Swizz Beatz has just released his new album Poison and it might be the busiest week hes had in a while.
Performing with Lil Wayne on Saturday Night Live and jetting over to the UK for photo shoots and late night parties are just a few of whats kept his schedule jam-packed.
So it was a surprise to find him so chill when we met him in a central London hotel this week.
Then again, Swizz is just that kind of guy.
Poison boasts a star-studded guest list featuring Lil Wayne, Kendrick Lamar, Nas and Young Thug, with J Cole credited as an executive producer.
FYI in case you were wondering, his son Egypt hasnt produced any beats on this album like he did for Kendricks Untitled simply because: He didnt want to.
Guess thats reasonable enough for an eight-year-old.
Its a huge moment for the esteemed hip hop producer, whose last album was released 11 years ago.
More than a decade later, Swizz, real name Kasseem Dean, finds himself in a new era of music littered with mumble rap and trap beats.
But the integrity in his trademark production style of alarming synths, synonymous with New York, is unapologetically still there. More importantly, Swizz has managed to avoid the very real risk of sounding dated despite sticking to his trademark sound, which only highlights his sincerity.
Coming back a refreshed man, Swizz told Metro.co.uk: I needed a break from music. Ive been in music since I was 17 so I took a hiatus to go diversify my portfolio, arts, fashion, design.
I just felt like I dont have to depend on music so I can come back as a owner not a slave to the industry, to the culture.
Everyone just needs a break.
He adds with a special glint in his eyes: But now, theyre not going to get breaks for a long time.
Its fighting talk that pretty much says: I mean business.
It would have been so easy, almost lazy, for Swizz to come back with an album full of those ubiquitous trap beats which others in his generation have tried – and failed – to produce.
But, that just wouldnt fit in with Swizzs brand of being real.
Yeah, Im not doing that, he states matter-of-factly.
Were always going to be disruptive, authentic and individual. For me to come out and try to have fake smoke, its not a part of my DNA. I actually sacrificed status the way I did the album, I did it based on lyricism, poetry, curation and actual produced music.
He continued: Even the artists I used on the album, I didnt use them in the way that I used them. I didnt try to go for the biggest songs on the album.
There are no drums with Nas on the song Echo but theres the most poetic story in hip hop in decades.
Putting Young Thug on 21 Soldiers, nobody ever credited him as a lyricist as they did on that particular song, Swizz continued.
He also praises the natural collaboration with British rap star Giggs, who is one of two British acts to appear on the record.
Its known by now that Swizz and Giggs have a special relationship – it just seems to fit perfectly.
But its no coincidence, as they have the same kind of chemistry Swizz once had with DMX which created so many iconic hits like the Ruff Ryders Anthem.
Speaking of Giggs, Swizz said: He reminds me of DMX. [R&B singer] Angels been my friend for a long time so I called him up, “Man, whos this Giggs guy that reminds me of DMX with his voice and his energy?” I was like, “Yo, let me get his number”.
I got his number and weve been kicking it ever since then. Super guy, super talented.
He then jokes with a smile: Yeah, although Joe Budden hates on him, noting the podcast hosts dislike for UK grime and rap.
Youll get it one day, Joe.
While Giggs guest feature on Poison represents not only their friendship, but Swizzs love and appreciation for UK talent, Young Thugs guest feature has surprised many.
Theres often a divide between old rappers and the younger generation but Swizz refuses to discredit the new eras talent and hunger for success.
You couldnt tell me anything because where was your opinion when I didnt have no food? Or when my mother couldnt even afford to get to work to help us eat, he challenged.
So, we cant get into the middle of that because these guys [may] look good in their videos, but they really come from starving places. I come from the South Bronx, I know what this is like, so who am I to criticise a young artist thats trying to put food on their table?
Tekashi 6ix9ine is one of these new artists trying to put food on his table. Swizz thinks the Brooklyn-native is a mastermind and very smart for the way hes divided and conquered the culture.
The producer explained: He manipulated the whole shit to get to the top. And got songs to back it. Cant be mad at that.
Tekashi recently compared himself to the late, great Tupac Shakur but Swizz thinks the young rapper is more akin to Sticky Fingers from Onyx.
Tupac was laidback, the rebellious, yeah, but hes more Sticky Fingers, he muses.
On Tekashi declaring himself the king of New York, Swizz stated: Theres no one king or queen. Theres kings and queens.
One should feel like theyre the king and if you dont feel like youre the king, dont do it. You should have the confidence to say fuck it, Im the king. So thats why I cant get mad at him for saying hes the king because if I was him Id probably say the same thing.
Needless to say, Swizz has no problem disagreeing with anyone – including his own generational peers.
Last month, the beats-maker gave an impassioned response to Kanye Wests political rants and appearance on Saturday Night Live – just like the rest of hip hop.
However, hes done with criticising the now-divisive rapper in public, stating: What I decided to do involving Ye was, just let the man be who he is.
My opinion is my opinion, thats been my friend for 20 years and Im no longer going to challenge him in public. I deal with him but we have to let him do what hes doing as a creative and Im just not going to challenge him no more in public.
He adds: When I did turn up on him like that, it was emotional and once I stepped back, I was like, “Thats the wrong thing to do”. I need to be available to him if he really needs help and not just kick him while everybodys kicking him.
I dont want to do that. I love him, hes super talented and hes contributed a lot to this creativity, art, music and fashion worlds. I think weve got to let him do his thing.
It was tough love what I gave him. I never said, “Fuck Kanye”, I said fuck the MAGA hat and I still feel that way. What the hat represents, he must not know all the details of what it represents. Let the man do his thing.
Dont put so much pressure on somebody to be perfect, thats it.
Swizz may not be perfect but his innate positivity is certainly to be admired and he and his wife, Alicia Keys, radiate enough of it.
The couple have been married for eight years and, based on their inspirational Instagram posts, are what the social media age would call #relationshipgoals.
Its just who we are, Swizz said nonchalantly.
Its not like we wake up in the morning and think, “How are we going to be positive today?” The thing about her is, shes always positive and I try my best to stay positive.
More: Tupac Shakur
I dont really try to come off like that, its not fake.
With a lightbulb thought, he added sweetly: Matter of fact, let me ask her how her day went…
And there he went, tapping away on his phone to check up on his queen because, thats just the kind of guy Swizz is.
Swizz Beatz has teamed up with Swiss luxury watch brand Zenith to create a new Defy design, a collaboration which he says just makes sense.
The one thing is to have a product that you really love that has your name on it because most people represent things that they dont even wear. I dont know how to do that, the musician explained.
Its super clean and affordable. Its £8,000. The case comes with a record player and vinyl.
Swizz adds: I always like to be ahead of the curve and I feel like Zenith is a brand of the future. The history and the heritage that they have for over 100 years. Its like one big family and we get to do disruptive things. I love that the brand has heritage but its still brand new.
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