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."
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?"
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.
Alicia Keys through the years
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)