Bruno Mars to Headline This Year’s Essence Festival of Culture

Bruno Mars is sharing his essence in a big way…

The 34-year-old part-Puerto Rican Grammy-winning singer-songwriter has been named one of the main stage headliners for the Essence Festival of Culture.

Bruno Mars

Mars will co-headline the event with Janet Jacksonas Essence celebrates its 50th anniversary. 

Mars’ appearance will be his first time performing at the festival — and his only 2020 U.S. festival performance.

Essence Festival of Culture will expand for the first time from three to five days (July 1-5) in New Orleans, marking one day for each decade. This year’s theme is “Own Our Power.”

Jackson will be making her third appearance at the festival. Her appearance will take place during her newly announced Black Diamond World Tour, titled after her upcoming 12th studio album.

In addition to Jackson and Mars, the festival’s three-night concert series will include the following lineups at the Louisiana Superdome:

Main stage: Ari Lennox, Janelle MonaePatti LaBelleRaphael Saadiq (performing songs across his entire career from Tony! Toni! Tone! through his solo albums, including Jimmy Lee), Estelle Presents Reggae & Afrobeats Link Up featuring Afro BChronnixElephant ManKraniumMax GlazerMaxi PriestShenseeaand more, Summer Walker,  Swizz BeatzPresents In the Zone featuring guest artists. 

Hosted by Loni Love with music by D-Nice, the main stage lineup will salute music icons each night, including a special anniversary celebration on July 4. 

Superlounges: Casmé, D SmokeDemi GraceDoug E. Fresh Presents The Real Hip-Hop and R&B Party, Elah HaleGoldlinkJac RossJamesdavisJidennaJune’s DiaryKiana LedeKitty CashLeikeli47MasegoMr EaziOswin BenjaminRapsodySaweetieSiRSminoStokleyTamiaTank and the BangasTeaMarrrThe New Respects and Umi.

 “This is a milestone year for Essence and our community as we celebrate 50 years of creating opportunities for our culture to shine and the role of black women in making it possible for us to do what no other brand has done,” said Michelle Ebanks, CEO of Essence Communications, Inc.“To be able to say that at 50 years, we are black-owned, diversified across media, technology, commerce and live events, and impacting our culture in new and even deeper ways than ever before is a blessing – and one that comes with a tremendous responsibility to our community to continue to evolve, innovate and transform. That remains our focus and commitment as we work to ensure that we are here serving black women deeply and advancing black culture, economic ownership and inclusion globally for the next 50 years.”

Regarding Mars and Jackson, Ebanks added, “These two powerhouses, along with our robust slate of programming, performances and tributes, will continue our legacy of cultural excellence and dynamic, only-at-Essence experiences that excite, elevate and inspire.”

For more information, visit Essence.com/festival.

Swizz Beatz Signs with UTA

Swizz Beatz has new representation…

United Talent Agency (UTA) has signed the 41-year-old half Puerto Ricanrecording artist, music producer, entrepreneur, and art collector for representation in all areas. He’ll continue to be managed by Monique Blake of Swizz Beatz productions. 

Swizz Beatz

The announcement comes after his highly-successful Dreamweaversa group exhibition co-presented with UTA Artist Space earlier this year. Inspired by surrealism and the 21st century, the exhibition attracted thousands of visitors and 1.2 billion media impressions.

In addition to their Grammy award-winning music careers, Beatz and his wife Alicia Keys are founders of The Dean Collection, which includes over a thousand works from rising and established contemporary artists. Through the Dean Collection, they host the No Commission Art Fair, which allows a space for artists to sell their work and keep 100 percent of the proceeds.

“Swizz has an intuitive understanding of the cultural landscape and is a true creative pioneer across the intersection of art, music and business,” said UTA’s CEO Jeremy Zimmer. “He was the driving force behind the success of our Dreamweavers exhibition and we look forward to working together to bring more innovative projects to life.”

“I am excited to continue creating history with the UTA team!” Beatz added. “What we did with Dreamweavers was just a peek into where we want to go with the creativity. ‘Let the creatives create’ is the cornerstone of what myself and The Dean Collection are built on, and with UTA as my partner I know my wings will span even further to do just that…CREATE!”

