Hysteria pervaded Brooklyn's Barclays Center Friday night (April 21) because one of hip-hop's most prolific labels, The Ruff Ryders, reunited for their colossal concert. As a sea of fans thronged the venue, Ruff Ryders jerseys were ubiquitously found in every direction. Bandanas, T-shirts, sweatpants and more were spotted on rabid fans hungry to see the crew reunite.
Established in 1997, the venerable label birthed iconic rap stars including DMX, The LOX, Eve, Swizz Beatz and Drag-On. During their tenure with Ruff Ryders, each act proved to be a formidable force on their own accord by netting successful albums. In 1999, the label logged three No. 1s on the chart: Eve's debut Let There Be Eve... Ruff Ryders' First Lady, X's Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood and the label compilation Ryde or Die Vol. 1, while X's ...And Then There Was X, released in December 1999, would hit the top of the chart in early 2000. That same year, The LOX crafted their group endeavor We Are the Streets. Jadakiss, Styles P, and Sheek Louch all went on to release solo projects, as well. As for Swizz Beatz, he morphed into a mega-producer in hip-hop because of his contributions to the Ruff Ryders imprint.
The night's closer, DMX -- who notched five No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 in his career -- had fans salivating at the thought that vintage X would conquer Barclays. With several ups and downs at the venue, fans saw all of the rap heroes in action Friday night. Take a look at some of the highlights below.
Fat Joe & Remy Ma Turn Barclays 'All the Way Up' With Surprise Performance
During Swizz Beatz's energetic set, he tapped on Bronx natives Fat Joe and Remy Ma to rock the stage. The duo created tremors all through Barclays when they dived into their magnum opus "Lean Back." High off the crowd's elation, they proceeded to demolish the stage with a hard-hitting performance of "All the Way Up." Later, Remy unearthed her 2006 gem "Whuteva" with the prodigious producer.
French Montana Gives Fans an 'Unforgettable' Experience
After French Montana provided his assistance to Fat Joe and Remy Ma on "All the Way Up", he reached into his bag of bangers and unleashed his dance-heavy single "Unforgettable," sans Swae Lee. Aside from "Unforgettable," Montana cranked up the energy level with a string of records, most notably "Ain't Worried About Nothin," "Pop That," and his verse from Bobby Shmurda's "Hot Boy (Remix)."
Eve's Status as First Lady of Ruff Ryders Remains Unblemished
Undoubtedly the highlight of the night came from Eve. The multi-faceted star seamlessly turned back the hands of time and gifted the audience with a strong performance. With her hands on the wheel, Eve drove the crowd into the land of nostalgia by performing "Love Is Blind," "Blow Your Mind," "Satisfaction," "Who's That Girl" and her verse from Missy Elliot's "Hot Boyz (Remix)."
The LOX Keep the Memory of The Notorious B.I.G. Alive
Fresh off their Filthy America...It's Beautiful Tour, The LOX's momentum carried over to their set. "It feels good to be home," Sheek exclaimed to the sold-out crowd.The trio performed "Last Day," "Wild Out," and also individual cuts, including Styles P's "I Get High," Sheek Louch's "Kiss Your Ass Goodbye," and Jadakiss' "Why." During their hard-nosed performance, they paid homage to The Notorious B.I.G. when they brought out Junior Mafia's Lil Cease to perform "Get Money" and his verse from Lil Kim's "Crush on You." After jumping into "All About the Benjamins," The LOX also brought out Brooklyn's Uncle Murda to perform "Cam'ron Voice" and M.O.P for "Ante Up."
Swizz Beatz Runs Through His Classic Hits
Aside from being an indomitable producer, Swizz Beatz has excelled in the past as a showman on stage. During his hour-long set, he fed fans a spoonful of classics from his resume. Not only did he perform his personal hits, including "Money in the Bank," and "It's Me B------s," he ran through his endless catalog on the production front. Swizz swept through the choruses for Drake's "Fancy," T.I.'s "Louie Rag" and Jay Z's "On to the Next."
Cassidy Sends Shots at Lil Yachty & Lil Uzi Vert
During Swizz Beatz's set, Cassidy came out and performed "Drink & My Two Step," "Hotel," & "I'm a Hustla." The Philly MC also spewed a scathing freestyle targeting Lil Yachty & Lil Uzi Vert. "Who the best MCs, me, J. Cole or Kendrick?/I miss the days when Jay took over the business/I witnessed Hova change the world Ima Jehovah's Witness/I never chose to listen to Yachty and Lil Uzi/Let's take it back to Jeezy, Weezy and Boosie/I might listen to Tip, Ross, and a little Gucci/But these little newbies be making me feel a little woozy," he rapped.
Swizz Beatz Updates Fans on DMX's New Album & Demands a Beat Battle Between Timbaland & Pharrell
In a brief interview with Billboard, Swizz Beatz updated fans on DMX's upcoming album. "Epic," Swizz said regarding X's forthcoming project. "That's the dog. He's the only artist that's of his kind. You know, he's the only artist that hasn't changed since he came out. You ain't never seen X in a Benz, a Lamborgini or a Ferrari. You've always seen him with his simple dog chain on. He's a dog. That's him."
Swizz also urged both Pharrell and Timbaland to compete in a beat battle competition similar to his matchup with Just Blaze. "They both better come on and do this shit," he said. "Pharrell, Timbaland, let's get the battle started. Let's go."
DMX Struggles Mightily
At 11:30, DMX stormed the stage donning his black Ruff Ryders jersey. Sporting the number 88, he showered the crowd with a laundry basket worth of classics. Though X steamrolled his way through his most notable records, including "How It's Goin' Down,""Party Up," "Ruff Ryders Anthem," and "What These B------s Want," he had several lapses. His exuberance was overbearing. His penchant for speeches proved to be a glaring misfire. On a few occasions, he ranted endlessly and lost momentum right before jumping into another record. "They can kick rocks," X shouted after being told he would have to cut his set. His signature snarls and barks were more obnoxious than admirable. To make matters worse, X randomly sang Phil Collins "In the Night," to the crowd's dismay. "Don't expect me to be a role model!" he yelled.