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

Mary J. Blige Talks About "The London Sessions"
Mary J. Blige Talks About "The London Sessions"

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."

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Keep a Child Alive's 10th Annual Black Ball
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
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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