Born Kasseem Dean, Swizz Beatz was raised in the Bronx borough of New York City during the 1980s. Growing up, Dean was always surrounded by music as his family were in the business of music management. Dean’s father (Terrence) was from a family of entrepreneurs who, in the late 1980s, would launch their very own production house and label, Ruff Ryders Entertainment.
Operating in the Bronx, Ruff Ryders Entertainment became a production house providing artists with a manager, a booking agent, an in-house studio and a resident producer. Surrounded by hip-hop potentials in the ’80s, Dean decided to start his musical career as a DJ. However, with such a saturated market, plus knowing he had access to equipment through his family, Dean quickly dropped DJing and began trying his hand at production.
Before long, he was making a small name for himself in the Bronx, and with a buzz already building, his uncle, the now legendary record executive Joaquin ‘Waah’ Dean, made him the company’s resident producer. One of the company’s early clients was the late legend DMX. The company tried to launch DMX in 1992 with the single ‘Born Loser.’ However, even with its Columbia Records distribution, it went nowhere.
Although DMX (real name Earl Simmons) eventually abandoned the company to try other avenues, he and Dean remained in contact and one day, Dean presented the rapper with a beat. It was the beat for the epic ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’. ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’. Swizz Beatz. To begin with, Simmons wasn’t interested in recording the Ruff Ryders beat. Still, after much grovelling, Swizz convinced him to do it, and it paid off, becoming the lead single off his debut album, which went to number one in America, selling over four million copies.
It launched not only the career of DMX but also Swizz Beatz, and as DMX’s go-to producer when the rapper signed with Def Jam, Dean was also offered a production deal at Def Jam. From here, as DMX grew, so did Dean, as did his clientele. Before long, almost every hip-hop artist at Def Jam was making use of Dean.
As DMX’s producer, DJ and hype man, Swizz Beatz became a high-profile personality in hip-hop who would ad-lib on songs and feature in music videos for tracks produced by him. Since the birth of his career in the mid-90s, with his catalogue over three decades, Swizz Beatz has contributed production on over 160 albums, including studio projects, compilations, soundtracks and mixtapes. The producer has also produced 81 singles, many of which have been certified gold and platinum by the RIAA. Below we have scoured through his catalogue to highlight his 25 best productions.
The 25 best Swizz Beatz-produced tracks
- ‘Touch It’ – Busta Rhymes
- ‘Ruff Ryders Anthem’ – DMX
- ‘Banned From TV’ – Noreaga ft Big Pun, Cam’Ron & Nature
- ‘Jigga My N*gga’ – Ruff Ryders ft Jay-Z
- ‘Whuteva’ – Remy Ma
- ‘Party Up’ – DMX
- ‘I Can Transform Ya’ – Chris Brown ft Lil Wayne
- ‘On To The Next One’ – Jay-Z
- ‘Spit Your Game’ – Notorious B.I.G ft Twista & Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
- ‘Tambourine’ – Eve
- ‘Dr. Carter’ – Lil Wayne
- ‘Get Down’ – G-Unit
- ‘Fancy’ – Drake ft T.I
- ‘Gucci Time’ – Gucci Mane
- ‘Roman’s Revenge’ – Nicki Minaj ft Eminem
- ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ – Kanye West ft Jay-Z
- ‘Diamonds’ – French Montana ft J. Cole & Rick Ross
- ‘I Ain’t Gonna Lie’ – French Montana ft Lil Wayne
- ‘Lord Have Mercy’ ScHoolboy Q
- ‘Uproar’ – Lil Wayne
- ‘Swizz Montana’ – Swizz Beatz ft French Montana
- ‘Countdown’ – Snoop Dogg
- ‘Rise To The Top’ – Snoop Dogg ft Trey Songz
- ‘8-Ball’ Pop Smoke ft Kid Cudi
- ‘Money Cash Clothes’ – The Game ft A$AP Rocky