Menu

Ruffhouse

From the Streets of Philly to the Top of the '90s Hip Hop Charts

How Ruffhouse Records founder Chris Schwartz overcame poverty, abuse, and addiction to start one of the most pivotal labels in hip-hop history and launch the careers of some of music’s biggest stars

Buy the book on Indiebound

“All respect to Chris Schwartz. He is a great visionary.”—Nas

As a struggling musician trying to catch a break in 1980s Philadelphia, Chris Schwartz navigated the crime-infested, morally bankrupt music industry to build one of the most successful hip-hop record labels in the world. That label was Ruff-house, which launched the careers of Nas, The Fugees, Cypress Hill, and others, dominating the charts and generating global revenues of over one billion dollars.

Schwartz and his partner, Joe Nicolo, built Ruffhouse from one desk and a phone to one of hip-hop’s most revered record companies while simultaneously struggling with drug addiction and alcoholism. A story of money, greed, envy, betrayal, violence, addiction, loss, and redemption, not to mention a whole lot of music, Ruffhouse reveals the inside story of the record companies, recording studios, tour buses, private jets, mansions, radio stations, and concert halls at the height of hip-hop’s 1990s heyday, while also uncovering the darker side of the business, from police stations to rehab clinics, courtrooms to prisons. Narrated in Schwartz’s own candid, searing prose, Ruffhouse is a gripping portrayal of hip-hop culture and its transition to a global commercial platform.

The Diversion Books Newsletter

Subscribe to the monthly Diversion Books email newsletter!

*We promise not to spam. 🙂