Following up on the weekend’s review of Lil Kim & Dj Tomekk’s “Kimnotyze”, we wanted to go big on this addition to the “Moment in Time” series, and who better than Earl “DMX” Simmons to be front man for this. “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” released in ‘98 as part of DMX’s debut album “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot”, and as DMX’s fourth single ever. This record as a whole solidified X as the biggest rapper on the planet without any doubts, especially so after the untimely murders of 2Pac and Biggie.
Produced by Swizz Beatz, the song was initially rejected by DMX, with the New York rapper saying “Man, that sounds like some rock ‘n’ roll track, I need some hip-hop shit. I’m not doing that. It’s not hood enough” – Swizz Beatz replied with “Yo, we can make it hood!’ […] Then he came in and did it and we were just hyping him up. The ‘What!’ ad-lib and all of that came about in the middle of us hyping him up. We left it in the track to add energy. Collectively, we came up with that vibe. It was his best shit at that time”. What was initially an experiment for Swizz Beatz, an effort at blending his NYC and Atlanta influences together, became an all-time classic, totalling 165 million views on youtube since the music video released in ‘09.In terms of videography, a J. Jesses Smith-directed video saw X and his Ruff Ryders label-mates – The LOX, Eve and Swiss Beatz – working out as a group and riding motorcycles as well as quadbikes. The apparel on show is laden with Ruff Ryders branding, be it the hallmark “R” logo or “Ryders” emblazoned across oversized baseball jerseys, while bandanas, durags and fitted caps feature prominently. Around the halfway mark, the music cuts out to show X being interviewed outside one of many of his court appearances – “Mind your business lady”, he replies.The track has been immortalized as one of the biggest rap songs of all time, especially so through DMX’s live performance at Woodstock in ‘99 where over 220,000 people gathered to watch. A never-ending crowd made up of a sea of arms crossed into X’s were the biggest audience a rapper had ever had captive, and DMX capitalised on the opening, wearing nothing but blood red Timberland boots and a matching pair of dungarees while rapping in a display of power and influence very few have ever rivalled. Rest in peace, X.