Back with another installment of Hip-Hop Made, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the birth of Hip-Hop, Swizz Beatz sat down with Audacy Hot 93.7’s DJ Buck and Big Regg for an in-depth conversation about all things Hip-Hop, his career, and more.
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Swizz touched on finding his calling as a Producer through his time as a DJ and discovering his sound, to working with the likes of DMX in the past and now working with up and comers like Scar Lip, plus a whole lot more.
There’s no denying everybody know a Swizzy beat when it comes on, so what is it exactly that led Swizz to find his distinct sound? “I think that came from, that came from just wanting to be different,” Swizz expressed. “You know, like back then, at that time, you had to have a distinct sound to make it, you know. If you had the same sound as somebody else that was kind of a violation.”
Calling out how different it is from “today where everybody can pull from the same sound and add a name tag.” Swizz asserted, “back then that wouldn't have worked, back then you had to be your own movement, you understand?”
He continued, “like Timbaland, you know what a Timbaland beat — he got the babies crying and all of this or that. Oh, that's a Timbaland beat right there. You know a Pharrell beat, you know, Just Blaze, you know, Kanye, like Dre, like everybody just had their own sound. And so it was important for me to stop sampling and create my own sound. Because when I was sampling, it wasn't giving me my own sound. And then a lot of people was just using the same thing. So when I stopped sampling, that's how you got ‘Ruff Ryder’s Anthem’ and all those songs from that point on, just because it was distinct, it was new, and I was able to just do what I wanted to do, you know? And the drums made the sound even more distinct.” Not to mention “the horns too,” as Regg added.
In keeping with the traditional Audacy Hip-Hop Made questions, Swizz was asked what was the first Hip-Hop song he heard that made him say — "oh, this is different… this is it."
Giving us a list of three for good measure, Swizz noted, “my first Hip-Hop cassette that I purchased when I got my box radio, Ultramagnetic MC’s “Ego Trippin’.”
“That's in my DNA,” Swizz expressed, “those drums, like, that energy. Like I couldn't believe that somebody did something like that. Right? I played that song, I repaired that tape at least 150 times.”
"Number two, and this is in no particular order, I'm just giving you the order that I heard em in, was ‘Eric B. Is President,’” by Eric B. & Rakim. “I remember… it just made you feel fresh," Swizz recalled. “Like, you know… you wanted to make sure you had the right outfit on… like you couldn't be whack and play 'Eric B. Is President' — at all.”
Claiming spot number three on his list is “South Bronx” by KRS-ONE. After hearing that Swizz said, “I knew I had a last name. It let me know that I was from a tribe of serious, serious, serious Hip-Hop, serious music. And you couldn't tell me I wasn't down with BDP — still to this day.”
After discussing the origination of Ruff Ryders, which he credits his grandmother for naming, Swizz went on to discuss one of the crew's most notable artists — the late DMX.
“It's crazy cuz it don't feel like he's gone, you know. Like I still feel his presence so much… I still have my moments where I'm just lost for words. Like, I'm just like, man, we had so much more to do, we had so much more things that we was planning. You know, right before he passed we was getting ready to get into this workout phase, you know, so that's why, you know, people seen me post some videos of him. Like, we had a professional trainer like we was really, he was ready to go crazy, you know what I'm saying? And, you know Allah just said it was his time. You know, like that man been through a lot since I've known him. And I know he in a better place now.”
Discussing how he sees so much of DMX’s energy in Scar Lip, one of the new artist he’s working with, Swizz revealed, “I honestly feel like DMX sent Scar Lip my way.”
“Like I've never seen an artist that just naturally have what I know DMX have. And they two different artists, two different levels — yes. But I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about in here,” Swizz said, no doubt pointing to his heart. “You know, like, that sis has been through a lot, like dog been through a lot. When you sit with her she's amazing and have a great heart, the same way X had a great heart. Like, she just represents the have-nots, like X represents the have-nots. And for her to gone through all those different things and still have a smile on her face, I'm like, man, she gotta win — her story is too crazy.”
Swizz also discussed how Hip-Hop saved his life, VERZUZ, his kids, and more. To hear the whole conversation, and trust, you definitely do — press play on the interview above.
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Stay tuned as Audacy continues to celebrate the birth and trailblazing influence of Hip-Hop. Follow Hip-Hop Made all through 2023, and listen to your favorite music on Audacy's Hip Hop Made suite of stations, as well as Conscious Hip Hop, Hip Hop Uncut, Women of Hip Hop, and more -- plus check out our talent-hosted Ed Lover's Timeless Throwbacks and Greg Street's Dirty South Hip Hop!