OnlyOnAOL: Swizz Beatz on Alicia, art and how to work with Kanye

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BY DONNA FREYDKIN

Swizz Beatz (real name: Kasseem Dean) has worked with everyone from Mary J. Blige to Kanye West to Ludacris to his wife, musician Alicia Keys.

But, the art collector (who has a museum-worthy collection) is embarking on a vivid new venture: promoting unknown creatives by projecting their work across NYC landmarks as part of Canon's Rebel With A Cause campaign. He's on the board of trustees of The Brooklyn Museum and takes it seriously. His own personal collection is nothing to scoff at, either.

"It's pretty substantial. Sculptures, museum pieces. The kids can touch whatever they want to touch, but they know better than to touch the art. They can observe it. We have great kids. They have art in their rooms as well. It's good for kids to be around art, even if they don't understand it at the moment," he says.

His two boys with Keys, sons Egypt, 5, and Genesis, 1, know their rules and have limits. And yes, dad can see them entering the family business. "Absolutely. One thousand percent. They can be a fireman. They can do whatever they want to do. They should have the freedom to create and express as much as they want. You do whatever that motivates you and stimulates your mind. People put the wrong pressure on their kids. Parenting is very important in how you set your boundaries," he says.

Clearly, he's doing something right. Egypt just contributed music to Kendrick Lamar's surprise new release, "untitled unmastered."

Keep a Child Alive's 10th Annual Black Ball

The Grammy winner collaborated on his wife's upcoming album, about which he remains mum.

"Just one word: epic. You trying to get me into the doghouse? I can't present her album. I'm really proud of her for this body of work. We have fun," he says of their relationship.

OK, and then there's Kanye West. The two spent time in the studio. They get along. Very well.

"Kanye is just himself. We worked on two songs on the album, 'Ultralight Beam' and 'Famous,' and it was like brothers partying in the studio creatively with music. It's like working with a great friends. Lots of energy, excitement and respect. I have respect for his path," says Beatz.

But is West a perfectionist? Beatz doesn't miss a, well, beat. "You can't tell?"

People Alicia Keys Art Basel

As for what's next for him, Beatz doesn't reveal too much. "Always expect the unexpected. Your future should always be unexpected. The attention span is so short. It has to just come out. People say, wow, OK. He's not asleep. He does music. It's very important for people to know about that," he says.

He's zen, and knows his own mind. "You have to make time for yourself no matter what. If you're not feeling spiritual and your energy isn't right, you have to take time for yourself. To just sit there and look at the sky and reset your clock," he says.