Swizz Beatz & Nas Release Cinematic Video for “Echo”

Swizz Beatz is echoing with art…

The 40-year-old half-Puerto Rican hip-hop rapper, DJ and record producer and  Nas have released the cinematic visual to their latest collaboration, “Echo,” after premiering the clip to a private audience earlier in the week.

Swizz Beatz & Nas

Swizz Beatz and Nas reconnected for the first time since 2012 with “Echo,” which served as one of the standout cuts on his Poison album.

To ensure that the “Echo” video would be a state-of-the-art affair and being the fine-art connoisseur that he is, Swizz Beatz brought Escobar all the way to the MORI Building Digital Art Museum in Japan to shoot the captivating visual.

The duo move through multiple fascinating exhibits within the museum, as Nas kicks off his bristling verse in a heavenly room filled with glittering lights gleaming down on him.

More collaborations between Nas and Swizz Beatz could be on the horizon outside of the shelved mythical track alongside Jay-Z and Jadakiss.

“I think Nas is in a good space,” Swizz Beatz told Billboard in October. “I’ve heard him now talk about music more than I ever did. It’s kind of hard to get him in the studio but he’s like, ‘Yo, send me this’ or ‘Yo, are you in?'”

Swizz Beatz Releases Video for His New Lil Wayne & Alicia Keys Collaboration “Pistol on My Side”

Swizz Beatz is packin’ heat

The 40-year-old half-Puerto Rican hip-hoprapper, DJ and record producer, whose real name is Kasseem Dean, has released the scorching video to “Pistol on My Side,” his collaboration with Lil Wayne and Beatz’s wife Alicia Keys.

Swizz Beatz & Lil Wayne

Filmed at Lil Wayne’s skate park, Weezy is in full-force, thrashing doubters with his punchy delivery. “Pistol on my side, you don’t want that thing to scream at ya/ Laughin’ when you die, boy, my pistol a comedian (brr)/ Pistol on my side, now he lyin’ like the media/ Clips longer than encyclopedias, you’re readin’ ’em,” he raps.

While Beatz amplifies the track with his resounding ad-libs, Keys is found playing the piano in the flaming clip. As Wayne fires away the remaining bars from his loaded verse, Keys flips the track with her gloomy riffs, adding an exciting close to the fiery visual.

Not only did Swizz release his long-awaited video for “Pistol on My Side,” but he also announced the track list for his forthcoming album Poison.

Set to be released on November 2, Beatz enlisted Kendrick Lamar, Nas, Young Thug, Pusha T, The LOX and more for his first project in 11 years.

For the proverbial cherry on top, Beatz recruited J. Cole to serve as the project’s executive producer.

Swizz Beatz in “Album Mode,” with a Possible Assist from J. Cole

Swizz Beatz is in the music zone…

The 39-year-old half-Puerto Rican hip hop recording artist and record producer may be cooking up sizzlingmusic in the studio with J. Cole, as evidenced by an eyebrow-raising Instagram photo.

J. Cole & Swizz Beatz

“Told you I’m in Album mode!!!!” the producer captioned a photo published on Tuesday (No. 21). “@realcoleworld good vibes and Magic Zone☠️☠️☠️☠️☠️☠️ the graduation is over !!!”

There’s no word exactly on what the musicians, both adorned in black, could be working on. However, with a recent Harvard Business School degree under his belt, Swizz Beatz has lot of free time in his schedule.

His last full-length solo album, One Man Band Man, was released in 2007, and fans of both artists are surely hankering for new music.

Fabolous Releasing His Collaborative Album with Jadakiss, Friday on Elm Street, on Black Friday

Fabolous is ready for Black Friday… 

The 39-year-old half-Dominican American hip-hop singer and Jadakiss will release their highly anticipated new project, Friday on Elm Street, will be released on Black Friday (November 24).

Fabolous & Jadakiss

Fabolous and Jadakiss have been teasing fans with their collaborative Freddy vs. Jason project for years.

The duo have even shared the artwork for the project, which features an image of a fire burning in a gloomy, dark woods.

Aside from the Future-assisted “Stand Up,” the New York duo didn’t stray too far from their native hometown for the features on the album and recruited the likes of Teyana TaylorFrench MontanaSwizz Beatz and Styles P — all of whom share the duo’s New York roots. The project also features a remix of “Stand Up” with southern rhymers Yo Gotti and Jeezy.

