Swizz Beatz is a good producer. A really good producer, in fact. The 38-year-old Bronx native helped soundtrack the Ruff Ryders’ incredibly successful run in the late ’90s and early ’00s while producing hits for the likes of Jay Z, Beyoncé, and Busta Rhymes. His scratch-heavy keyboard beats were ahead of their time and he’s remained both a creative and commercial force ever since. I mean, the first beat this man sold was to DMX for “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.” At 19-years-old.
However, a good rapper Swizz Beatz is not. Over his almost 20-year career as a professional musician, he’s released one compilation album, one studio album as a solo artist, and has yelped and yacked over a countless number of his client’s songs. He has an entire arsenal of ad-libs—right!, come on!, showtime!—that he throws at the wall, but none of them ever seem to stick. A good emcee needs a good voice, and Swizz Beatz just doesn’t have one. We’re sorry, dude.
With that said, here’s a brief history of Swizz Beatz ruining songs.
DMX — “We In Here” ft. Swizz Beatz (2006)
Let me preface this by saying, “We In Here” is probably the worst song on this list. By 2006, DMX was no longer the pedigree of dog that he once was. But it didn’t help that Swizz Beatz fed him a half-baked hook that’s even more repetitive than “Get It On The Floor.” Saying “it’s time to bring the East Coast back, baby” at the start of this song was a touch ambitious.
Busta Rhymes — “New York Shit” ft. Swizz Beatz (2006)
Let me preface this by saying, “New York Shit” is probably the best song on this list, but that’s all due to Busta Rhymes and this divine DJ Scratch beat. “Hat to my back,” “Timbs with the shorts,” “riding on the train”; it sounds like Swizz Beatz was playing I Spy in Times Square when he wrote these rhymes. For such a timeless anthem dedicated to the birthplace of hip-hop, surely Buss could have called up someone else. Like, maybe, Rakim? Or Q-Tip? Shit, even Spliff Star. Anyone but Swizz!
Swizz Beatz — “It’s Me Bitches (Remix)” ft. Lil Wayne, R. Kelly & Jadakiss (2007)
The best part about this remix: Lil Wayne, R. Kelly, and Jadakiss all killed it (‘Kiss comes in at the very end rapping over Wu-Tang’s “C.R.E.A.M.”). The worst part about this remix: Swizz Beatz is still on it. Not only does he ad-lib his way through his guests’ parts, he drops his own verse that has lines like, “She smokin’ on Cohiba, on my sun seeker/For those of you who don’t know that’s just a yacht with a deck.” I wish it wasn’t you, Swizz.
Maino — “Hi Hater (Remix)” ft. Swizz Beatz, T.I., Plies & Jadakiss (2008)
“Hi Hater” was the introduction of Maino, the latest drug dealer-turned-rapper set to take over New York. And because it was 2008, “Hi Hater” obviously got a remix featuring a muddled lineup of rappers from all over the country. The video was inspired by Craig Mack’s classic “Flava In Ya Ear” remix, but with Swizzy “huh huh hey hater”-ing all over the song in the first 10 seconds, this was more like lava in ya ear.
Kanye West — “Power (Remix)” ft. JAY-Z & Swizz Beatz (2010)
The “Power” remix kicked off Kanye West’s iconic G.O.O.D. Fridays series, which built up even more excitement for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, if that was even possible. I’m so glad this didn’t make the album, though. Don’t get me wrong; Jay Z flamed it, Kanye rapped in Arabic and the revamped production was even more euphoric. But then Swizz Beatz shows up all like, “showtime! Ayo Yeezy man, take that jacket off and go crazy on these n*ggas,” and suddenly the beat changes to SNAP!’s “I’ve Got the Power” and, yeah, I usually hit skip at this point.
Kanye West — “Lord, Lord, Lord” ft. Mos Def, Swizz Beatz, Raekwon & Charlie Wilson (2010)
“Power” wasn’t the only G.O.O.D. Fridays gift Swizz Beatz ruined. A month later, he popped up on “Lord, Lord, Lord,” which brought together Kanye West, Mos Def, Raekwon and Charlie Wilson over an absolutely lush Brian Bennett sample. It was so perfect you’d think the Lord himself had commanded it, except for the fact that no loving God would give Swizz Beatz his own verse on a joint this smooth. I don't know, maybe I’m just salty about that “blogger” line.
Travis Barker — “Can a Drummer Get Some (Remix)” ft. The Game, Lil Wayne, Swizz Beatz & Rick Ross (2011)
It was obvious Travis Barker’s Give the Drummer Some was the rap-rock album he always wanted to make. It featured everyone from RZA and Raekwon to Beanie Sigel and Bun B. The lineup for the lead single, “Can a Drummer Get Some,” was especially impressive. But while The Game, Lil Wayne, and Rick Ross all came with aggressive verses to compete with Travis’ drums, Swizz Beatz wasn’t persuading anyone to give the drummer some with that weak hook. Say it like you mean it, Swizz.
Swizz Beatz — “Street Knock” ft. A$AP Rocky (2012)
Swizz Beatz and A$AP Rocky sounded like a good match-up on paper: the veteran hitmaker teaming up with the city’s hottest new rapper. Unfortunately, “Street Knock” was not a knockout in the streets. This was far from Rocky’s shining moment (it sounded like a constant struggle for him to stay on beat), and if you’re trying to make a hit with one of the most popular rappers around, it’s probably not a good idea to make us suffer through 80 seconds of Swizz Beatz rapping to hear his verse.
JAY-Z — “BBC” ft. Nas, Beyoncé, Swizz Beatz, Justin Timberlake, Timbaland & Pharrell (2013)
Jay Z. Nas. Beyoncé. Swizz Beatz. Justin Timberlake. Timbaland. Pharrell. How the hell was this not a hit again?! I’m not saying it’s Swizz Beatz’s fault. For starters, the song is cluttered as hell and you can’t even make out the hook properly. But I’m also not saying Swizz Beatz doesn’t ruin the song by shouting out random ad-libs every three seconds like your little cousin playing with a goddamn soundboard.
Meek Mill — “Classic” ft. Swizz Beatz & Jeremih (2015)
Meek Mill’s Dreams Worth More Than Money gets kind of overlooked these days for, well, reasons. Maybe that’s a good thing, though, because this might be Swizz Beatz’s most painful contribution to date. The beat, co-produced by Bangladesh and DJ Corbett, is fantastic, it jumps out at you and bounces around the room with reckless abandon. Meek Mill raps his ass off and Jeremih’s backing vocals are soothing yet understated, which basically sums up his entire career. But it’s almost impossible to ignore Swizz Beatz in the background, grunting, growling and barking like he’s having a fight with the voice in his head telling him to shut the hell up.
Classic rap song? No. Classic case of Swizz Beatz ruining a song? Yes.