Retro Review: Ryde or Die Vol 1

Retro Review: Ryde or Die Vol 1

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Ryde or Die vol 1, by Ruff Ryders

I’m gonna be honest here. I grew up on the East Coast, but I wasn’t really exposed to a lot of New York rap until after I moved to the south. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, except that I’m from Pharrell and Timbaland‘s hometown. Not exactly the same kind of East Coast rap, haha. Needless to say, when I was introduced to DMX and the Ruff Ryders, I was hooked. That type of energy was not something I had expected. When Ryde or Die vol 1 dropped, I was not disappointed. Granted, the rest of the group didn’t have the same sound as DMX, but they fit WITH him so well. Dee and Wah put together a supergroup, no question.

  • Lyrics
  • Instrumentation
  • Production
  • Features
  • Longevity
  • Impact
  • Personal Preference
User Review
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 As expected from an East Coast group of superstars, the lyrics are all on point in this compilation. As much as I hate to say it, the frontman for the group, DMX, came with the weakest lyrics. But, as always, DMX more than made up for that MINOR difference with his delivery. I still don’t know why Drag-On wasn’t more successful than he was. Jadakiss, Styles P, Eve, Sheek Louch… I don’t even need to say anything.
 The majority of this album has beats made by Swizz Beatz. Some of them were hot. Some were…not. His simplistic approach to instrumentals makes it too easy to be hit or miss. “I’m a Ruff Ryder” comes from Dave Hall with vocals from Parle, and…holy shit that’s a good song. Smooth R&B shit. Make a baby to that. “Dope Money” from P. Killer matched The LOX perfectly, even if it wasn’t a complex arrangement.
 No complaints about the mixing and sound on this album. Some of the grimier/crunchier drum samples used mixed with the grimy vocals fit the album perfectly. I can’t imagine it how hard it would be to mix someone with an energy like Mystikal, or DMX in this case, but major props to the engineers on this album.
 Since it’s a Ruff Ryders compilation, I’ll only count the contributors who weren’t in the group as features. Juvenile made a solid appearance on “Down Bottom.”  Jay-Z‘s entry is probably one of my favorite songs of his, and also catchy as fuck. I won’t even lie, I forgot Mysonne was around back then, but in retrospect, he was just as good then as he is now. Big Pun came with a good couple of verses on “Pina Colada” as well (the first being better than the second). I’d have to say the weakest links on the features both came on the same song. Jermaine Dupri and Ma$e on “Platinum Plus” both came kinda lackluster.
 As much as I wish I could say this is regarded as one of the best group albums of all time, it just isn’t so. I think part of the reasoning has to do with the other albums they were competing with that year for air time. I can go back and listen to it and still be impressed, but even though I hate the truth, marketing can affect an album’s reception, years into the future.
 This album did manage to hit #1 on the Billboard for a week, but I couldn’t find anything that told the number of sales it had. The chart top isn’t too surprising, considering the lock that Ruff Ryders had, collectively, in 1999. That considered, the artists already had their own styles, and any impact they had on the rap game, they would’ve had individually.
Personal Preference
 Personally, I love this compilation album. I think this is how a group of artists SHOULD approach mass group projects. While it wasn’t as cohesive an album as their second venture, Ryde or Die vol 2, it’s still a classic in my book. If they could’ve put this thing together without “Platinum Plus,” it would’ve been approaching legendary status to me.

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