DAR Hip Hop: The Greatest Ruff Ryders Artists

By @TrueGodImmortal

The Double R was a great brand for hip hop during the late 90's and early 2000s. The Ruff Ryders movement made a lot of noise and sold a number of records while keeping their street credibility well in tact. Today, I wanted to look back at the artists who were signed to the label and rank them in terms of importance and success on the label. Who are in the top 5 and where do they all rank? Let's take a look.

8. Jin

-So, while I would have rather put Sheek or Yung Wun on the list, it is apparent that neither man was an official solo artist on Ruff Ryders, thus they cannot be featured. However, Jin, repeat winner of the 106 and Park Freestyle Friday competition would end up as an artist on the label through Virgin Records and he would release an album through Ruff Ryders, which earned him a spot on this list. His album, The Rest Is History, was not a success, but he definitely managed to release a project that at least made some minor headlines and noise. I will say however that Jin had the privilege of working with a number of excellent producers on his album like Kanye West, Bink, Just Blaze, Mr. Porter, and more courtesy of his Ruff Ryders affiliation.

7. Drag-On

-So, when I think of the legacy that Drag-On leaves behind as an artist, there isn't too much to speak about. He was never the best MC or even that good of a lyricist, but the reality is, he was definitely pivotal and important to the movement. Seen by many as DMX's sidekick, Drag would have a few moments of his own for the label, most notably in his guest appearances on albums and his biggest moment on "Down Bottom" with Juvenile and Swizz Beatz, which is a classic. His album Opposite Of H20 was far from a classic, but did make some noise and manage to go gold, solidifying Drag as an essential piece to the movement. His second album Hell And Back came and went but still was a decent release that showcased that Drag was able to still make solid music. Drag was in some ways the heart and soul of Ruff Ryders.

6. Cassidy

-This is by design honestly. Cass started out as a Ruff Ryder and became the first real artist on Swizz Beatz's label, which would make him Full Surface more so than Ruff Ryders. However, during the early 2000s, all we knew about was that Swizz had an artist that he was fond of who would end up becoming a top punchline rhymer during the era and is responsible for one of the most infamous freestyle battles against Freeway. His actual record deal was through J Records and Ruff Ryders with Full Surface, and his first album Split Personality would end up going gold and spawning some hits. Cassidy would also make appearances on two of the Ruff Ryders compilations, starting with Vol. 3 in 2001 and again on Vol. 4 in 2005. Cassidy was a top rhyme spitter for the most part and he was a popular artist in hip hop for a few years.

5. Styles P

-I think Styles is an excellent solo artist and if I had to rank him honestly, he would be higher than Jada because he makes much better projects. However, when it came to the Double R, it always felt Jada repped a little harder for it than Styles, who somehow always gave off a loner style vibe with his music. However, in his solo endeavors, Styles shined brighter as an artist than anyone on the label not named DMX. His debut solo A Gangster And A Gentleman was actually an excellent release and one of the best albums to come from the label. He was the lifeblood of Ruff Ryders during their down period, which is why he sits firmly in the top 5, though I personally couldn't put him above Eve or Jadakiss. His second album Time Is Money and his third independent release Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman) did well enough to garner some attention, but Styles never packed the commercial pumch that Eve, X, or Jada managed to have, which is why he couldn't be ranked higher.

4. The LOX

-So, it is tough to put this group ahead of Styles as a solo artist, but considering what The LOX went through to get on Ruff Ryders, they are definitely top 5 and they're not 5. They only have one official Ruff Ryders release under their belt and Jada would go on to be slightly more successful himself, but as a collective, The LOX were a pivotal force in pushing the Double R to the next level. It was simple. Eve handled the ladies' side of things, DMX would get everyone and tackle the mainstream, while The LOX had the streets. It was fitting that their sole release on the label would be titled We Are The Streets and the album was actually very solid. It is the best work that the trio have released together. That along with the loyalty they showed to the brand over the years is what earns The LOX a spot on the list.

3. Eve

-The first lady of the Double R has to be top 5 on the label and while she wasn't a better rapper than Cassidy and didn't make a better album than Styles and Jada, Eve was right there in the middle of the Ruff Ryders run carrying the commercial load when DMX wasn't running everything. Eve had three straight albums that seemed to be hits, but of course, none were bigger than her debut, which came at a time when the Double R were at their peak. Her debut would spawn hits and go double platinum, while her second album Scorpion would go platinum and spawn a mega hit. Her third album wasn't as big, but still went gold and almost cleared platinum. Add in her movie career and just her all around visibility and Eve could very well be no. 2 just under the obvious choice for no. 1.

2. Jadakiss

-I had a tough moment deciding between the 2nd through 5th spot honestly. While any of those choices could have been the second pick, Jada stands out more to me for his consistency. As an album maker, Jada is nothing special. As a MC, he was top tier for a while. While I loved his guest appearances and feature verses, the test was seeing if Jada could manage an entire album. I actually like his debut album Kiss Tha Game Goodbye, it just has far too many songs on it. If trimmed down, it would be a really good album. The same cannot be said for his second project Kiss Of Death, at least in my opinion. His last work under the Ruff Ryders umbrella was the 2009 project The Last Kiss, which was released under not only Ruff Ryders, but Roc-A-Fella, D-Block, and Def Jam. Simply put, Jada was a force for the Double R through his prime and because of that, the Double R name never fully lost steam even during the periods where the other artists weren't working as hard.

1. DMX

-So, this was obvious. I mean, Swizz isn't an actual artist, no matter how hard he tries. He is a producer. There weren't many choices for the label in general, but when it gets to the number one spot for this movement, it is simple. DMX is why Ruff Ryders exist. Sure, Waah and Dean and Swizz are pivotal pieces in the background or on the boards, but DMX took the game by storm and made the Double R relevant. X is an underrated legend in a way because people seem to forget he released five straight no. 1 albums that are all multi platinum. His debut album is a classic, his sophomore album is a near classic, his third album did massive numbers, his fourth album nearly went triple platinum, and his fifth album was nearly double platinum. There aren't too many artists in the history of rap who could pull this off let alone on the Double R label. X is easily no. 1 for Ruff Ryders.



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