Ruff Ryders, Ryde or Die Vol. II (2000)
“I be reading these magazines and all that…” Swizz Beats tells Funkmaster Flex on “Fuck Da Haters,” a skit from the Ruff Ryders’ new compilation, Ryde or Die Vol. II. Flex already knows what the magazines have to say the about the platinum crew’s rise to the top of the rap heap. “A lot of hate,” he says without missing a beat. “You know what the problem is? The fucking haters don’t understand that once Swizz Beats has the crown, he don’t give it back.” Well, the fucking haters will probably like Ryde or Die Vol. II as much as DMX’s three multi-platinum albums and Eve’s platinum debut Ruff Ryders’ First Lady. These mechanized romps rumble along with nary a care in the world, and a gallery of iced-out MC’s – including guests Snoop Dogg, Scarface, Redman & Method Man, Trick Daddy, and Busta Rhymes – work through familiar braggadocio scenarios. “Niggas that don’t like me get the knife for fronting/’Cause one night, in the club, it’s your life I’m cutting,” Swizz Beats threatens. Musically, the producer – who says on “Fuck Da Haters” that, “I be on the MP (3000) so much that my wrist bleeds” – laces tracks like “Got It All” (Eve and Jadakiss in a radio-friendly battle of the sexes) with the same chalky melodicism that has made him one of rap’s most successful producers. Some of the songs, like “Ryde or Die Boyz,” and “WW II,” have a rugged appeal; others, like “Holiday,” and “2 Tears in a Bucket,” are poorly executed, cringe-inducing efforts. What Ryde or Die Vol. II undoubtedly possesses is transparent melodies laid atop powerful drum machines and keyboard bass notes, and crisp voices that lend the songs a distinct personality. In most cases, it’s the chorus that makes the song memorable – for example, Eve’s stylized take on the lyric “Don’t want your dough, no, don’t want your car/I don’t want your jewels, no, I’ve got it all.” Ryde or Die Vol. II’s creators front as if they’re kickin’ street shit, but it’s pop instincts that keep them in the limelight. Interscope handled distribution.