Soundtrack Of My Life: Swizz Beatz

Grammy-winning super producer, hip-hop royalty

The first song I remember hearing

Quincy Jones (feat. Al B. Sure, James Ingram, El DeBarge & Barry White) – ‘The Secret Garden’

“My mother would play it around the house a lot when I was growing up, especially when she was cleaning. I remember when it first came out it was just on repeat all day. It’s such a beautiful song. I’m a big fan of Quincy, and he knows this very well.”

The first song I fell in love with

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Ultramagnetic MC’s – ‘Ego Trippin’’

“This was actually the first cassette I ever got. I got it in this boom box for my birthday and I used to play it until the batteries died. Then I’d get more batteries and keep playing it again until those batteries died. Man, what an incredible record.”

The first album I bought

Group Home – ‘Livin’ Proof’

“Because I was a DJ, I wasn’t really buying a lot of albums early on. I was buying 12-inch [singles] more than anything else. But I do remember getting this album because DJ Premier used to do these little loops in between the segments, and that’s the reason I wanted it, so I could snatch those loops up and create instrumentals for the beginning of my mixtapes. That was my early strategy.”

The first gig I went to

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Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Daz & Lady Of Rage at Trafalgar Square, New York, 1994

“I think it might have been Snoop’s first ever show in New York. I was there with DMX who was performing too – and me and Snoop joke about that show a lot because I snuck in his dressing room and stole some weed out of his pocket. I don’t even smoke weed but I was like, ‘yo! I got Snoop’s weed’, and I bagged it. It was in an envelope for years. I have no idea where it is now.”

The song that reminds me of home

Boogie Down Productions – ‘South Bronx’

“You know how your last name represents who you are? When KRS-One said: ‘The South Bronx/ The South, South Bronx’, that’s when I felt like I officially got my last name. I was like, ‘This is my last name. The South Bronx.’ Everybody in the hood felt the same way. That anthem represented all of us.”

The song I do at karaoke

Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock – ‘It Takes Two’

“There’s a viral video of me dancing to this on a plane with my wife. It’s fun. It’s festive. The beat is something you just have to dance to. You can act silly to it. It’s the excuse to go fucking crazy. Hip-hop used to be festive like that. It’s not really festive like that anymore. In fact, it’s making me think that maybe I should bring back some festivities to it.”

The song that makes me want to dance

Diana Ross – ‘I’m Coming Out’

“The music direction on this record is so theatrical. It makes you feel like you wanna hold your arms out. ‘There’s a new me coming out/ And I just had to live’. She was just bold in her statement, and when you listen to it you feel that same way. That’s the beauty of music and what it can do to you.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Etab – ‘Jani El Asmar’

“I listen to so much music from around the world that my musical palate is not strictly made up of just hip-hop. I barely even listen to hip-hop nowadays. When you listen to this song, you’ll quickly understand why I can’t get it out of my head. It has these flutes and these horns and it’s just mesmerising in the way it moves. She’s singing this chant and it just feels so good.”

The song I can no longer listen to

DMX – ‘Ruff Ryders’ Anthem’

“It’s been really hard to play this record since DMX passed. It’s the song that started both of our lives musically – at a real level. We had so many great moments with this song and so whenever I hear it now it makes me reflect a little too hard. I thought I was ready to start listening to it again but I wasn’t. The times I have heard it I’ve been like: ‘Oooh, I can’t play this yet.’ But I can play all of the other songs for some reason, just not this one. If someone plays it out or I hear it on the radio it just gets me. I’m not there yet.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘Jamming’

“I want my funeral to be a celebration. I don’t want all that crying and shit. I want it to be a celebration of me going to the next chapter of greatness. This song is the perfect soundtrack for that.”

Swizz Beatz’ ‘Long Live Jazz’ limited edition vinyl is out February 25 and is available to pre-order now at 12on12.com

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