Saturday Night Focus – Focus On – Swizz Beatz

Swizz Beatz

Swizz Beatz in June 2007.
Background information
Birth name – Kasseem David Dean
Born September 13, 1978 (age 34)
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Genres – Hip hop
Occupations – Record producer, rapper, record executive, disc jockey, composer, creative director
Instruments – Keyboard, sampler
Years active1994–present
Labels – Full Surface, Everest, Atlantic, Warner, Monster Music Group[1]
Associated acts – Alicia Keys, Busta Rhymes, Cassidy, DMX, Drag-On, Eve, Fabolous, Jay-Z, The LOX, T.I.
Kasseem David Dean (born September 13, 1978),[2] better known by his stage name Swizz Beatz, is an American hip hop recording artist, record producer, and composer from New York City. Beginning his career in music as a disc jockey, Swizz Beatz is now also a creative director, fashion designer and painter. At the age of 16, he gained recognition in the hip hop community through his friendship with East Coast rapper DMX. He also found a protégé in Philadelphia-based rapper Cassidy, who helped Dean launch his label, Full Surface Records. ranked him #27 on its list of the “Top 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Producers,”[3] while The Source placed him on its list of the 20 greatest producers in the magazine’s 20-year history.[4] Renowned hip hop artist Kanye West, called him “the best rap producer of all time.”[5] He is married to American R&B singer-songwriter Alicia Keys, with whom he has one child. He has also fathered three other children, including one with ex-wife American R&B singer-songwriter Mashonda and another with English singer Jahna Sebastian.

Life and career

1978–1997: Early life

Due to his parents’ separation in his early life, Dean did not see much of his postal worker father as a child which made him not remorseful. With Puerto Rican ancestry on his mother’s side and Eritrean descent on his father’s side,[citation needed] he spent most of his childhood raised by his mother in the South Bronx, where he first encountered hip hop.

After obtaining the necessary equipment from his stepfather and uncles,he began deejaying as a teenager and enjoyed a modicum of success therewith. After relocating to Atlanta, Georgia due to his repeated involvement in violent behavior at Harry S. Truman High School, he started to work for his uncles, Joaquin and Darrin Dean, who were co-CEOs of the Ruff Ryders record label. In his early work, he generally chose not to sample, instead using the Korg Trinity and Triton keyboards and seeking to accentuate the performance aspect of his music.

1998–2006: Career beginnings

With his aunt Dee and uncles Chivon and Waah all involved with the Ruff Ryders label, he began to produce tracks at the tender age of 16. A year latere sold his first beat to DMX , which became his chart-topping single “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem”.

In 2001, at the age of 23, in a joint venture with Clive Davis, he established his own record label, Full Surface, which became a subsidiary of J Records.[6] The first artist signed was Philadelphia-based rapper Cassidy. It was not until Dean’s first compilation album, Swizz Beatz Presents G.H.E.T.T.O. Stories released in 2002, that Swizz started to get noticed for his production style and interesting ideas and Cassidy began to gain attention for his performance.

The same year, he released two singles “Guilty” and “Bigger Business”, both of which charted on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs as well as being accompanied by music videos.[7] Along with being associated with their own Ruff Ryders and Roc-A-Fella Records, Dean began to expand his scope to include production of artists from more mainstream labels such as Elektra, Atlantic, Epic, and Def Jam, as well as Bad Boy Entertainment. His career largely grew from that point.

