DMX Explains Why He Did Not Want To Do Ruff Ryders Anthem (Video)
Twenty-one years ago, DMX carried his debut and sophomore albums to the top of the charts. By the end of 1998, the Yonkers, New York MC was a Hip-Hop superstar, giving Rap fans a plethora of hardcore anthems. One song, in particular, would help brand X’s crew, The Ruff Ryders, as a household name along in an era of Bad Boy, Death Row, No Limit, Roc-A-Fella, and so many other cliques.
“Ruff Ryders Anthem” (embedded below) was just that. Produced by a teenager named Swizz Beatz, the keyboard-driven song was complemented by a music video of motorcycle and ATV stunts as well as a menacing crew of rappers that included X, The LOX, ONYX, Drag-On, and many more. However, in a new video interview with GQ, DMX reveals that he was very resistant to the song.
“I’ve got a huge weight on my shoulders; I’m responsible for my songs. Each album has to do many things. Many things,” stresses the MC. “I take that into consideration as I’m recording them, as I’m doin’ ’em. I don’t take that responsibility lightly.”
The prodigious producer urged X to record to his track. Notably, Swizz’s two uncles and his aunt founded Ruff Ryders. He was down with the camp by blood, and able to make a case with the burgeoning rapper. “That was Swizz Beatz’ first record. That was one of the fastest songs I wrote; I wrote it in about 15 minutes,” X recalls around the 1:15 mark of the video. “I actually didn’t want to write it. I didn’t want to do that song. The beat was simple and repetitive. The flow I came up with was just like so many other songs with so much substance. I was like, ‘This song is like f*ckin’ ABC’s, like elementary.'” He spits a portion of the bars that feature short bars with monosyllabic rhymes at the end.
Looking back though, X sees the value in the fan-favorite from It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot, his debut. “I’m glad I did do it. I listened. Swizz was like, ‘Yo, just do it. Do this…’ I’m like, aight. And it worked out. I wrote two other songs that same night. I wrote ‘F*ckin’ With D,’ and ‘Let Me Fly’ that same night. It was like, ‘Aight, I can do this. Aight. You want me to [do ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’? Aight, here.” While squads such as Marley Marl’s Juice Crew or Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group made series out of anthem records, X refuses. “We did a remix to it [for DJ Clue], but I would never do another version of it, ’cause it’s its own thing.”
He credits Ruff Ryders’ Wah Dean with the decision to involve the motorcycles, dirt-bikes, and 4-wheelers. “That was my second video. My first video, ‘Get At Me Dog’ was [filmed] in The Tunnel, crazy. They were like, ‘Yo, we gotta take it to the streets.'” The rapper was amenable. Previously, Swizz has also spoken of X’s resistance to the would-be single.
In looking at other songs, DMX opens up about the void he filled in Rap. He addresses the anger in his delivery for “What’s My Name,” from 1999’s …And Then There Was X. Recalling an overall happy experience recording in Miami, Florida, the rapper says his mood regularly changes when he sees the microphone. “When I get in that studio, it’s a whole other situation. It’s like, ‘F*ck you, suck my d*ck. F*ck outta here. B*tch-ass ni**a. I’ll k*ll you.’ It’s kinda who I am.” X believes there’s a place for these moods. “Sometimes, people wanna feel worse; they don’t always want to feel better. Like, however the f*ck you wanna feel, there should be a song that helps you feel that way. That you can just ride to, and feel like you want to feel. Who the f*ck wants to be happy all the time? You’ll get taken advantage of, all the time. Nobody’ll take you serious.”
While the Irv Gotti-co-produced track was the final addition to X’s third album, “Party Up (Up In Here)” was also a late entry. Swizz Beatz handed X the beat at a time he says he felt pressured to followup 1998’s success with another #1, platinum effort. “I didn’t make it for the club; the beat is for the club. I just spit some real sh*t to it. [Swizz Beatz] can make a beat that everybody can dance to; I’ll spit some sh*t that people can beat somebody up to. It’s a good combination.” In looking back at the song today, the rapper says he likes it. “My music is not just for the moment; it’s forever.”
Elsewhere, DMX reveals that “X Gon’ Give It To You” was planned to be on Grand Champ. However, he parted with the track in negotiations for the Cradle 2 The Grave soundtrack. In the end, the rapper’s Bloodline Records was able to produce the compilation, featuring his artists Big Stan and Profit.
Looking back at his career, X notes, “I come from a real place when I make these songs, and I don’t compromise.”
Earlier this month, Swizz Beatz revealed that DMX is back on Def Jam Records, the label where he released all of the hits listed above. Earlier this year, X—who was released from a West Virginia prison in January, toured in celebration of 20 years since It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot.
#BonusBeat: DMX’s “Ruff Ryders Anthem”: