When it comes to the era of the late ‘90’s through the early aughts that saw Hip Hop boutique labels and joint ventures rack up an unprecedented amount of sales, Swizz Beatz thinks the Ruff Ryders collective has been overlooked. During an interview with Tim Westwood, Swizz looked back at the “Double R’s” run whistfully, saying the door was still open on collaborating with his crewmembers.
“I just feel like the whole Ruff Ryders thing wasn’t given its proper props,” Swizz said. “It was a great time for Hip Hop; we was very unique at the time. Nobody really brought in a culture within another culture—the bike culture—extreme sports mixed with the street. We had something really unique that happened and blew up real fast. People forget we were breaking all kinds of records, and I think we was going so strong and so powerful that the industry couldn’t deal with it no more.”
The numbers would seem to back up Swizz’s claim as Eve, DMX and the Ruff Ryders compilation albums alone were responsible for over 14 million albums sold. Those RIAA confirmed totals don’t include works by The Lox and Swizz’s early production for the likes of Jay-Z and N.O.R.E. While he has currently fallen on hard times with multiple arrests and substance abuse issues, DMX was largely responsible for some of those gaudy sales numbers. X’s debut, It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot is certified four times platinum, while …And Then There Was X boasts certified sales of over 5 million.
Swizz attributed some of the industry’s selective amnesia in regards to Ruff Ryders to the fact that the group wasn’t aggressive about promoting themselves. Founders Darrin “Dee” Dean and Joaquin “Waah” Dean were both known for spending a majority of their time on bikes and in boardrooms brokering deals. And while Swizz, Eve, The Lox and Drag-On are currently the most active members, Swizz added that could potentially change with one phone call, saying, “We can start it up at anytime…whenever the artists are ready to start it up, I’m here on deck.”