2006–07: One Man Band Man

In February 2007, design duo Heatherette staged their Fall 2007 New York Fashion Week runway show and Dean was asked to mix the music therefor .[8]

On August 21, 2007, Swizz Beatz released his debut studio album One Man Band Man[9] The album, preceded by the singles “It’s Me Bitches” and “Money in the Bank”, sold 45,000 copies in its first week.[9][10] and two months later on October 19, he launched a contest called “Share the Studio”, presented by Music Video 2.0 and The Source magazine. The contest was intended to be a continuation of the work from his debut album.[11]

Later that same year, former Ruff Ryder members and longtime friends, the legendary Cleveland-based hip hop group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony were signed to the label [12] along with Drag-On,[13] and Eve.[14]

2008–present: Monster Music Group and Haute Living

Undaunted by the disappointing sales of his last album, Swizz Beatz began working on his second studio album soon after the release of his first. In late 2007 in an interview with Format Magazine he announced the title as Life After the Party saying:[15]

“The opportunities that I’ve got from doing my album (One Man Band Man) are much bigger than just producing. A lot of things came from me being able to put a voice to my face. It was me just expressing myself and having the opportunity to – it was the one man band. And now I’m doing part two, which is Life After the Party.”
On April 24, 2009, he released a promotional song for Hennessy Black, entitled “When I Step in the Club”. A music video, directed by Hype Williams, was also released.[16]

In 2010, he renamed his second studio album on three occasions via his Twitter. He first announced he was calling it King Issues but later on that day settled on The Perception of Greatness,[17] and on August 23 while in a studio session with Mary J. Blige in New York City, he revealed the album’s new title to be Haute Living, stating that it’s the perfect phrase to represent what he’s all about.[18]

While being interviewed on BBC Radio he announced that he was planning to release it on September 13, to coincide with his birth date.[19] Rather than being released under his own imprint, the album was actually released under his legal contract with Everest Entertainment/Atlantic/Warner, who signed the rapper in August 2010. Confirmed guest appearances include his wife Alicia Keys, Bono, Travis Barker, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Lenny Kravitz, Mary J. Blige and John Legend.[20] On February 12, 2010, he and 81 other artists including Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Jamie Foxx,, and Usher, debuted “We Are the World 25 for Haiti” during the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Inspired by GOOD Fridays the 2010 weekly series of free mp3’s from Kanye West, Swizz Beatz launched his own series entitled Monster Mondayslater that year. The first offering, “DJ Play that Beat” featured Estelle, and was released on October 25. Other Monster Monday tracks feature Rakim, Pusha T, DMX, Busta Rhymes, Pharrell and many more.[21][22]

His first Grammy Award came in 2011, awarded in the category of Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for a track entitled “On to the Next One” teaming him with American rapper Jay-Z. The first promotional single from Haute Living was entitled “Everyday (Coolin’)”, features a verse from Eve, was produced by Joe Lindsay, and was released through on March 28, 2011.[23] He revealed during an interview with Paper Mag, that a few yet-to-be-released special collaborations will appear on the album including one titled “Skyscrapers” featuring Kanye West and Bono.

“”We got this song–it’s me, Bono and Kanye on this one song called “Skyscrapers.” I recorded with Kanye in the studio and then I recorded with Bono in this actual studio right here. Mary J. Blige is on the album too; John Legend. But they’re all on the album in super amazing ways. It’s not like a compilation–it’s a nice mixture of creativity. I had no boundaries with it; I had great partners on the album–Reebok was supporting me.[24]”
Swizz Beatz and his Monster Music Group recently signed a joint venture with Imagem Music USA. In a press release, the artist confirmed his excitement at his upcoming partnership with Richard Stumpf and the entire group over at Imagem Music. saying: “This partnership will enable me to further develop my group of talented producers and also introduce many new producers and writers to the world”. Protegé Tyrone Johnson and Naki “Snagz” Levy are the first acts to sign with Monster Music Publishing, [25] and on May 21, 2011, he further confirmed that Dr. Dre was working on the album with him.[26]

On March 7, 2012, the artist announced that he will be releasing a mixtape featuring guest appearances from DMX, Nas, Rick Ross, The LOX and ASAP Rocky, who was featured on the first release, “Sreet Knock”. He also stated he doesn’t have a release date for Haute Living claiming he’s a “perfectionist” who is “taking my time to get it right”.[27] On March 22, 2012, “Street Knock” featuring ASAP Rocky was premiered on “The Angie Martinez Show”. Produced by AraabMuzik, the song will be featured on the mixtape, entitled Limitless.[28]

