The Ruff Ryders Reunion show that took place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn last night (April 21) more than likely solidified a Ruff Ryders tour for later this year.
Double-R franchise front runners DMX, Swizz Beatz, Eve, The Lox, and Drag-On all came back together to celebrate 20 years of their dynasty. The legendary label put the R in "return" when they exploded. As in, a return to the streets. Hip-hop's focus shifted towards the pavement. Bandanas, bikes, Timbs, jerseys, and of course, pitbulls.
After Drag-On performed on a major stage for the first time in years, Ruff Ryders' "pitbull in a skirt" Eve came on. A few technical difficulties notwithstanding, E.V.E. shut it down with a handful of hits including "What Y'All Want," "Satisfaction," "Who's That Girl," and "Tambourine." Swizz Beatz won, bringing out a heavily cheered constituency from the Bronx: Fat Joe, Remy Ma, and French Montana. Cassidy also came out with Swizz and took a couple shots at Lil Uzi Vert and Yachty.
Later, the Lox brought out Lil Cease, Fame from M.O.P., and Uncle Murder. Of course, the trio had a plethora of building burners of their own. Then there was X.
DMX came onstage around 11:30 p.m., the curfew when the show was supposed to end. He laughed about that later in the set ("11:30 my ass"). Though X didn't bring out any guest celebrities, he did bring out his ex-wife Tashera and hugged her. He told the audience that by the grace of God, they are best friends despite getting divorced three years ago.
In a time where the crowd is more interested in recording the performance than dancing during it, The Dog is still captivating. Not one rear end in the Barclays was touching a seat when X came on. He started with the macabre mood setting "Tell Me How You Feelin," a classic album cut, then barked one of his last big hit records "We Right Here." Throughout his set, you could see many women going just as hard or even harder than their male counterparts reciting the lyrics as if they were transported back in time to the very moment they heard one his songs for the first time.
"Who We Be" followed after with X sounding as off-key as ever, like your drunk uncle at a family BBQ. "They don't know," he howled much to the delight of the crowd--hey, if you want great vocals, go to an Usher concert--and the audience followed up singing their part of the hook ("who weeee beeeeee") in high-pitched choir boys voices (well, to the best of their ability). Then the Dog spoke.
"By the grace of God, I've been able to travel all over the world. Imagine this, a nigga with 12 felonies could leave the country. I been around the world, f--ked a lot of bitches." But nothing can compare to rocking a stage. Commanding a crowd is, in his words, "better than the best pussy I ever had in my fu--ing life."
He later climbed on a speaker for his most signature cut "Ruff Ryder's Anthem," a record not only accepted as one of the greatest rap records ever, but a song that defined New York City hip-hop culture itself when it came out in 1998.
"New York provides you with a sense of hustle," he said. "A sense of common sense and a sense of 'get the f--k outta here.' New York will give you everything it takes to conquer the world, but you must conquer the world."
While for most artists, talking to the crowd between songs is secondary, it seemed like X felt even more fulfilled expressing his feelings than rapping. You actually had to listen to every word he said because you don't know what's coming out of his mouth next.
"I'm not your f--king role model, I'm not your f--king father," he would later say. He described himself as a man of truth who has made many mistakes but is wise. "I'm not the man you want to be, but who you need to listen to," he added.
But there were more hits. He focused back on the songs and threw a flurry: "Get At Me Dog," "Stop Being Greedy," "Money, Power Respect," and "What Y'All Really Want."
"How did I go wrong, with so much love?" he asked, sounding as if he was even taken aback by the devotion. One fan maybe showed too much devotion. "Sis tried to put her tongue in my mouth," X told the audience after he jumped into the crowd during "Where The Hood At" and a lady tried to kiss him. After "Party Up," The Dog got more serious with words of wisdom.
"You might not know you're special to God, because of the burdens you have to carry," he started before commanding the stage technicians to "turn the house lights off, turn the house light off!" When the lights didn't go off, X chuckled, "Ok, I'll find you later." Finally the lights went low. "If you f--k with the Dog the way I know you f--k with the Dog, there's only one way to end this. In the name of Jesus, let us pray. 'I became strong, I could fight off the Devil with the spoken word. Devil, I rebuke you.'"