It's hard to argue against N.O.R.E.'s assertion that his great friend of almost two decades, Swizz Beatz, is one of the Top 3 (or 5) greatest hip-hop producers of all-time. Swizz's career speaks for itself; from Jay Z, Busta Rhymes, and Lil Wayne to Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, R. Kelly, and even Ron Isley, countless greats have laid vocals over the Bronx native's frenzied, crowd-moving tracks. And let's not forget, Swizz's sound fueled one of the game's most beloved dynasties and musical movements with his family’s franchise: the legendary Ruff Ryders.
Even with an endless reign of platinum, plaques, Grammys, and worldwide acclaim, Swizzy stays working. Last week, he was in the midst of a worldwide run that included stops in Shanghai and Dubai for business meetings before he settled in Miami for a couple days. Not only did Swizz link up with N.O.R.E. for a new track while in Florida, but the two sat down together for over three hours for a taping of Drink Champs.
Chief on Swizz's agenda was to make his episode the most talked-about interview N.O.R.E. and co-host DJ EFN had ever had, so the conversation covered his wife Alicia Keys and ex Mashonda, why he used to hate money, hit songs he wishes he'd created, and why he "needed" to produce DMX's new album.
"I think I do," the beat maestro rationalized about having to produce X's new opus, which Swizz says is being eyed by Epic Records. "Money doesn’t define you or your lifestyle. When you go back and look at the things that really make sense, it's brotherhood. I know a lot of rich billionaires and I call them 'poor kings.' They got big boats, hookers on them, no family. Is that really living life? They're not happy. I don’t care about your money. I never did music for money. I did music for an expression, for an outlet that I couldn't express in an academic way that I figured how to do in a creative way."
The first offering that we’ve heard from the batch of DMX and Swizz collaborations is "Bane is Back."
"The relationship between two brothers," Swizz said when asked about the most important dynamic between him and X. "The music comes later. The fact [that] you can reach and pull your brother with you and walk that walk. It's more than money, more than a deal, more than music. I f—k with X right now because he’s spiritually and mentally ready. He's always been lyrically ready. But if you're not spiritually and mentally ready to go out to the world then it's a waste of time. Everybody could want the return of him, but he's gotta want the return for himself."
Swizz delves deeper into X's new LP, reveals a classic hit record that Jadakiss turned down, and remembers battling with Kanye West.
Tune in to Drink Champs every Thursday at 11 PM ET on REVOLT. Be sure to catch the re-air Saturday nights at midnight ET.