At a recent listening party for Friday on Elm Street, Fabolous and Jadakiss teased that they’re already planning to take their project on the road, but just haven’t figured out tour dates yet.

Here’s the tracklist for Friday on Elm Street:

  1. F Vs. J Intro
  2. Stand Up” ft. Future
  3. Theme Music” Feat. Swizz Beatz
  4. Ground Up
  5. Soul Food
  6. Principles
  7. Talk About It ft. Teyana Taylor
  8. All About It ft. French Montana
  9. I Pray Feat. Swizz Beatz
  10. Ice Pick ft. Styles P
  11. Nightmares Ain’t As Bad
  12. Stand Up (Remix) ft. Future, Yo Gotti and Jeezy

Swizz Beatz Collaborates with Bally & Ricardo Cavolo for Art-Inspired Capsule Collection

Swizz Beatz is bringing new meaning to the phrase “wearable art”…

The 39-year-old half-Puerto Rican hip-hop artist and record producer has collaborated with Bally for a new capsule collection, with an assist from Spanish artist Ricardo Cavolo.

Swizz Beatz

Beatz personally reached out to Bally via Instagram asking to ceam up, and he wanted to make sure whatever he created was artistic enough to be considered art.

“It’s a dream collaboration,” Beatz tells Billboard of Bally x Swizz, his new, illustration-centric collection with luxury footwear brand Bally, available now. “I’ve been a fan of Bally since back in the day, growing up in the South Bronx. Bally used to be the signature of making it, Slick Rick, Doug E Fresh with “Fresh dressed like a million bucks/Threw on the Bally shoes and the fly green socks,” and now to come back years later and be the one to bring things to a new generation…it’s amazing.”

Bally x Swizz

The idea to collaborate with the second oldest heritage brand in the world (second only to Hermes) came to Beatz while at London’s Heathrow airport.

“I saw these sneakers at the Bally store there and was like, ‘okay, these are cool. But why doesn’t anyone wear them?’

In Bally’s mind, they thought what they were doing was perfectly fine, because the leather, the know-how, the fabrics; those have always been the best. But they were very conservative about it. That’s not what the young people want,” Beatz says.

As a result, their first capsule collection is unlike any Bally line previously produced, and hopefully will be one the younger set is clamoring for. Textured leather backpacks ($825), lace up high tops ($595), slip-on sneakers ($425) and a handful of luxury accessories (iPhone cases, keychains, sweaters and even varsity jackets ranging from $125 to $1,695) are decorated with Spanish artist Ricardo Cavolo’s folk art-inspired protagonists; pious-looking symmetrical symbols designed in bright, Barcelona-like colors.

Bally x Swizz

“When I spoke with Swizz about the concept of the collection, he told he wanted me to create something about when the artist works with total freedom, the creation with no borders, free spirit,” Cavolo said of the inspiration behind his exclusive illustrations. “So I decided to create a few characters representing the artists who let the animal they have inside, out. Working with freedom and no borders means to work with that animal inside of us. These characters are a sort of gods or shamans with his/her spirit animal as totems.”

When asked about choosing Cavolo, Beatz said he wanted an artist whose work felt, at its core, “diverse with no color boundaries.”

“It’s very important for art to be freedom of expression, and I didn’t want people to say this is only a hip-hop thing or only a black thing or only an Asian thing. I wanted people to feel like they can be part of it,” Beatz said. “The world is very fragile right now, people are very fragile right now. At the end of the day being an African American from the South Bronx, people think I should only have one style, one taste. But I broke out of that 20 years ago and I want to help other people break out of that too. We’re inspired by the world, not just our surroundings. When I started traveling decades ago, I started collecting art from all places from the world. When I look at art now, I see cultures and united ideals instead of peoples skin.”

The Bally x Swizz capsule collection is available at bally.com and Bally stores, with products ranging from $125 to $1,695.

Swizz Beatz Joins Voices with DJ Snake, Jeremih & Young Thug on “The Half”

Swizz Beatz is doing a Half step…

The 38-year-old half-Puerto Rican hip-hop artist and record producer appears on the “The Half,” a dance anthem from French deejay DJ Snake.

Swizz Beatz

In addition to Swizz Beatz rap, the track also features rap verses from Jeremih and Young Thug.

