"Stay Far From Timid, Only Make Moves When Your Hearts In It, and Live The Phrase: Sky's The Limit..."
© Christopher "Notorious BIG" Wallace R.I.P

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Pick of the Litter...

The late '90s, post Biggie/Pac and Bad Boy Era, was undoubtedly the golden age for New York/East Coast hip-hop.  Not to take away from the East Coast as a whole, but New York indeed held the spotlight. 1998-99 is still the year that  many hip-hop heads look back on,  due to its 
abundnce of many unforgettable classics. 

From  Jay-Z (alongside Dame and Biggs)  officially starting the Roc-A-Fella movement by bringing in the "Broad Street Bully", the entry of the LOX, to Big L's Lifestylez of tha Poor & Dangerous still being 
in heavy rotation, can't forget about Lauryn Hill owning both the charts and radio with her magnum opus debut, and Canibus generating that huge underground buzz. Hip-Hop made a transformation from pop 
and flashy to raw and street and there was all but one label that made sure it didn't turn back around. 

Ruff Ryders, founded by Chivon Dean and her brothers Dee and Waah (whom are also Swizz Beatz's uncles), was the cornerstone of the late '90s. With the culmination of production by Dame Grease and Swizz's beats (no pun intended), both undeniably encompassed the sound of the streets. Along with the inclusion of rap's most hardcore rappers,  Ruff Ryders stood to make a powerful movement for years to come.    

"He was the Voice of the Have Nots..." Irv Gotti ("Behind the Music: DMX" '10)

DMX, who was the first signee to the label, was Ruff Ryders' flagship artist. Becoming a multi-platinum selling artist after dropping both his debut and sophomore albums all in one year was an incredible feat that has yet to be challenged by any emcee.  If there's one thing these 

albums demonstrated (It's Dark and Hell is Hot , Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood) it was the evident chemistry between both producers Dame Grease and Swizz Beatz with X. As the hit track "Ruff Ryders Anthem" begin to play with the hard hitting bass lines by Swizz, we foresee what's to come by the simple exclamation by X, "...somethin' new". In '98, hoods everywhere rejoiced. 

"No More Shiny Suits Bitch..." echoed Styles P over the backdrops of the 2000 Lox Swizz Beatz produced single, "Wild Out". It was officially the end of the shiny suits and mafioso-esque era. No more "executive producers being all in the videos, dancing" (no shots), no more wanna-be players and big willies (sound familiar?), and no more Rap/Pop-friendly records. It was time to take it back to the streets.  With the help of newcomers Eve, Drag-On, and fresh out of the helms of Bad Boy, The Lox, Ruff Ryders was stepping on other record labels necks.  For once the necessity of a Pop commercial record was no more. 

What Ruff Ryder was able to accomplish during its rise was indeed phenomenal. Many labels to this day are still attempting at figuring out this  blueprint. Through its incredible run, Ruff Ryder Entertainment 
presented us with a number of classic material as well as the talented hip-hop figures in Eve, Jadakiss, Styles P, Sheek Louch, Drag-On, and most notably DMX, to go along with it. Years after its last group 
album, The Redemption Vol. 4, in '05 and the previous remix to Jadakiss's Last Kiss single "Who Real", many are still rocking their RR logo'd bikers vest while popping wheelies on their Kawasaki all in 
anticipation for another Double R return. 

"You know the streets don't know how to act..."

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