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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."

On Nas:
“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".

On Jay-Z:
"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."

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Kanye West Marks ‘Watch The Throne’ Anniversary, Says He Misses Jay-Z

Kanye West took a trip down memory lane that made him miss his friend, Jay-Z. On Monday (Aug. 10), West marked the ninth anniversary of Watch the Throne Yeezy by tweeting a screenshot of a performance of him and Jay from the 2011 MTV VMAs with the caption, “Miss my bro...real talk.”

Hov and ‘Ye haven’t been as close in recent years, namely after West’s onstage rant against the Brooklyn native during his St. Pablo Tour in 2016. West ended up cutting the tour short, and was hospitalized for a reported mental breakdown. In the years since, Jay and West have basically been estranged. They posed for a photo at Diddy’s 50th birthday party last December, but it doesn’t seem like they’ll be fully rekindling the brotherhood any time soon.

Miss my bro ... real talk pic.twitter.com/qFS5HwYZxU

— ye (@kanyewest) August 11, 2020

Watch the Throne, which dropped on Aug. 11, 2011, was the first and last collaborative album from Jay and West. The Roc Nation mogul spoke on the tension in a 2017 Rap Radar interview clarifying that his “Kill Jay Z” lyrics weren’t about West, even though he was named on the song. The father of three explained that the friendship fell apart because West crossed the line when he brought up Hov’s family in a public forum.

“What really hurt me was, you cant bring my kids and my wife into it,” Jay shared. “Kanye’s my little brother. He’s talked about me 100 times. He made a song called ‘Big Brother.’ We’ve gotten past bigger issues. But you brought my family into it, now it’s a problem with me. That’s a real, real problem. And he knows it’s a problem.

“He knows that he crossed the line,” continued Jay. “I know him. He knows. I know he knows, because we’ve never let this much space go between one of our disagreements, and we’ve had many, because that’s who we are. That’s what I like about him. He’s an honest person, he’s open and he’ll say things and he’s wrong a lot of times and he’ll confront it.”

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Prince Williams/Wireimage

Viola Davis Buys South Carolina Home She Was Born In For Her Birthday

Viola Davis came full circle in celebration of her 55th birthday on Tuesday (Aug. 11). The How to Get Away with Murder star purchased her childhood home and the surrounding land, she excitedly announced on social media.

“The above is the house where I was born on August 11, 1965. It the birthplace of my story. Today on my 55th year of life..I own it…all of it,” Davis revealed.

The above is the house where I was born August 11, 1965. It is the birthplace of my story. Today on my 55th year of life....I own it....all of it.

"May you live long enough to know why you were born.” -Cherokee Birth Blessing- pic.twitter.com/CatJK405BL

— Viola Davis (@violadavis) August 11, 2020

The dilapidated home, located in South Carolina, was built on a former slave planation which later became her grandmother’s farm. Although Davis was born in the home, her family moved to +Rhode Island when she was two months old.

The youngest of six children, Davis has never been shy to speak about growing up in poverty and going hungry most nights. As a child, Davis came up with different ways to get food, which included joining summer programs for free lunch, and rummaging through trash cans. “I was always so hungry and ashamed,” she told Glamour magazine in 2018. “I couldn’t tap into my potential. I couldn’t get at the business of being me.”

The Oscar-winning actress found her footing in the theater and earned a scholarship to Rhode Island College, before attending the Juilliard School in New York City. She made her silver screen debut in the 1996 film, The Substance of Fire. Davis earned a Tony Award in 2001 for her performance in Broadway's King Hedley II, and booked small roles in films like Out of Sight, Ocean's Eleven, and Traffic. Davis landed her first Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for her riveting performance in 2008's Doubt.

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Tom Fox

Amber Guyger Appeals Murder Conviction In Botham Jean Case

Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger has appealed her murder conviction this week in an effort to receive a shorter sentence, the Star-Telegram reported on Friday (Aug. 7). Guyger is currently serving a 10-year-sentence for fatally shooting Botham Jean inside his apartment in 2018.

Attorneys for Guyger claim that there was insufficient evidence to warrant a conviction. The legal documents reportedly want the murder conviction tossed, or changed to criminally negligent homicide.

“I feel like she received a slap on the wrist for taking my brother’s life,” Botham Jean’s sister Allis Findley. “This tells me that she feels like she didn’t do anything wrong. She did not step on my brother’s toe. She took his life.”

Guyger was found guilty on Oct. 1. She maintains that she entered Jean’s apartment believing that it was her own. Guyger testified that she shot Jean believing that he was an intruder.

“She should have received life, so she should take her 10 years in prison and shut up,” added Findley. “If the court was to do this it would prove that, yes, there is systematic racism and white privilege does prevail over Black life. I’m hoping this appeal gets thrown out and her conviction holds. I’m hoping they overturn the 10 years and give her life instead.”

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