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Swizz Beatz says DMX was in a “happy space” while recording ‘Exodus’

The mega-producer and X’s longtime friend reflected on the creation and completion of the late rapper’s new album.

Swizz Beatz, DMX WireImage

DMX fans around the world today (May 28) are enjoying his first posthumous album, Exodus. The project’s bittersweet release was ushered in by his longtime friend and collaborator Swizz Beatz, who took an active role in both the recording process at Snoop Dogg’s Inglewood studio and the album’s completion.

Speaking with Rolling Stone, Swizz explained the emotional labor of finalizing Exodus, why X was excited to collaborate with so many artists for the project and more. Notably, Exodus is a more feature-heavy album than some of X’s previous works, with contributions from the likes of JAY-Z, Nas, Alicia Keys, the LOX, Lil Wayne, the Griselda crew, Usher and more. Besides Moneybagg Yo’s verse on “Money Money Money,” all collaborations happened while X was still alive.

“When Usher came in, he was blown away,” Swizz told the outlet. “My wife [Alicia Keys] came and played the piano and he was making requests for his favorite old songs. You just see him become a kid and a fan and appreciate it. Snoop would pop up on him and cook food for us. He went to Griselda’s studio space and did the verse there with them. Bono drew him some artwork and wrote him this letter talking about how it’s amazing having his voice next to another legend’s voice.”

Fans were understandably excited for “Bath Salts,” which sees another reunion between Nas and JAY-Z, along with X. Swizz explained the conversation that brought together X and Hov, who share a long history.

“It was a good one. He was like, ‘I’m not his enemy, I’m his brother. I think the song is perfect for the project. Give me a day to think about it and I’ll get back to you,’” Swizz recalled. “He got back to me three days later and it was on. That was something that was undeniable — that just had to be on this project because it was the caliber that we were aiming for.”

Swizz added that DMX was in a “happy space” while recording Exodus, though he wanted it to be his final album. The producer further explained that it was emotionally challenging for him to finish the record, but “he’s happy [DMX] got to complete the mission.”

“I can at least listen to a song now without breaking down,” he added. “I’m making it look strong, but I’m crushed, I’m destroyed, I’m hurt. But I had to pull this through for him and his family and for his legacy.”

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