Swizz Beatz and Universal Music Group hosted a listening party for DMX’s first posthumous album, Exodus, via Zoom on Thursday evening (May 13). With both excitement and sorrow, Swizz Beatz sailed through the 13-track project with the enthusiasm of a proud parent sending their child off to kindergarten.
Although DMX revealed some of the guest features prior to his April 9 death, including Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, U2’s Bono, Alicia Keys, Griselda, Usher and the late Pop Smoke, there were some unexpected surprises. Most notably, JAY-Z and Nas are reunited for the second time this month, following their appearance on DJ Khaled’s “Sorry Not Sorry” track. Nas also pops up again later on the project as well as Moneybagg Yo.
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Throughout the over hour-long event, Swizz Beatz couldn’t stop himself from dancing and rapping along to every song. Even behind his round sunglasses, Swizz’s sadness was felt as he talked about his longtime friend and collaborator. Perhaps the most illuminating part of the evening was Swizz’s words at the beginning, when he noted X’s death was a huge shock considering he appeared to be in a healthy mental state.
“This project meant a lot to him,” Swizz shared with HipHopDX and the other roughly 200 people on the Zoom call. “It was something he showed up to do and couldn’t wait for people to hear. It was a project he wanted the world to hear. We didn’t want to wait too long because he didn’t want to wait too long. The album’s name is Exodus, which he has across his neck and is on the album cover. It’s also his youngest son’s name.
“He was just in a good vibe. He was just in a good energy. I can’t lie. When he left us, I was pretty shocked because he was just ready to go to the next level. We started the album cycle and then we was going to start the physical fitness side of it. We was about to go to the gym. We was about to be on a different type of the schedule for the whole month and he was in a good space. All of a sudden, that news happened and it just changed all the plans.”
Ultimately, Swizz Beatz has accepted the fact DMX is at peace and no longer wrestling his demons.
“Our brother’s in a better space now,” he continued. “My brother be going through a lot since we’ve known him. And he gave everybody everything. When he gave himself, he left the world with a lot. I watched him give everybody everything. I watched him give his money away. I watched him give his clothes away. I watched him pray for thousands of people when he needed the prayers the most. It’s going to be my job and our job to keep his legacy alive. There’s only one DMX.
“I know there’s a lot of artists who can rap and do these different things but on a human level, I’ve never seen nobody like the Dog. That’s why the word prophet keeps coming up when you mentioning his name. He always knew what his mission was and a lot of us, we need to understand what our mission is. We can only dream to be as clear as he was about his mission. Since you first heard him, he always knew what his mission was. He always put everything on the front line of what he was dealing with.
He added, “He ain’t fake or played around or hiding. He’s the only one I’d seen telling y’all the truth. Not that other people aren’t telling you the truth, but I’m telling you like uncut truth all day. That’s why I’d hate when he’d do interviews because I already know, if you ask him a question, he’s gonna give you an uncut answer. He’s not thinking political, he’s not caring about losing fans, he’s not caring about getting banned. He’s gonna say what it is and that’s why Dog is Dog.”
As Swizz Beatz pressed play, DMX’s signature growl and “Ruff Ryders” tagline immediately set the tone. Without revealing too much, there’s multiple bangers and some softer moments too when X is his most vulnerable, something that always made him relatable to his millions of fans.
Toward the end of the event, Swizz Beatz revealed Pop Smoke didn’t make the final cut after all. He also noted Lil Durk and Lil Baby pushed back the release of their joint album Voice of the Heroes out of respect for DMX.
Exodus, which Swizz Beatz said is “99.9 percent” done, is expected to arrive on Friday (May 28) but no singles will be released prior to its arrival. DMX fans will just have to wait, but DX can attest it will be more than worth it.