Sometimes above the music, the Ruff Ryders are to thank for a style. In the wee hours of a school night, young children of the hood tear through West Philadelphia on one wheel. No lights, no supervision, no curfew. While neighborhood watch might be up in arms, Wah Dean would be proud.
As the mastermind behind the “Double-R” movement, Wah has perhaps created a loyal cult following that his rivals lack. However, since the late 90’s, the Ruff Ryders have failed to break new artists into Hip-Hop. With the light on Jin’s shoulders, The Rest is History said hello and goodbye at once. But with blood-line family member Swizz Beats proving his new worth, will the Ruff Ryders follow suit?
AllHipHop.com loves a hood wheelie like we love a roaring posse cut. Join us as we discuss business with Wah, breaking in with Kartoon, and beef with Styles P. The Ruff Ryders have been split up by the media, attacked by the critics, and written off by the radio. Dare I say, remember how The Warriors ended? Enough semantics, peep game.
AllHipHop.com: The fourth Ruff Ryders compilation is titled Redemption. A few weeks ago, Master P told us about his revenge on the industry. With this title, is that your attitude too?
Wah Dean: We doing the rebirth of our label. With any success going high, you’ve got to get low. We felt that – coming down. It put a lot of things in the right perspective as far as cleaning house, and actually getting the right people in the right space, starting fresh. We got a second or third chance to redeem ourselves with new artists, a new movement. We still got deals with Def Jam, Interscope, J Records, Virgin. Right now, we still looking to cater to those needs, but cater to our own independent needs too.
AllHipHop.com: You said “cleaning house.” With her absence on the record, people may think that means Eve. Is that what you meant, or something more internal?
Wah Dean: You gotta understand – we got Eve from Aftermath when they was having hard times. Eve was there with them, and we relieved that situation. We doing our thing. Eve is doing her thing, the movies and all. She been out on the West so much doing the movies, and mingling with Dre and all them, they wanted to see if they could cultivate a situation. Eve wasn’t putting out the music. If you ain’t putting out the music, we need to make other arrangements. Everything made sense. We still there. I override everything that’s through us. We did what we did with Eve, and blew her to that level where the world knew we was behind her. We embrace Eve with whatever she do. She’s not part of the “clean up.”
AllHipHop.com: Traditionally, compilations don’t hang around too often. I think Ruff Ryders compilations are historical, going to joints like, “Jigga, My N***a” or “WW III.” There’s a lot of tradition to uphold…
Wah Dean: We just blessed to have compilations be a launching point for new blood, new projects. We built a movement in the culture. We being praised who understand who we are. We got a movement behind us that’s gonna support us. We sold a minimum of 500,000 each compilation. So, we good with it. We just wanna pull it off independently.
AllHipHop.com: That being said– you guys being the LOX – have really taken a hold of the group these days. Would that be right to say?
Styles P: I mean we just all hold it down. I would say just us. I would say everybody. You know, yeah, we the big dogs around, man, but everybody holding it down. Everybody just plays their part.
AllHipHop.com: As you’re fighting to get the label name on top, how difficult is it to get your break-through artist, DMX back, with all his recent troubles?
Wah Dean: X’s situation right now… we have a space now. The hype is gone and reality has set in. Everybody is humble enough to come to the table and actually work together as one. That’s what we working with now, working together. X is gonna movin’ with us a lot. We gotta get him surrounded by the right people – that’s family.
AllHipHop.com: Styles, have you, Sheek, and Jadakiss felt any type of pressure to keep the Ruff Ryders name alive?
Styles P: We always going to keep it alive ‘cause we on it! We gonna hold down the label. It’s a 50/50 thing, you understand? We go back, man! We’re just keeping it street how street people do. We keeping it real with people. Make sure you go out with who you came with. It’s like when you go somewhere. When you all go in the club, make sure you leave out with who you went in with. That’s point blank. That’s how that s**t go.
AllHipHop.com: How do you guys differentiate between Ruff Ryders and D-Block? Some people think it’s almost like the same thing.
Styles P: Well, Ruff Ryders we work for and that’s the foundation that we came from and how we learned the game. D-Block is us learning the game from that foundation and advancing on our own, you know what I’m saying?
