Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
Having made his mark behind the scenes as a noted producer and label executive with his Full Surface imprint, Swizz Beatz enters new territory with his solo debut, "G.H.E.T.T.O. Stories," due Dec. 10 via DreamWorks.
Since he is known as the creator of the Ruff Ryders' signature sound, it may come as a shock to some that the Bronx, N.Y., native has decided to step out from behind the boards.
"I felt it was time," Swizz Beatz says of his solo debut. "I wanted to do an album where I had no rules. I have a lot of ideas [as a producer], but other artists are either scared or they don't want to do them. They were holding me back because everyone thinks of me as doing the same old stuff. No one wants to change up or do anything new. I was getting tired of it, so I decided to do my own album -- to bring people into my world."
The album also marks the first time the DJ/producer steps in front of the microphone as an MC. "I tested my flow with the 'hood first," Swizz Beatz says. "I didn't just come out and decide, 'OK, I'm going to rap today.' I've been doing hooks and rocking the crowd as a DJ for years. And before all of that, I was rapping. I never really got my heart up to do it on wax.
"I was just joking around when I laid two records, and people wanted to know who it was," he continues. "When they found out it was me, they were shocked. I kept the music with me and played it everywhere I'd go. I kept getting the same response so I decided to do it for real. There were also a lot of people who said I needed to stick to just doing beats. I listened to that at first, but I didn't just start rapping for no reason. I could mess around and be as successful at this as I am at producing. But if I don't try, I'll never know."
With guest appearances from N.O.R.E., Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Lil' Kim, and Eve, among others, "G.H.E.T.T.O. Stories" features a host of unique collaborations, including a Jadakiss/Ron Isley duet ("Big Business") and "We Did It Again," which pairs Ja Rule with Metallica.
Swizz Beatz explains the purpose behind G.H.E.T.T.O. Stories. "It was all an experiment to get different artists on stuff that I always wanted to hear them on, like Ja Rule and Metallica on some straight hard rock stuff," he says. "I didn't do that record for the hip-hop heads. They don't have to respect that record. I don't care if they like that record because it's not for them. That record is for my Limp Bizkit fans, my Metallica fans; all my fans in the rock area. That's why I didn't switch the beat up. I let Metallica play all the instruments real hard-loud rock s***!"
Excerpted from the Dec. 7, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.
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