Ruff Ryders, the label that brought hip hop DMX, Eve, and Swizz Beatz, is reuniting onstage at Barclays Center on April 21st. We spoke to the man who started it all Joaquin “Waah” Dean (CEO of Ruff Ryder Entertainment) about the upcoming reunion concert and tour as well as the future of Ruff Ryders.
How is Ruff Ryders Indy particularly unique from Ruff Ryders Entertainment?
Waah: Well Ruff Ryder Entertainment was more based off a major label concept, where you have most of the artists signed under a major. Their concept was more about the major deals, the major budgets, that whole concept although we started Ruff Ryder Entertainment as an independent company. We launched from an independent company into a major situation with Ruff Ryder Entertainment and we became partners with the majors with some of the artists that we had at the table at that time. Ruff Ryder Indy is a independent consulting company. We have more of a profit in that and we’re more independent and we more freely move with doing projects we want to bring to the table. Multiple projects, Ruff Ryder Indy is there to consult up and coming artists, a production company, as well as Ruff Ryder [Indy] is a independent distribution company that will be having our business chapters worldwide, being able to have their own distribution in the community and will be able to cover their artists worldwide.
What do you look for in an artist specifically when signing them to Ruff Ryders Indy compared to Ruff Ryder Entertainment?
Waah: I mean for any artist you want to see that they have the talent, and they got love for what they do as artist. The key is you wanna see how far they are in the movement. Some artists are developed, some artists need development. I think more artists need development on many different levels. But we’re looking for a star. An artist that can pretty much write their own music, produce their own music, have a concept of understanding the business they’re getting into that’s important and they love the art and what they’re doing, and it’s not just something they’re trying to get a check from. It’s about getting money but for you to survive as an artist you gotta love your craft and they have true talent. Some of the artists have to be developed.
If you could name one defining moment in Ruff Ryders history what would that moment be and why?
Waah: Ah man there are so many moments I can’t even remember one. One moment that we had was when we did the Ruff Ryders Cash Money tour . That was a moment that I really remember because outside of selling ten million records in one year and dropping two albums, that was another moment with DMX. The Ruff Ryder Cash Money tour was a moment for me because two brothers came together to do their own tour together without no support from anybody but each other. It was a family tour and I really felt that was a beautiful moment.
Why is now the right time for the reunion concert tour?
Waah: Because the new millennium has really been into their trap music for the last five, six, seven years they’ve had a great beautiful run with their trap music and they’re doing it, doing their thing. The new millennium is really checking out the past they’ve been doing their research on the pioneers of hip hop and they noticed that Ruff Ryders is a street label and they represent the community, they are iconic artists, it’s an iconic brand and they really love what we’re doing in the community because we have never disconnected ourselves from the community and that’s why I think the new millennials love our music because it’s street, it’s hard it represents the struggle in what the youth is going through now so they can relate to us. I think that’s a beautiful thing.
When did you begin planning the reunion tour?
Waah: I started planning on this tour since 2012.
What was most challenging about putting the concert/tour together?
Waah: Well schedules were very very different. Artists we brought up as kids you know as young in the game now have their own businesses , have their own artists, and have their own companies and that’s what we admire. Their schedules and our schedule were kind of off so we really couldn’t bridge the gap so I guess it wasn’t the right time. So now that everybody got their own businesses straight and everything is moving our time is a little bit more available. We’re still working out the schedules. The big thing was about timing and the scheduling.
What do you expect for the future of Ruff Ryders?
Waah: Well so much man going on man. You can expect a clothing line being launched coming through DTLR. We’re gonna be looking forward to Ruff Ryders to the Rescue program, we got the showcase workshop program that we’re gonna be doing for the community. We have over 300, 400 chapters worldwide big brother big sister mentors in the community to help build a better community. So we’re gonna be doing a lot of stuff in the community with youth, helping them in entrepreneurship programs giving them a different look outside of what you see in the music industry going forth the robbing and killing and doing all that craziness, we’re gonna show you a different side of what we do outside of that. So look out for the showcases, look out for the album coming out. We’re gonna be doing independent distribution in all our chapters, we’re gonna be putting albums out all over the world. It’s gonna be a beautiful sight. It’s not a comeback let’s get it straight, we fell back we didn’t fall off. This is not a comeback we call this is a takeover. So we got a Ruff Ryders radio station too, so we’re gonna be having radio stations all over so go to RuffRydersRadio.com. Our chapter is gonna have radio stations all over the world so we are in six regions. We’re just waiting for the moment for us to be reintroduced to the world to this new generation. We did a Supreme deal the Supreme deal opened the door for the new millennium to look at us differently and say these cats were here. We’re gonna honor and respect the trap music and all that but we’re gonna give them that raw hip hop. We’re gonna do some trap music we gonna mix it up. We’re gonna introduce you to Little Waah, my son 14 years old he’s the next next generation, new millennium in this Ruff Rider thing. I wanna give you Quadir Lateef lyrical genius you know hardcore artist that’s gonna be giving you that raw, also gonna be giving you Drew James and Drew James is out of Canada so we’re gonna give you a little Canada flavor you know he does a little party here and there’s a little trap here and there. So we’re gonna mix it up. So we’re gonna give you the best of both worlds. And we have new producers Swizz, me, all my new up and coming producers that we’re gonna be working with. You gonna hear the sound. We have some female artists coming up we’re gonna be working with. We’re just gonna be grinding. We’re looking to do more tours after this one. We’re looking to do the reality show that will come out soon. Just a lot of things happening and just every day is something new.