just used the joint I was going to. Now I’ve got to go back to basics.’ Once I found my freedom in original compositions I never went back. Then I found the business part. I was like, ‘Damn. I can drop this at any time and get more for publishing. I’m ready to go right now. The artist has just got to fill it in and we good.’