28-year-old producer Swizz Beatz has come a long way since having to prove himself to his uncles Waah and Dee Dean (founders of the Ruff Ryders). As an in-house producer for the label responsible for the success of Eve and DMX, Swizzy has worked hard over the years solidifying his position as one of the top producers in the game.
Working with the likes of Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Brown and just about every major rapper for the past 10 years, his production resume speaks for itself. All while crafting hits for these artists, he’s also created hooks and mastered almost every aspect of making a hit. So after years of contemplating, the one man band man, as he calls himself, finally felt the timing was perfect for him to step behind the mic and release his solo debut. With his first single, “It’s Me Snitches,” already a certified banger, it seems a though he couldn’t have timed it any better.
With One Man Band Man coming this summer, the platinum plus beatmaker had a rather interesting discussion with BallerStatus.com about the process of recording an album, why he’s only got three beats on his own album and some very personal and important tracks that stand out to him.
In the words of Swizzy, it’s SHOWTIME!
BallerStatus.com: Being that you are known for your production, why did you decide it was time for you to jump on the mic?
Swizz Beatz: It was just something that I personally wanted to do. Also, it was something that I wanted to do for the fans that sing my hooks and bang my beats. A lot of people always told me that I should do it, but then the time that they was telling me, there was producers that was already out at the time. I just didn’t feel it was a clear lane for me. This was always just about timing.[As for the album], everything just happened organically. I didn’t have no pressure with doing the album. Like, I’ve had songs that I’ve been working on for other people that I made that I just didn’t end up giving to them — with my vocals already on them and lyrics already done. People was just telling me, “That’s hot, that’s definitely hot,” so I was getting a lot of good feedback. I tested it with the “It’s Me Snithes” record and here we are.
BallerStatus.com: In a recent interview with Billboard, you said you wanted to keep the focus of the album on yourself and didn’t wanna depend on other artists… Being that the public is really only familiar with Swizz for creating the music moreso than anything, do you feel you’re able to hold down an album by yourself?
Swizz Beatz: That’s just a risk I’m taking. I think a lot of artists, now-a-days, and lot of labels should make the artists take more risks — doing things and putting them out themselves, and not basing their album on features. It’s like are we selling these features or are we trying to break a new artist? If people wanted these features, they’d buy the features albums that people are already doing. I’m just tired of it anyways. It’s so predictable, it’s not adding to hip-hop and it’s not adding to the culture. Some are cool, but not the whole album. It’s just like, I got my five seconds, so I’m gonna say “stop.”
BallerStatus.com: On that note, is this solo album strictly you?
Swizz Beatz: My album is everything that everybody is not expecting. I don’t got all the features they think and I didn’t produce all the beats. I took the production side as an opportunity to break new acts and break new talent because a lot of people are doing a lot of amazing things and not getting the credit and recognition they supposed to get. It’s not fair to the industry and it’s not fair to these people who work hard. I just took my album like, “All these new producers, let me give them a name.” We got a new producer named Snags, one named Eric McKain, we got The Individuals… a whole bunch of people. These guys are gonna get their publishing and get a chance to start their production career. I’m just happy to add to that. I’ve done enough production. I don’t need no credits on other peoples’ songs just because it’s on my album. That’s not fair.
BallerStatus.com: So, there will be no production from Swizzy on your album?
Swizz Beatz: Well, I did three songs. I did “It’s Me…,” the single. The second single will be produced by Eric McKain though.
BallerStatus.com: How does that work? With yourself being a producer and working with others… when you’re in the studio, do your ideas conflict, or maybe you have two different visions for the song.
Swizz Beatz: I wasn’t in producer mode when I was working on my album. These tracks that I have were from CDs that were submitted that had been laying around from other albums, etc. I just started throwing in different CDs and vibing and not looking at the names. The people that I picked are the people that I mentioned. A hot beat is a hot beat. I didn’t have no problems with the producers. I was pretty much surprising them by calling and being like, “Yo, this joint made it. This is hot.”
BallerStatus.com: (laughs) Man, that’s probably crazy for them getting a call from Swizzy saying, “I’m using your beat.”
