22 years ago, DMX launched himself into the mainstream’s consciousness with his introductory It's Dark and Hell Is Hot. The Billboard 200 chart-topping LP cemented the Yonkers-bred emcee as one of hip-hop’s top-tier lyricists.
It also elevated his Ruff Ryders clique to the upper echelon of hip-hop’s ranks alongside some of the most revered collectives to ever grace the game, from New York-founded Bad Boy Records and West Coast’s historic Death Row Records to Master P’s independant No Limit label.
Surprisingly, Dark Man X almost left the fan-favorited record on the chopping block during an early studio session. The 48-year-old recently sat down for an exclusive interview with men’s publication GQ where he shared insight on how some of his most iconic records came to be.
In the interview, X revealed that he initially had some reservations about laying down lyrics when he first heard the first few notes of the beat that was intended for “Ruff Ryders Anthem.” To put it simply, he thought the song was wack when he first heard it. He almost passed on it entirely until a then-burgeoning Swizz Beatz, who handled the production, urged X to reconsider and at least give the record a chance.
“That was Swizz Beatz’ first record. That was one of the fastest songs I wrote. I wrote it in about 15 minutes,” DMX recollected. “I actually didn’t want to write it. I didn’t want to do that song. The beat was simple and repetitive. The flow I came up with was just like so many other songs with so much substance. I was like, ‘This song is like f*cking ABC’s, like elementary.’”
“I’m glad I did do it. I listened. Swizz was like, ‘Yo, just do it. Do this…’ I’m like aight and it worked out! I wrote two other songs that same night. I wrote ‘F*ckin’ With D,’ and ‘Let Me Fly’ that same night. It was like, ‘Aight, I can do this. Aight. You want it? Here, whatever.”
As to whether there will ever be a follow-up to the anthem, X said he could never do another version of it “cause it’s its own thing.”
Read what else Dark Man X had to say about other classics from his iconic discography in the rest of GQ interview.
(Photo: John Lamparski/FilmMagic)