Exclusive: Swizz Beatz Talks Upcoming 'Poison' Album And Art Basel 'No Commission: Miami' Showcase
The Grammy Award-winning artist reflects on the past success of his 'No Commission' art show and shares updates on his first studio in over a decade.
It's a bright sunny day in Miami Beach. Swizz Beatz is preparing for his "No Commission" art show inside his new beachfront condo, which is unlike any gallery or exhibit you’ll see at Art Basel 2017. After ascending nearly 30 stories into the air, the elevator doors open up and lead us directly into Mr. Dean’s cultured home, filled with an inspirational collection of artwork, taking up every luxurious inch of the condo’s white walls.
We find Swizz sitting out on his balcony, basking in the sun and wind gusts from the ocean. Embodying Miami’s vibrant swagger, Swizz (born Kasseem Dean) sports a bright yellow polo shirt and comfortable white jeans. The impeding stress of planning the major, Bacardi-sponsored event is shielded behind his humble and collected attitude about the future. Not only is he ready to serve up what could be the most venomous collection of music of his career, the recent Harvard Business School graduate is more than ready to celebrate the two-year anniversary of The Dean Collection’s official takeover in the art world.
Since its inception in Miami's Wynwood district in 2015, the unique art show has traveled to New York, London, Shanghai and Berlin and taken his stunning team of creators to new heights, giving the world a taste of modern artwork. During every show, Swizz and his team put together an elegant display of the best art from international visual artists. Each artist is able to sell their artwork and retain 100% of sale profits. For Art Basel 2017, Swizz looks to bring the epic art fair back to Dade County and offer something new to his artistic fans, while celebrating their accomplishments.
“Now that we’ve established that ‘No Commission’ is global, I wanted to come back here and celebrate our two-year anniversary. It’s like man… there’s so much that we did in these last two years. We’ve given back millions of dollars and helped out a lot of [visual] artists, traveled to different countries, and given people the new entry point to art, which I thought was important. Everybody says that they’re 'celebrating the art' but they’re also taking from it at the same time. I just wanted us to establish that message that it’s by the artists, for the artists, and for the people.”
This year's art and music event will definitely stand out from the rest. "No Commission: Miami" aims to infuse a Caribbean Island-inspired theme throughout its epic three-day exhibition. With an informational panel discussion and a grand pre-show VIP experience in the event lineup, the SoHo Studios-hosted gallery will be open to the public during the day before transforming into an after-party concert at night curated by Swizz himself. However, in the end, Swizz doesn’t want it to be just about the star-studded performers.
“This is not just a concert,” Swizz asserts. “This is a platform and an experience that people can learn from. It helps the artist when they get to keep 100% of their sales. Whatever they get from that show is going straight into their pockets. I want people to focus on the message instead of people craving to watch Wayne do one of his old sets.”
Word is bond. Lately, Swizz has been making move strictly for the art and music culture. Before he contributed two bangers to Fabolous and Jadakiss’ joint album Friday On Elm Street, the Grammy-award winner has been in a “put my hoodie on” mood, especially when hitting the studio to work on his upcoming studio album.
“My mood is opposite from Harvard,” Swizz admits. “My mood is opposite from ‘No Commission.’ My mood is completely opposite from all of those things. I’m in a ‘put my hoodie on’ mood. I know I got a bright shirt on and I'm chilling outside but musically, my mood is bangers. The name of my album is called Poison. I’m giving people straight raw and uncut. I took all the commercial songs off my record, and I only left gutta on my record. I’m not doing a bunch of tracks. Just 10-12, straight to it.”
The Grammy Award-winning artist was recently spotted in the studio with the culture’s finest J. Cole and Chicago's own Chance The Rapper, giving fans a glimpse of the musical possibilities of the second studio album of his career, as well as his first in well over a decade.
While putting finishing touches on the project, Swizz has also been prepping for his epic DJ battle against fellow producer Timbaland, which is now on hold until the completed album drops in 2018.
“I feel that hip-hop can use an injection, and I think they ready for it, too,” Swizz said about the album. “The Fab and Jada ["Theme Music"] joint was like a test. That’s just the warm-up. Even with the battle with me and Tim, we had to push that back to until the top of the year. I think we’re dropping our albums on the same day, so we’ll see. It’s all fun, though.”
The hype for the Swizz Beatz vs. Timbaland beat battle has been high since Swizz called him out at the Mayweather vs. McGregor World Tour last summer. Over the last few months, Timbaland has also been busy working on a few collaborations of his own and hasn’t been pushing for a date as of late. However, Swizz is ready whenever he is.
“It’ll be more celebration than a battle,” Swizz sincerely points out. “I just want to change that word around a little bit. So battle is like ‘kill each other,’ right? You know, but we're really celebrating each other by even having the respect to do that. We're going to treat it like a sport. Come in with your game face, I'll come with my game face and [we'll] do what we need to do. Tim is not an easy guy; he ain’t no pushover. I’m not an easy guy either so this is a good one. It’s for the culture anyway. At the end of the day, nobody loses because the culture wins.”