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Alicia Keys - updated 2/28
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OnlyOnAOL: Swizz Beatz on Alicia, art and how to work with Kanye
Portrait of singer Alicia Keys, New York, 2001. (Photo by Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)
Alicia Keys (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage for The Recording Academy)
Alicia Keys, winner of multiple NAACP Image awards, including Outstanding Female Artist (Photo by Jason Merritt/FilmMagic)
Eli Harris and Alicia Keys at the Lower East Side in New York, New York (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 20: Alicia Keys performs during the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball on January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. President Barack Obama is hosting ten Inaugural Balls this eveing. Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States today, becoming the first African-American to be elected President of the US. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 06: Alicia Keys attends the Chanel Ready-To-Wear Fall/Winter 2012 show as part of Paris Fashion Week at Grand Palais on March 6, 2012 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tony Barson/WireImage)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28: Alicia Keys attends the 98th Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
(Monica Schipper via Getty Images)
Alicia Keys arrives at The Gordon Parks Foundation Awards Dinner and Auction at Cipriani's Wall Street on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP)
Swizz Beatz, left, and Alicia Keys, attend Keep a Child Alive’s 2014 Black Ball at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
US singer Alicia Keys performs during the 13th music festival Mawazine in Rabat on June 7, 2014. AFP PHOTO / FADEL SENNA (Photo credit should read FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03: Alicia Keys and Swizz Beats attend the 8th annual Keep A Child Alive Black Ball at the Hammerstein Ballroom on November 3, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
Swizz Beats and Alicia Keys attend 'Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty' Costume Institute Gala on April 2, 2011 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: Swizz Beats and Alicia Keys attend the screening of 'Five' at Skylight SOHO on September 26, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
Riccardo Tisci, left, and Alicia Keys, right, attend Keep a Child Alive’s 2014 Black Ball at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz attends the 2014 Angel Ball, hosted by Gabrielle's Angel Foundation, at Cipriani Wall Street on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP)
Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz attends the 2014 Angel Ball, hosted by Gabrielle's Angel Foundation, at Cipriani Wall Street on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP)
FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2014 file photo, Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz attendsthe 2014 Angel Ball, hosted by Gabrielle's Angel Foundation in New York. Keys announced Tuesday, Oct. 21, that her husband, producer-rapper Swizz Beatz, will co-host the 11th annual Black Ball on Oct. 30 at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP, File)
Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys enjoy the sounds of Janelle Monae at The Gordon Parks Foundation Awards Dinner and Auction at Cipriani's Wall Street on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP)
Alicia Keys arrives at the 56th annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys arrive at the 56th annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: (L-R) Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz peform at Webster Hall on December 13, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 04: Alicia Keys attends the 2014 Essence Music Festival on July 4, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
RABAT, MOROCCO - JUNE 7: American singer Alicia Keys performs during the last day of 13th Mawazine Music Festival on 7 June, 2014. (Photo by Mustapha Houbais/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 09: Alicia Keys performs during the outside broadcast of the MTV EMA's 2014 at on November 9, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Shirlaine Forrest/Getty Images for MTV)
In this photo provided by StarPix, recording artist Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz attend Niche Media's annual Gotham gala in New York, Monday, March 15, 2010. (AP Photo/Dave Allocca, StarPix)
Singer Alicia Keys and husband Swizz Beatz arrive at the "Keep A Child Alive Black Ball" at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
Director Alicia Keys and husband Swizz Beatz attend the Lifetime and Sony Pictures Television premiere screening "Five" at Skylight SoHo on Monday, Sept. 26, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
Alicia Keys, left, her husband Swizz Beatz, second from left, Cassie, center, and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, and an unidentified woman, right, attend to Kanye West presentation for Women's Fall-Winter, ready-to-wear 2013 fashion collection, during Paris Fashion week, Tuesday, March 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Zacharie Scheurer)
Alicia Keys, left, and Swizz Beatz arrive at the 54th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys arrive at the 2012 Billboard Awards at the MGM Grand on Sunday, May 20, 2012 in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by John Shearer/AP Images)
Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys attend Keep a Child Alive’s 10th Annual Black Ball on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Singer Alicia Keys arrives at Unite4good And Variety Host 1st Annual Unite4:humanity Event on February 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys enjoy the sounds of Janelle Monae at The Gordon Parks Foundation Awards Dinner and Auction at Cipriani's Wall Street on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP)
Alicia Keys and husband Swizz Beatz arrive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala benefit, celebrating Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, Monday, May 7, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes)
Alicia Keys, left, and Swizz Beatz arrive at the 55th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
American actress and singer-songwriter Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz arrive at the Cannes festival palace, to take part in the NRJ Music awards ceremony, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, in Cannes, southeastern France. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
Recording artist Alicia Keys, left, and her husband, producer Swizz Beatz, right, attend a screening of "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete" hosted by the Cinema Society & Tommy Hilfiger on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR UNITED NATIONS FOUNDATION - Singer, songwriter and humanitarian, Alicia Keys smiles for a photo backstage at the fifth annual Social Good Summit: Connecting for Good, Connecting for All, a convening of world leaders, new media and technology experts, grassroots activists, and voices from around the world to challenge a growing worldwide community to explore how technology and new media can be leveraged to benefit people everywhere, to create a better world by the year 2030, on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Stuart Ramson/Invision for United Nations Foundation/AP Images)
Singer Alicia Keys performs during a memorial service for actress Ruby Dee at The Riverside Church, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014 in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
American actress and singer-songwriter Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz arrive at the Cannes festival palace, to take part in the NRJ Music awards ceremony, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, in Cannes, southeastern France. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
Singer Alicia Keys, left, and her husband, Swizz Beatz, second from left, take back their son, Egypt, after a picture with Shaquille O'Neal, right, during NBA basketball All-Star Saturday Night, Feb. 16, 2013, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2012 file photo, singer Alicia Keys, left, her son Egypt and her husband Swizz Beatz, right, watch courtside during an NBA basketball game between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat, in New York. Keys is releasing her fifth album, "Girl on Fire," on Nov. 27, 2012. It features Frank Ocean, Bruno Mars, Babyface, Emeli Sande, Maxwell, Nicki Minaj, John Legend, her husband Swizz Beatz and their son Egypt. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File)
From left, Spike Lee, singer Alicia Keys, her husband, Swizz Beatz and their son Egypt sit courside during NBA All-Star Saturday Night basketball Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Singer/songwriter Alicia Keys attends the 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' New York Premiere on April 24, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: (Exclusive Coverage) Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz speak onstage during Keep A Child Alive's 11th Annual Black Ball at Hammerstein Ballroom on October 30, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Child2014/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 04: Singer Alicia Keys attends the 2014 DVF Awards on April 4, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Alicia Keys' 'Blue Moon: From The Journals Of Mama Mae & LeeLee' Book Release at Barnes & Noble Tribeca on November 12, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
Alicia Keys, left, snaps a picture of Shaquille O'Neal, right, holding her son Egypt as her husband Swizz Beatz looks on during NBA All-Star Saturday Night basketball Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Alicia Keys, the executive producer of the movie "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete"smiles as she speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 in Washington. The White House hosted a screening of "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete," a coming of age story about two inner-city youth who are left to fend for themselves in the Bronx. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 7: Alicia Keys appears on CBS This Morning with Norah O'Donnell, Charlie Rose and Gayle King on Monday, Dec. 7, 2015 for the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Heather Wines/CBS via Getty Images)
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