Man, I’m good. I’m just grinding and trying to keep things hot around here.
What made you want to sign Bone Thugs N Harmony to your label Full Surface?
Bone is the new thing going down. Bone is the old new. They’re one of the greatest groups ever, so me teaming up with Bone, I’m a fan first. It was like a perfect marriage. I didn’t have to do artist development on the group.
Did you bring them into your world or did they bring you into their world on their new album Strength and Loyalty?
At first, I wanted to bring them into my world. But as a fan of music, the whole world doesn’t revolve around Swizz’ world. They’ve had fans since E.1999. I wanted to give their old fans what they wanted and fuse the old fans with the new fans that they’re about to gain and make it something refreshing. There’s no hip-hop groups out now that are doing it like Bone and there were no hip-hop groups out back then that were doing it like Bone. It means a lot to be exposed with Bone.
The Bone Thugs have classic albums. How did you approach making a full-length album with them?
I just wanted it to be classic. They’ve released solo albums and I believe some of them were watered down. There was no direction on some of the projects and everybody was doing their individual thing. I want this album to be looked at as a classic along with E.1999 and their Greatest Hits. I want this to be in there with that Bone collection. The album is hot.
How does “Candypaint” fit into the album?
That’s ridiculous. I feel that should be the next single, hands down. That’s sickening. That’s showing Bone having fun. Just being able to do one of those records that can play on urban radio and in the clubs, they’ve never really had songs like that except for the one with Biggie. You also have people that were 10 years-old when Bone came out that are new fans now.
Why did you use other producers on Strength and Loyalty?
Even with my album and Cassidy’s album, I’m not trying to produce the whole album. I’m just trying to give a lot of people chances to do different things and still be there creatively, directing traffic. I came up with the concept for “Bump In The Trunk” which is as good as the beat. Once you bring the vibe to the beat, you have the song. I like to be the one to bring those two parts together.
What are your goals for Strength and Loyalty?
My goals for Strength and Loyalty are to sell as many records as possible and just leave a real hard stamp that will make this album a hard act to follow.
How’s your debut solo album The One Man Band coming?
It’s crazier than I thought it would be. The response has been great. The single is “It’s Me, Bitches” and the remix is out now. My second single is “Here Comes Big Money.” You’re not going to see a video with a whole lot of money in it because that’s what people would be expecting. My album is everything that you’re not expecting.
Did you catch fans off guard with your single “It’s Me, Bitches”?
100%. That was a part of the plan.
What else are you doing on The One Man Band that people aren’t expecting?
I didn’t produce all the tracks. I have other producers like Smash, the Individuals, Neo da Matrix, Nottz and Needlz…I produced three songs on the album. I did “It’s Me, Bitches,” “Take A Picture” and “A Part Of The Plan” with Coldplay. I didn’t go and get a lot of features and do it all buddy-buddy. I don’t have love songs and all that on there. I did something that you’ll be happy to go to the bank with. This is an album, not a compilation.
Do you think fans will take you seriously as a rapper?
People know me as somebody who’s creative. I just want to give everybody the 100% effect. I’m not trying to go out there and compete like I’m the best lyrical rapper. I’m just having fun, showing skill and touching certain topics that have substance.
Did you always want to put out your own rap album?
The One Man Band thing came up because people were tired of me giving away songs to rappers who weren’t delivering. They would tell me, “That song was big, but that person didn’t really do their thing on that.” I was painting the picture a little bit clearer. The creator of the painting can explain the painting better than the person they sell it too. Everything I’ve done was taking a risk and I’m taking a risk now.
When I came in the game, everything was James Brown samples and I came in with the synthesized sounds and I was doing what I wanted to do. That was a risk and that’s what got me where I am now. That’s what’s got everybody saying, “It’s me, bitches.” Even if they don’t like anything else on the album, my mission is already completed.
What are your goals for The One Man Band?
My goal is just for it to be the craziest shit that fans have heard in a long time. I have a song on my album with no hook. There’s no song mode. I’m just rapping straight through, talking about some crazy shit out of a Stephen King book. There are no rules to the song. It’s just flowing. I’m just talking about a crazy-ass story. The song sounds like something Jill Scott could sing to but it’s got some crazy KRS-One-type boom-bap patterned drums. I stopped when I wanted to stop on a song. There were no rules to it. If I wanted to say something, I said it. Who wrote the rule that says you have to have three 16s and a hook? I’m not doing three 16s and a hook on none of my songs. I didn’t do an album that’s for radio. I didn’t have to cater to radio. I did this to cater to hip-hop. “It’s Me, Bitches” is under three minutes. The chorus is “I know who it is, it’s me, bitches.” Then it’s back to the music. I’m not forcing the music. There’s too much. There’s too much fucking music out there to be rapping for so long to get your point across.