AllHipHop.com: Hip-Hop is caught up in beef right now. Tony Yayo particularly has been going after D-Block ruthlessly. That’s an organization of itself, he never said Ruff Ryders. But as somebody who still remains with The Lox, do you take offense to such talk, or isolate it?
Wah Dean: It definitely concerns me. My family is being talked upon by cats who never sold one record in they life. The thing that kills me is that those people know who we are and what we represent. 90% of all these artists that wanna be hardcore and street savvy, come see me or my brother first. We decide if we wanna ride with them, or we don’t. If not, they go somewhere else and much love to them. They know who we are. They even say it in they songs. They know who represents the real, who can walk the streets without security, without police, and actually have a ghetto pass in every hood and be good. For them to come at my family, we take it personal. We know it’s really Rap. It’s beefin’ on wax. I been with The Lox for fifteen years. Yayo was in jail with all my Ruff Ryders. He knows the real deal. I got pictures with him and his boys – they know. The beef record sales program, we ain’t buyin’ into it. Good luck to them cats man. The same cats who cats can’t even go into they own neighborhood they grew up in, and be welcomed. That’s not good. All the money in the world can’t bring you respect.
AllHipHop.com: Kartoon, now keep it real with me. The song, “Keep the Guns Cocked (If it’s Beef…)” is produced by Green Lantern. It’s structured like you all are going at G-Unit, but nothing concrete is said. What’s going on… you playing with your audience, or are you playing with beef?
Kartoon: That track was laid prior to any shot being fired from anyone. That track wasn’t made with anybody in mind. To us, it was backyard work. We got a million of them tracks in the computer – that’s what we do in the lab. What happened was, the timing was a “take a shot” situation. I’m not mad at that. I know that controversy sells. I feel like, if you get offended by it anything that’s said, maybe you insecure.
AllHipHop.com: Regardless of it’s recording, it’s a Green Lantern remix. I can tell you fighting a smile too. This is suspect, man.
Kartoon: At the end of the day, it is what it is. You can throw 100 stones, and if nobody says “ouch,” it’s okay. The minute somebody gets hit, they think you purposely hit them. They don’t know you threw 100 stones. I like the controversy.
Styles P: Oh, it’s always good. You know what the drama brings. Drama brings more media, so f**k it. It is what it is!
AllHipHop.com: So you’re just gonna go ahead and use that to your benefit?
Styles P: Yeah, why not? You know what I’m saying? They started [the G-Unit/Lox beef], we might as well finish it.
AllHipHop.com: Swizz has updated his sound, and it’s working like no other. I see you are updating yours. Drag-on is doing a Crunk record, you messing with Reggaetone and N.O.R.E. here too…
Wah Dean: Our sound and [Swizz’s] sound is all the same sound. See, we may have different situations going on, but it’s the same situation. We all work together. We, as Ruff Ryders, we embrace a new movement such as Reggaetone thing. We touchin’ a little bit of everything. We rebirthing Drag-on with his new style. We [still] got X and The Lox and all them. We got Kartoon from the West Coast. We spreading out, touching everywhere.
AllHipHop.com: Kartoon, you’re West Coast bred?
Kartoon: Yes sir! I’m from South Central, Los Angeles. That being said, I never left California til’ the business started poppin’ off. I’m on a rags to riches story.
AllHipHop.com: Styles, did the current Ruff Ryders have a lot of say in bringing them in?
Styles P: Nah, but we had some input on whether we liked it or not. They young boys who was good enough to make it on the camp, so they just gonna bring new flavor and add flavor.
AllHipHop.com: Now, your big song on the compilation is “Blood in the Streets.” Given your name spelling and that, I’m led to assume you’re pumping gang gas here…
Kartoon: No, no, no. Here’s the truth. I never really like to mix [gangs and music]. I’m a grown and intelligent man. I don’t think it’s wise to mix the two. We tryin’ to escape that part of your life.
AlllHipHop.com: The Ruff Ryders always brought a new artist or two out on the compilations. The only success ever, was Eve. After Jin, after Drag-on, after Young Wun, are you scared?
Kartoon: Okay, I see what you saying… as a grown man, you can’t expect anything from another man. What I learned was, it’s important to push just as hard as anybody else – if not, harder. You gotta work with the label. It’s a never-ending grind. You can’t sit back and appreciate. No comfortability here.