On November 2, 2012, he released his newest single, “Everyday Birthday” featuring Grammy Award winning artists Chris Brown and Ludacris and was produced by Swizz and Jukebox.[29] Swizz has chosen to release a series of what he has coined “memorable moments” in this now single driven time in music.[30]

Producing career

Swizz Beatz has produced hit singles for many elite rap, hip-hop soul and R&B artists, such as DMX (“Party Up (Up in Here)”), Beyoncé (“Check on It”, “Ring the Alarm”), T.I. (“Bring ‘Em Out”), Styles P (“Good Times”), Cassidy (“Hotel”, “I’m a Hustla”), Busta Rhymes (“Touch It”) and many more.

In 2003, he began to expand his label; Big Tigger, Keith Sweat, Bounty Killer and Yung Wun were all in talks to signing with Full Surface but in the end only Yung Wun was signed. Yung Wun, whom Swizz Beatz took under his wing and was executive producer of his album, The Dirtiest Thirstiest and co-produced the lead single “Tear It Up.[31][32][33]

In 2009, Swizz Beatz produced many popular singles including “Nasty Girl” by Ludacris featuring Plies, “Who’s Real” by Jadakiss featuring OJ da Juiceman, “Million Bucks” by Maino, “Million Dollar Bill” by Whitney Houston, “I Can Transform Ya” by Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne and “On to the Next One” by Jay-Z .[6]

Swizz Beatz also was named the first “Producer in Residence” at New York University. This lasted from the 2010-2011 academic year.[34]

Other ventures

Fashion designer

In 2006, he became a partner involved in the popular clothing company Kidrobot, a creator and retailer of limited-edition art toys and clothing.[6][35]

Shoe designer

On Twitter in 2010, Swizz Beatz revealed his new sneaker line with Reebok.[36][37]


Swizz Beatz not only collects paintings but also paints in his free time. He donates the money he earns from his paintings to the Children’s Cancer & Blood Foundation.[38]

Brand promoter

In 2010, Swizz Beatz become involved in the design and launch of the Aston Martin Rapide. In 2011, Swizz Beatz became the official face of Lotus cars until CEO Dany Bahar left the company. Subsequently, Swizz Beatz returned to Aston Martin for 2013.[39]

Personal life

Swizz Beatz with wife Alicia Keys, in Cannes, France, at the NRJ Music Awards ceremony, January 2013
On October 25, 2000, his first son with Nicole Levy, Prince Nasir Dean was born.[citation needed] In 2004, he married Mashonda, together they have one child, Kasseem David Dean, Jr. (born December 2006). In April 2008, they announced their plans to divorce after four years of marriage[citation needed].

In May 2009, it was confirmed that Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys were in a relationship after almost a year of speculation. In May 2010, Beatz confirmed he was engaged to Alicia Keys, and that she was pregnant with Beatz’ fourth, and her first child.[40] During the time of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the couple took part of a union and had the unborn child blessed in a Zulu ceremony, which took place in the Illovo suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa.[41] Keys and Swizz Beatz married on the French island of Corsica on July 31, 2010.[42] Alicia Keys gave birth to their son, Egypt Daoud Ibarr Dean, on October 14, 2010.[43][44]

Swizz Beatz also has a daughter named Nicole Dean with a Russian singer who lives in London named Jahna Sebastian.[45] In May of 2011, Beatz flew to London to celebrate his daughter’s birthday along with two of his sons.[45]


Main articles: Swizz Beatz discography and Swizz Beatz production discography
Studio Albums
One Man Band Man (2007)
Haute Living (2014)
Compilation albums
Swizz Beatz Presents G.H.E.T.T.O. Stories (2002)
Awards and nominations

Urban Music Awards
2009, Best Producer (won)
Grammy Awards
2010, Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group “On to the Next One” (won)
2010, Best Rap Song “On to the Next One” [Nominated]
2010, Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group “Fancy” [Nominated]

Red Everything Movement


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