HIP-HOP TURNS 50: ‘Ruff Ryders’ Anthem’ Was Released After DMX Lost A Bet

One of DMX’s biggest hits wasn’t one of his favorites and he only recorded it because the New York native lost a bet to producer Swizz Beatz.  

“Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” was one of the first tracks he produced for the late artist. A bet between the two resulted in the song making the album. 

For those listening to hip-hop in the late ’90s, and early 2000s, Swizz Beatz, real name Kasseem Dean, was a household name: he produced many hits for the Ruff Ryders label. His uncles were Joaquin (Waah) and Darrin (Dee) Dean, co-CEOs of the then-fledgling hip-hop label. 

In an interview with SiriusXM’s Hip Hop Nation, the Verzuz founder described the song’s release. 

“I was Atlanta in school, and then, um, they got the project to where it was at, and then I came in last minute with Stop Drop. X lost a bet, or I wouldn’t have even been on the album. But he didn’t lose the bet because that song ended up changing all of our lives. So, he technically won the bet for my Uncle D, and that changed all of our lives. So, it was just enough to do what it needed to do.”

According to American Songwriter, “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” was arguably the best song in DMX’s catalog and one of his highest charting Billboard records. Released off his 1998 debut album, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 while being certified 2x platinum by RIAA (The Recording Industry Association of America).

After achieving much success, including eight studio albums and three mixtapes, he suffered a heart attack on April 2, 2021. He died a week later at the age of 50. More than two years after his death, fans worldwide still celebrate his artistry and the musical legacy he left behind with songs like “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.”