Swizz Beatz has his birthday celebration to thank for his latest hit.
The producer, who cranked out songs for Busta Rhymes ("Touch It") and Beyoncé ("Ring the Alarm") last year, had been working on an album of his own material — One Man Band Man, set for a March 6 release — and hadn't found a single to kick-start the project.
But late last August on his birthday, Swizz found himself in the studio, tipsy and in a good mood, and decided to take a crack at making a beat.
"It was like around 4 or 5 in the morning. I did the beat because I felt like making the beat," he said last week about his latest track, "It's Me Bitches." "When I did it, I was just in my vibe. I was drinking a little bit, celebrating ... and I was just like, 'It's me, bitches.' I was just having fun, then I was like, 'Turn on the mic.' I felt the vibe like when I do songs. I go in there and try to feed off my vibe at that moment, because it comes and it leaves. So I just caught my vibe. And we usually sell the song to somebody else or give that vibe to somebody else, but with this song, I just felt like I needed to keep it for myself because it was so much me."
The unusual composition, which is barely over two minutes long, finds Swizzie repeating the same verse twice over a thumping bass line and blaring horns. It sounds more like a DJ interlude than an actual song. According to Swizz, though, the track is the perfect off-kilter selection to reintroduce himself and present what he's calling his first real solo album.
"Artists like to follow rules — I don't know who wrote them — but I'll be like, 'Yo, that's the hook,' " Swizz said of the unconventional single. "But a rapper or somebody else will probably say, 'Oh, it needs more to it. You can't just say [that] on the hook. What about radio?' I didn't really care about radio. I just cared about making something that felt hot. I didn't make the song extra long. I repeated the verses twice so people could get familiar with it, sing along with it and have fun with it. I'm not trying to be the best lyricist, the most lyrical. But I know I got one thing: making people feel good when they hear music."
In 2002, the Ruff Ryder producer stepped out from behind the boards to release Swizz Beatz Presents G.H.E.T.T.O. Stories, but he said that project was more a compilation of his talents as a rapper and producer than an actual solo project. The album featured the hit "Big Business" and its remix, but it served more as a launching pad for Swizz's artist Cassidy rather than himself (see "Swizz Beatz Says He's Eager To Lay Down Beats With Cassidy").
So for One Man Band Man, Swizz stripped down the collabos and mostly went with his own recordings. A few outside producers will be onboard — only to debunk the assumption that he'd produce the entire project — but the guest list for the album is set at a minimum, save a few unexpected features by artists such as Coldplay.
"It's called 'Part of the Plan,' " Swizz said of the Coldplay collaboration. "[It's] just talking. You know how people give a positive message but they sound so way out of their realm? Like it sounds cool, but I can't picture that. In my song, I'm like, 'Me and brother arguing to see who pick the mouse up/ I walk by the oven to open the door to heat the house up.' Real sh--. Not 'The world can be a beautiful place'-type sh--."
Another dark track on the album, according to Swizz, is "Funeral," in which he narrates different stories of death. Though the topic is morbid, Swizz said the backdrop of the track is lighter than people might expect for a song with such a heavy topic. He called it cinematic.
But Swizz isn't moving away from having fun by any means. Just last week he was in Los Angeles filming the video for "It's Me Bitches" with Benny Boom. He said the clip would be simple but that the videos for his next two singles, "Big Money" and "Take a Picture," would be more innovative. He's leaning toward featuring animation in "Big Money" and hopes to travel to Dubai to film "Take a Picture."
"My thing is for people to free up and just go with what they feel," Swizz said. "At the end of the day, if you sell records or not, do what you feel like doing and you'll be happy that your sh-- was your sh--."