Swizz Beatz Talks New Projects, Alicia Keys’ Talent, Watch Throne and More
Super producer, rapper, and creative consultant of Reebok, Swizz Beatz, stopped by DJ Whoo Kid’s radio show (with one of his children in tow, the adorable chatterbox, son Egypt with Alicia Keys) to chat about his latest projects, insider details on the making of Watch The Throne, and more. With surprise cameos from A$AP Rocky, Iggy Azalea, and Akon, check out the highlights.
–Carmen Shardae Jobson
On Whitney Houston:
“[She] was a sister to us, and it was an honor being able to work with her on her last album, and her last single [“Million Dollar Bill”]. She was like a sister for real. Her and my wife [Alicia Keys] were super cool as well. That was my wife’s super, super bestie”.
On A$AP Rocky:
“[It was through] Sean Cross, actor-slash-spitter, and you know, that’s A$AP’s real cousin, and he’s been telling me about A$AP, and I’ve been seeing A$AP doing his thing for awhile now, and I was like, ‘Yo, we need to get something to together’, and he was like, ‘Yo, let’s rock’. This is the only joint right now, but you know, the sky’s not the limit, just the view.”
“Me and Nas have been at it for years and years, and we always get to this point in which it’s time for him to rap up the album, and then we get into this deep vibe, and after awhile, we’ll be vibe-ing so much, we forget to work. So this time, we’re gonna vibe and work. So, we’re in deep right now. Writing out some video treatments, stuff like that. We got some other big announcements as well, but I’m going to make him do that though”.
On Watch the Throne:
“Working with Hov has been a long time thing, we’ve been doing this since ’99 I believe…and he’s been like the easiest person to work with because you’re dealing with a genius. When you’re dealing with a genius, it’s easy because you don’t have to think too much. You know the song is going to come out crazy. As long as you do your part, the rest is done. With some artists, you got to everything. The Watch the Throne album was done in a hotel room. The whole album was done in a hotel room. It was me, Christian Louboutin, Kanye…a couple of Def Jam, people, Akon’s brother, Hov, Pharrell, it was like a face off kind of thing, with Pharell was playing joints, they were playing joints off the album. I felt that at the time, ‘OK, there’s a lot of boom back, but not a lot of bounce”. So [the song] “Welcome to the Jungle” was stripped down, straight hip-hop drums. And I was just humming the melody as they were right there playing the joints. And then I was like, ‘Aight, I’ll come back’. Because you know, there was a lot of people, and ‘Ye was funny as hell, like as I was about to leave, he was like: ‘You gonna do those vocals right?’ And I was like, ‘Now!?’ He then went ‘Yeah’, and I was like ‘Cool’. And then I’m going crazy like there’s no one in the room, the place is packed from floor to ceiling, and that’s how that song was recorded”.
“You got people that are just straight gifted. His longevity alone shows that he’s well gifted. A lot of people can have “now” records. But who’s continuously doing it throughout their future, from ’98 to 2012.”
On “Empire State of Mind” and Alicia Keys:
“I was sick of it for one second. But you know, I got her to do the broken down version, which ended up being bigger than the original version overseas. It gave her, her own identity in the song. I think that song is a timeless piece, and her album [will be like] that song, a timeless piece where you got classics on there that people can sing forever. We were just in Vegas, and they brought out that song, and it was like, ‘How did you end up back to that song!’ [It was] two greats doing their thing. That’s the result. ”
On Being Envious of Alicia’s Talent:
“I’m not jealous. I’m inspired. I’ll put her against any producer. On the MP, on everything. I’ll be sitting back like, ‘What the fuck! You rocking the MP like that?’ I remember when I first seen that, I was like ‘Yo, she’s a problem for real’. Super plug-ins, the hundred keyboards with different modules. She’s really into the craft of making music. People need to see this one day. They need to see you banging out a beat. She might give [Dr.] Dre a run for tis money. [And I am] working on a couple of joints on the album, but this album is definitely of the time it speaks of. She’s actually doing a listening session.”
On 50 Cent’s new album:
“A couple of people reached out. I’m just waiting for the confirmation. 50’s easy. All we need is just one of those New York street bangers.”