Swizz Beatz‘s last solo album was more than a decade ago, so he had high standards for his upcoming album Poison. “I wanted to make an East coast Chronic,” he told VIBE, referencing Dr. Dre’s classic 1992 solo debut. The legendary producer gave a private listening session for eight of the album’s tracks.
Poison is set to feature guest appearances from Kendrick Lamar and The LOX (on the same song), Nas, Lil Wayne, Nas, Jim Jones, Pusha T, Giggs, Young Thug, and 2 Chainz — with all of them sounding as energized and invested as ever. The Lil Wayne song is scheduled to drop this week.
Swizz whittled down 70 songs to a trim 10 or 11 and created a layered, orchestral version of the booming knock that has become a signature of his 20-plus year career.
“I handed all the creativity on the album to the artists, in their comfort zone. I didn’t make it about Swizz. It’s my album, but I’m a producer, and it needs to be about the artists that are on it,” Swizz said. “I wanted it to be lyrically, the best album this year, last year, and the year after … As a producer, you either want to make someone sound better than they usually are, or better than they’ve been in a long time.”
The album is also notably void of radio singles — full only of the hard-hitting hip-hop, no concessions.
“Some people think I’m crazy because I took off some big, number one records that would’ve charted on Billboard,” he said. “But when you do what’s passionate, who knows what can be a number one hit?”
But out of all the songs he played, one was inconspicuously left out: the gritty collaboration with Jay-Z, Nas, DMX, and Jadakiss that he previewed at last year’s historic beat battle with Just Blaze. The one with Nas echoing “Escobar Season,” that had Busta Rhymes making the scrunchy face as Swizz played it—and the Internet collectively making the same expression, foaming at the mouth for its release.
Similar to leaving out hit singles in order to keep the integrity of the total product, Swizz doesn’t want the hype behind this song to take attention away from the rest that Poison has to offer.
“I want people to respect this body of work. Then, when the timing is right, we’ll put (the other song) out too,” he said. “I feel like if I give people that now—people might disagree, but this is how I feel about it—they’re going to take the cherry off the ice cream, and all the time you put into preparing everything else goes out the window. It’s going to come, just not right now.
“Or maybe I’ll change my mind,” he said after cracking a smile. “I’m funny like that.”