Swizz Beatz: Oh yea, that’s a reality show right there.
BallerStatus.com: Back to you being a producer again. What was it like to be on the other side of the ball, recording and rapping, instead of dealing with the music?
Swizz Beatz: It’s the same thing. It’s the same process. I just took a lot of pressure off, as far as me having to come up with the beats. That was different, but as far as the decision making, the concept, the sound of the record or creative changes, that process is the same.
BallerStatus.com: So far, whats the reaction been to “It’s Me Snitches?”
Swizz Beatz: Psst, outrageous. All on YouTube, they’ve been putting up a lot of my performances. Like if you go there and search for my performances, it’s just crazy. Like, you’d think I’ve been rapping and up on stages for years.
BallerStatus.com: So you’ve been performing live?
Swizz Beatz: Oh yea, I’m in. I’m going in hard. They ready for me to do a tour.
BallerStatus.com: Tell me about that experience. Have you ever really performed live before coming with this album?
Swizz Beatz: I was a DJ first, so I’ve never been scared of the crowd. I used to DJ for DMX. We used to be in front of 50,000 people, so I had to control that crowd at all times. So, that’s one of my strong points — how to control the crowd, knowing what the people want and keeping them full of energy.
When I go perform, I don’t just do “It’s Me Snitches,” I do a medley of my other songs, my hooks, everything. I make it a big event. I keep the energy high. I love it.
BallerStatus.com: I read that you were actually drunk when you recorded “It’s Me Snitches.”
Swizz Beatz: I wasn’t drunk, but I was celebrating my birthday. [It came together] that night. Right then and there. I did the beat first. I was just banging out beats, getting into my zone… I just do what I do with all my songs: I catch the vibe, turn the mic on and whatever comes out, came out.
I don’t write. All that stuff was just ideas that just came out. I lay the foundation, then I go back and fix this up or fix that up, like “Play that again. I can change that word or I can make it tighter.” That’s how I do my songs.
BallerStatus.com: Tell me more about the album, One Man Band Man. What people should expect upon purchasing it?
Swizz Beatz: It’s called One Man Band Man. I figured it described me because I’m one person, but my movement is like a band — from all the music I’ve put out as long as I’ve been doing my thing. Also, the longevity, other things I’ve brought to the table from business ventures, etc. So people are always like, “How do you do all this in one day?” I tell them, “I’m the one man band man.”
As far as the album, like I said earlier, it’s what everybody is not expecting as far as the features and me doing the beats. But it’s everything you’re expecting from a hip-hop banger.
BallerStatus.com: Is there any tracks on the album that are very special to you or your favorite?
Swizz Beatz: All of them. But I got this song called “The Funeral.” It’s just like a song talking about how the world is crazy out there and you got all these people doing crazy things. We live right in. It could be a hot summer day and everything is going good for you and you forget about all those crazy things, so the music is hard, but it’s got pianos in it, almost to where Jill Scott could sing on it. But, the things that I’m saying on track is just crazy. It’s like a page out of a Stephen King book.
I got this other song called “Part Of The Plan” where I sample Coldplay. The concept for it is like: part of the plan is not to make it in this world. My part of the plan IS to make it. It’s starting off letting people know that it hasn’t always been sweet, like “Me and brother arguing to see who picks the mouse up / open up the oven door to heat the house up,” you see what I’m saying? It’s crazy.
BallerStatus.com: Wow, ok. So you’re getting kinda personal on this album?
Swizz Beatz: Yep, but I did it in a way where it goes for everybody. It’s different situations.
I got a song called “The Product Man,” the intro to the album. It’s like, “I got the product man, my product is my music / I sell it on the strip, something like narcotics man, the strip is the industry / Beats, hooks, no samples, I get it in.”
The album is crazy man.
BallerStatus.com: You mention being the one man band man. You obviously have to juggle several different aspects in your career — producing, running a label and most recently recording this album. Was it hard to balance all this while putting this solo record together?
Swizz Beatz: No because I’m cool at incorporating a lot of different things and making it work. Stuff just works out for me, I dunno.