Friday, May 14, 2010

Behind the Boards Pt. 7: Swizz Beatz

I'm a huge fan/critic of Swizz Beatz. No question the dude has laced some top-notch artists with heat, but for every banger I hear, I feel like he releases a couple beats that I would classify as mediocre, or dare I say... "wack." Nonetheless, Swizz deserves to be acknowledged for the numerous hit songs that he's crafted, as well as the dope "NYC-keyboard" tracks he's done. In an era when sampling was popular, Swizz threw the industry a curveball and created tracks using keyboards such as the popular Korg Triton, among others. The difference was, where other "keyboard producers" crafted songs that were cheesy or sounded like pop music songs, Swizz was able to get the grittiness out of these same keyboards, and create some of the hardest beats NYC had heard. Take a listen...

1) DMX- "Ruff Ryders Anthem"

When Dark Man X came onto the scene with "Ruff Ryders Anthem," it set the tone for the rest of his career. His debut album, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot is one of the best Hip Hop albums of the '90s, and one of the "hardest" as well. If you didn't know what DMX was about before "Ruff Ryders Anthem," you most definitely knew afterwards. "Anthem" was Swizz' first big hit, and he instantly became the go-to producer in the Ruff Ryders camp.

2) Busta Rhymes- "Touch It"

It's hard for me to choose what my favorite Busta song is since the dude has hits for days, but "Touch It" might be top 3 for me. Swizz sampled Daft Punk's song, "Technologic," and created an amazing hook, and programmed some hard-hitting drums to craft one of my favorite songs of 2006.

3) Jay-Z- "Money, Cash, Hoes"

Nothin' better than a little braggadocio from Jay-Z, and "Money, Cash, Hoes" is a perfect example of that. Jay spits over Swizz' cascading synthesizers, and DMX even stops by to lend a hand. When this was released, no other producer was doing beats like this. A straight up keyboard beat, that happened to have the dirt and grit that NYC rappers were looking for.

4) Styles P- "Good Times"

Wanna talk about a classic song? "Good Times," or known by most people as "I Get High," absolutely bangs. With the Freda Payne sample for the hook, it's easy to figure out what this song is about, but it helps create an unforgettable track.

5) DMX- "Party Up"

The definitive DMX song. Period. I still don't think I've heard a song that gets me as hype as "Party Up." I remember the first time I heard this was back in the day, watching TRL. All I could think was "this DMX guy is crazy." Eleven years later, it still keeps its spot as one of the rowdiest songs in Hip Hop history.

6) Beyonce- "Check On It"

Officially released as the official song for the 2006 movie The Pink Panther, Swizz gave Beyonce an infectious beat, and brought in Texas-based rappers Bun B and Slim Thug to help add a little street cred to the track. It ended up reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and was a chart-topper overseas as well.

7) Cassidy- "I'm a Hustla"

By sampling a line from Jay-Z's "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," Swizz made this one of my favorite songs of 2005. "I'm a Hustla" was the first song by Cassidy that I gave a serious listen to, and it didn't disappoint. The beat is heavy, and Cassidy spits some straight battle raps.

8) T.I.- "Bring 'Em Out"

While it's not my favorite T.I. song, "Bring 'Em Out" is still a noteworthy song. It reached #9 on the Billboard charts, and was yet another Swizz-produced song that sampled a Jay-Z song, although this time it was "What More Can I Say."

*Excuse the dude dancing in this video, but it's the only one I could find where the embedding wasn't disabled.

9) Jay-Z- "Jigga My Nigga"

"Jigga My Nigga" is probably my favorite Jay-Z/Swizz collaboration. It was featured on the Ruff Ryders' first album, Ryde or Die Vol. 1. I still can't believe they never made a video for this- anytime this song drops, people go crazy.

10) DMX- "Get It On the Floor"

Although I wouldn't put "Get It On the Floor" in the same category as any of the previously listed DMX songs, it's still dope. Swizz definitely helps to create a raucous atmosphere saying, "if you don't wanna party then your ass gotta go." When DJs drop this at clubs, it usually sets the place off.

Honorable Mention: Beyonce- "Upgrade U," Eve- "Scenario 2000," Eve- "Gotta Man," Ruff Ryders- "WWIII," Jay-Z- "Coming of Age (Da Sequel)," The L.O.X.- "All For the Love"


  1. Your not listing this guy as your 7th best producer. Are you only doing producers in the game now. You might want to add Eric B or Marley. I wouldn't put Swizz in my top 20.

    You say he got the grittiness out of those synths.

    To me they were just corny. Money Cash Hoes and Good times were bangers. The rest I could do with out.

    He's just the conrniest dude in hip hop to me.
    I always saw Alicia Keys as a corny chick. No wonder they hooked up. Two corny ass mofo's together.

  2. haha you can do without "Party Up," or "Touch It," or "Ruff Ryders Anthem?" Personally, those are three of my favorite songs. Anyways, I'm not placing the "Behind the Boards" series is in no particular order. If it were, Swizz would be way at the bottom of the list, and Premier, RZA, Pete Rock, Dr. Dre, etc., would be at the top of the list. There were a couple days where I was listening to some old Swizz stuff and I figured I'd do a post on him. He's at #7 only because it's #7 in the series. And yeah, there's no denying that the dude is pretty corny, but I can't cosign that Alicia Keys comment.