Directed by X, the clip for the new song was shot at a trippy mirror room. It also features a giant light installation, which was created by Steve Goncalves & Nonotak. Donning a shiny gold coat and matching sunglasses, Swizz starts off the video by rapping his verse. Jeremih, Thug and Snake then alternately enter the frame.

As the video continues, the rappers have some fun with a curvaceous model as they begin caressing her enormous backside. The model is also seen twerking along to the music before she walks down the set with orange flares in-hand.

“The Half” is a cut off Snake’s album”Encore“, which was released on August 5.

Swizz Beatz Hosting Three-Day Art & Concert Series at Art Basel Miami Beach

Swizz Beatz is bringing a mix of art and music to Art Basel Miami Beach this year.

The 37-year-old half-Puerto Rican hip-hop artist and record producer is collaborating with Bacardi for a three-day art and concert series at North America’s foremost international modern and contemporary art fair next month to showcase up-and-coming artists — both visual and musical — on a platform that will also feature performances from Alicia Keys, Pusha T, A-Trak, DMX and Wiz Khalifa, among others.

Swizz Beatz

The collaboration, called Casa Bacardi at Wynwood, will be curated by Beatz’s The Dean Collection and encompass two separate yet connected events.

The first, running from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Dec. 3-5, is a No Commission Art Fair, where artists will be allowed to showcase their work for free and take home 100 percent of their proceeds, a departure from the industry standard where galleries both take a percentage of profits and charge for booth space.

The second, running from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. each night, is the Bacardi Untameable House Party, a concert series with both established and emerging musicians and DJs.

“It’s by the artist, for the artist, with the people,” Swizz tells Billboard. “And I think a lot of people forgot the message of why they’re even going down to Basel. You’re going down to Basel because there are amazing, creative artists who took a lot of time out of their lives to put together some masterpieces and hope for entry in a great collection or for somebody to be inspired. And not taking anything away from Basel or from the galleries, but I just chose to do something different. And I think the world needs more powerful collaborations that are willing to push the envelope and not really follow the necessary rules that are laid out.”

Swizz’s connection to the art world goes beyond his own Dean Collection; he also joined the board of the Brooklyn Museum in October and has been curating at Basel for years.

“This is something that just has to happen,” he says. “Because if we’re not pushing the envelope, then who do we expect to do it? I think the most important part of the message is the give back factor. And the other part of the give back factor is having a brand like Bacardi supporting that. There’s no punch line, there’s no catch. This is a genuine thing.”

The No Commission Art Fair will be free and open to the public, while each night’s House Party will be free via RSVP.

“We totally connected on the need to help fuel the hustle and provide artists with a stage to showcase their passions,” says Zara Mirza, head of creative excellence at Bacardi. “Bacardi has a deep heritage in music and the arts, from Prohibition parties in Havana, Cuba in the 1920s to some of our more modern partnerships like the Untameable Artist Series.”

Artists showing at The No Commission Art Fair:
KAWS
BK The Artist
SWOON
Jenks Imaging
Cyrcle
David Choong Lee
D*Face
Wolfbat
Derrick Adams
HOXXOH
Doze Green
Dustin Yellin
Eddie Colla
Gabriel Dawe
Gordon Parks Foundation
Gregory Siff
Hebru Brantley
Hyon Gyon
Jaybo Monk
Jerome Lagarrigue
Jill Greenberg
Kehinde Wiley
Lyle Owerko
Maya Hayuk
Michael Kagan
Michael Vasquez
Mickalene Thomas
Sandra Chevrier
Sanford Biggers
Sean HRT
Shepard Fairey
So Youn Lee
Sue Tsai
Timothy Buwalda
Todd James
Tomokazu Matsuyama
Miss Van
CRYPTIK
Zio Zigler

Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys Introduce Son Genesis Ali

Swizz Beatz is introducing the world to his new son…

The 36-year-old half-Puerto Rican hip-hop artist and record producer and his wife-singer Alicia Keys have shared the first photos of their new baby boy, Genesis Ali Dean.

Swizz Beatz Family Photo

Swizz Beats (real name Kasseem Dean) and the R&B singer posted images of their new child to Instagram Friday wishing blessings and love.

Genesis Ali Dean was born on December 27, 2014.

Swizz Beatz Family Photo

Keys and Dean have been married since 2010. Genesis Ali is their second child together, following their 4-year-old son Egypt Daoud.

Dean has three other children from previous relationships.