Swizz Swizz

5 Reasons Swizz Beatz Is Hip-Hop's Most Improved Producer Of All-Time

Want to start a knock down, drag-out, blood-inducing debate with a group of hip-hop purists? Just throw down the following gauntlet: Swizz Beatz. When it comes to the veteran beatmaker, who first gained stardom as Ruff Ryders’ in-house producer in the late ‘90s, any mention of Kasseem Dean being ranked alongside the Mount Rushmore of studio gods Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, J Dilla, and RZA is usually met with rabid get-the-fuck-out-of-here indignation. In fact, a quick Google check of Swizz Beatz will open up a litany of blogs, threads and editorials (moving beyond the tabloid-fueled love-triangle between Swizzy, his superstar R&B princess wife Alicia Keys and outspoken ex Mashonda) where the producer has been called everything from overrated to vastly underrated to a complete hack.

However, the truth is this: Swizz Beatz is the most improved hip-hop producer of all-time. Over the past few years, Swizz has taken his straight-ahead skill-set to new heights, creating some of the most surprising and unique tracks of his career. To understand just how far the man who first garnered his fame with his humble Casio-keyboard-or-bust signature sound has come, VIBE has gathered together The Fader’s executive editor Julianne Escobedo Shepherd; Rap Radar content director B. Dot, Lox member and current Def Jam artist Sheek Louch; and super producer Just Blaze to offer their insight on why Swizz Beatz more than deserves your respect. Read on.


5) He Makes You Forget About His Casio Days

During his early hit-making reign when he was cranking out a bevy of Tunnel bangers for everyone from longtime collaborator DMX (“Ruff Ryders’ Anthem”), and Jay-Z (“Jigga My Nigga”) to N.O.R.E. (“Banned From TV”), Swizz Beatz was routinely called-out for his no-frills Casio keyboard production formula. After all, the Yonkers, New York native did not exactly fit the prototype for the traditional ‘90s East Coast hip-hop producer. For years, ingenious cut-and-paste sample-based masterworks of Marley Marl, Prince Paul, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, and RZA ruled the Rotten Apple scene. For many, Swizz’ futuristic ‘80s-era video-game soundscapes equaled being drenched with a bucket of ice water in 90 degree weather.

Which is why The Fader’s Shepherd finds Swizz’ overall musical evolution so startling. She points specifically to Lil Wayne’s 2008 orchestral, jazzy concept track “Dr. Carter” as an example of Swizz Beatz’ impressive reinvention. “I’ve always liked Swizz Beatz’ production,” Shepherd says. “But you get the sense that during his Ruff Ryders days he was kind of noodling on his synthesizer. It worked for that time, but it never really felt like it was an entire piece of music. Yet, when you hear a song like “Dr. Carter” you almost don’t believe it was produced by Swizz. It’s so different that it makes you ask, ‘Why weren’t you doing this before???’”

Shepherd continues: “I think earlier in his career, Swizz took a lot of heat for his straight ahead synth-production style in comparison to the classic hip-hop sound of DJ Premier. But with all respect to the great Preemo, that criticism came mostly from the purists who were afraid of going from a sample-based production to this sort of new age sound that didn’t bang in the same way. That’s why his evolution makes Swizz Beatz the most improved producer. Whether it’s “Dr. Carter” or a completely different song like Drake’s “Fancy,” you can hear his [tremendous] growth as an artist.”

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The Father Of A Sandy Hook Shooting Victim Committed Suicide

The father of a first-grader killed during 2012's Sandy Hook school shooting committed suicide.

Jeremy Richman 49, was found dead inside his office space Monday morning (March 25). Local authorities said the medical examiner's office has not confirmed a cause of death.

Richman, a trained scientist, and his wife Jennifer Hensel launched the Avielle Foundation after his 6-year-old daughter Avielle Richman. The foundation is committed to providing funding for the neuroscience behind compassion and violence.

In a 2017 interview with NPR, Richman discussed the heartache he and his wife experienced in the years following Avielle's murder. “It was like a ghost limb syndrome, you know, where you keep thinking ‘Where’s Avielle? Do we need to pick her up?’” he said. “And every day you’d have this [realization] that I don’t have a child, and I don’t have to parent. That was just brutal.”

Richman also said with each new shooting, it just resurrected raw emotions.