Will you be doing more work with Coldplay?
I don’t know. Creatively, it could be sick.
You’ve always been great at making hooks. How do you approach writing hooks?
I just do what I feel. There’s no formula. I just say what’s on my mind at that moment. That’s just a gift that I have.
How has your sound changed from the early DMX days to now?
The movements are very slim now. The movements back then were heavy with Rocafella and Cash Money and all these different movements out there that were just strong. There were just groups and groups of creative people together. You had your power player on each team and it was like War of the Worlds. Now it’s War of the Sales. It wasn’t like that before. The way X came out back then, he probably wouldn’t make it now if he were just coming out. The lanes are so much different now. It’s the growth of hip-hop. There used to be stuff that really meant something in the streets and really meant something to the struggle of hip-hop. Now everybody has the blueprint like it’s cool. They might be struggling on the block, but I don’t see no hip-hop struggle.
How has your equipment changed over the years?
I just use what’s around me. I’m not really an equipment fanatic. I can get creative with anything.
You used to be criticized as a “Korg producer.” How did you feel about the early criticism?
I felt like they didn’t know me. Time will tell everything. 96 million records sold stands for something. If they don’t know now, they’ll learn later.
Will you be doing more work with the Lox on their new album?
How’s Cassidy’s album coming?
Cassidy’s album is three songs away from being done. His album is incredible. He’s in great shape and in a great frame of mind. He’s in great space. Eve’s album is also crazy. Full Surface has some crazy albums coming with Bone Thugs, Cassidy, Eve and myself. It’s going to be crazy.
Did you perspective on life change after seeing Cassidy go through what he did with his car accident?
I’m definitely focused from witnessing the shit firsthand. When you see it happen to somebody close to you, it’s like, ‘Damn!’ When it doesn’t happen directly to you or someone you know, it doesn’t affect you the same.
You started the trend of putting Jay-Z lines in songs as hooks. Are those easy to clear?
I do a lot of things for a lot of people. I went up there and spoke with Jay personally on the second one. I let T.I.’s people handle the first one for “Bring ‘Em Out.” I handled the business on “I’m A Hustler.” I started a major trend for doing that even though I got criticized for that. I thought it was ill. That was something that was popping back in the day on some old-school shit. I had “Bring ‘Em Out” and “I’m A Hustler” and they said, “Swizz is running out of ideas.” Are you fucking crazy? I came up with the fucking ideas. Then I came out with the Daft Punk shit. People can say what they want to say. “Bring ‘Em Out” helped T.I. get to the level he’s at right now. “I’m A Hustler” was helping Cassidy’s album to be his biggest one until he got locked up.
How do you feel when you hear other producers biting that idea?
It’s like when someone’s eating food and they’re complaining about the seasoning, but when you look on their plate, it’s clean to the bone. They’re thanking you by hating you so they can be cool. It’s easier to be a hater than a congratulator. I forgive everybody and I don’t hold no grudges. We’re all cool. There’s a bunch of little Swizz Beatz running around out there, but that just means that I’m on my job.
That’s why with “It’s Me, Bitches,” I came with the craziest sounds I could find. People think I got those sounds from a video game. I did some shit on the beat and still made it sound like an anthem. It’s going to take them some time to get those sounds down pat so I’m not even worried about that.
How do you manage to stay humble and motivated with 96 million records sold?
I work like I have nothing. Music is my love. The day it’s not my love is the day that I will bow out gracefully.
Do you have a record that you’ve been a part of that you’re most proud of?
“Stop, Drop” I look at all the time. “Stop, Drop” took me to the rock world. It took me to the street world and it took me to the crossover world. That was my first big experience of having a record out there and that was the first time people were looking at me like a musical genius. I kept following up on that.
Do you still have the fire truck you used to have?
No. I had to get rid of it. The city was giving me too many problems so I had to get rid of it. The street team was running around in it. If I had it right now, it would be crazy.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming producers?
Just understand, point blank period, that this is the music business, not the music industry. A lot of people skip over the “business” part and that’s what tears everyone apart. The game is not designed for artists to win. They give you all this money and it looks like it’s cool for the business, but it’s not for the business. It’s for the exploitation. You have to buckle down and understand and learn how this is a business and respect it as a business.
What do you want to say to everybody?
It’s me, bitches. Nah, just whatever you’re doing out there, stay focused, stay hungry and stay humble. Don’t let anybody take you away from whatever your goals are, even if they’re not music endeavors. Be real to yourself, know your worth and stay focused.