“Right after Newtown we had the Boston bombings, and then we’ve had Charleston, Orlando and over a hundred school shootings, some of which make the national news and some don’t,” he said. “Every time this happens it breaks a heart and it chokes us up. To be honest, though, now it comes with a fair degree of frustration and anger because things aren’t changing fast enough. I really get sick of ‘thoughts and prayers,’ and ‘our hearts go out.’ That’s not going to change anything. What I need to hear is: ‘My heart is broken, and my boots are on the ground to fix it.’ ”

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The famous Leonardo Da Vinci painting ' The Mona Lisa' is seen on display in the Grande Galerie of the Louvre museum on August 24, 2005 in Paris, France. Dan Brown is the author of numerous bestsellers, including Digital Fortress, Angels and Demons, and Deception Point. His acclaimed novel 'The Da Vinci Code'has become one of the most widely read books of all time. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Father Who Also Doubles As A Sketch Artist Surprises Daughter With Stunning Portrait Of Her As Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa has seen many variations over the years from Lego mosaics to a "Melanated Mona." The latest remix comes from a talented sketch artist who recreated the iconic painting by switching out Mona with his daughter.

On Saturday (March 23), Laurence "Sketch" Cheatham posted a video of his daughter's reaction to his homage. While using his daughter's own stunning photograph, Cheatham's elegant take almost left his daughter speechless. "That's me! Oh my gosh, I'm the Mona Lisa," she said in awe. "[This is] so cool. Thank you. Oh my gosh. How did you do that?"

In between her amazement, Sketch shared how it took three months to create his now-viral image. His talents don't stop with the new Melanated Mini Mona Lisa. A quick look at his Instagram page shows his life-like portraits of celebrities like Beyonce, Rihanna, Drake and the late Tupac Shakur.

He's also lent his talents to social justice with a poignant sketch called "The League." The image includes an angelic look at victims of unjust police killings like Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose and Michael Brown.

Take a look at the adorable viral video and amazing work from Sketch below.


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Been a while, but I’ve been working 💪🏽 Had to trade the pencils in for the paint brushes. Learned a few new tricks, and relearned a few old ones. Now watch this . #2k19 🏆 #art #painting #artist #sketch #art_spotlight #paint #instaart #painter #artoftheday #arts_help #paintings #artwork

A post shared by Laurence Cheatham (@thisissketch) on Feb 20, 2019 at 9:37am PST


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Painting my daughter as Frida Kahlo 💐🙏🏽 House full of #art Photo credit @charliedrizzle #paint #fridakahlo #painter #canvasart #painting #artlife #canvas #artist #artwork #paintingoftheday #paintings #artistsoninstagram #instaart #artsy #arts #paintingwithatwist #artists

A post shared by Laurence Cheatham (@thisissketch) on Mar 14, 2019 at 2:32pm PDT


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#repost of my #pencildrawing of @iamcardib One of my favorite drawings I did this time last year. #cardib

A post shared by Laurence Cheatham (@thisissketch) on Mar 21, 2019 at 3:56pm PDT


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"The League" Please share this with your friends. I want to get this drawing out as far as it can go. Recently, I found a picture of this man holding this sign and it spoke to me. This drawing was inspired by the recent tragedy of Sandra Bland. I wanted to honor those who lost their lives and at the same time show that not everyone is racist and that we're not alone in this. Peace to Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Samuel DuBose and the many others. Feel free to tag and share. #justice #sandrabland #ericgarner #samueldubose #trayvonmartin #michaelbrown #art #drawing #blacklivesmatter @caradelevingne

A post shared by Laurence Cheatham (@thisissketch) on Aug 11, 2015 at 7:01pm PDT


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Pencil work from last year #art #2pac #drawing #sketch @losangelesconfidential

A post shared by Laurence Cheatham (@thisissketch) on Dec 16, 2016 at 9:16pm PST


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Back to using pencils. #charliemurphy #art #arts_help #pencil #sketch #artist #artistsoninstagram #draw #drawing #artwork #artlife #sketching #sketchaday #drawingoftheday #artsy

A post shared by Laurence Cheatham (@thisissketch) on Apr 18, 2017 at 5:21pm PDT

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Nicholas Hunt

Lil Wayne's 1999 Rap Notebook Is On Sale For $250K

If you have $250,000 laying around and fancy yourself a Lil Wayne fan then you can own his rap notebook from 1999.

Weezy was about 17 years old and part of the beloved rap group the Hot Boys when he penned his lyrics for songs "We On Fire" and "I Feel."

The owner of the notebook told TMZ he found it inside a car once owned by Cash Money. As a dealership employee, he rummaged through the backseat and located the prized possession.

Photos of the notebook show water damage, which the owner said was nearly destroyed during Hurricane Katrina.

The notebook was stored in a box in his garage and when the Category 5 storm hit, he evacuated. When he returned much of his belongings were destroyed except for the book. Moments In Time will reportedly handle the sale of the rare find.

Moments In Time has sold several hip-hop artifacts. In 2017, the company sold three pages in which the beloved rapper penned the lyrics to his classic "Dear Mama." Each page priced at $25,000. The company also sold the vehicles Biggie and Pac were killed in.

Weird flex, but okay.


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