[INTERVIEW] SWIZZ BEATZ
From Ruff Ryders to Jay Z, Viper talk to an icon in the rap industry, Swizz Beatz.
Legendary producer Swizz Beatz returns with his new album ‘Poison’. He doesn’t need much of an introduction, just know ‘It’s Showtime.’ We caught up with the iconic producer and discussed his latest album as well as his views on hip-hop today. Check out our interview and his latest album below.
Talk to me about the name of the new project and the artwork you chose for it.
There’s so much going on in the world. A lot of people feel that they ignore what’s going by just turning their head and saying ”Oh this is not happening to me or oh we can’t do nothing anyway.” So we run away from the poison instead of facing the poison in order to poise on.
I chose Clean Peterson who is the artist of the work. I own the original of the cover. So I was walking in the house, and I looked at the painting and I was like ”Man this is poison.” Then when I studied the painting I was like, ”This is disruptive too.” They’re not expecting me to come with something that’s bold like this. But you know what, this is where I’m at with the record.
The record is a hardcore record and I want to start from the bottom. I didn’t want to just go to the penthouse based on the accolades and things I’ve done already. I wanted to start from the bottom and rebuild the foundation with the quality of music and actually [focus] on how I’m picking the artists.
Every artist that’s on my album, the way they made the cut was either they had to deliver the best that you know them or above what you know them for. That was the criteria for making it on this album. There’s no compromising. I wanted to just start at the bottom and make people feel the poison in order to poise on because my next album is an RnB album.
And then from there we go into an all energy album and turn it to showtime. Then from there we go into ‘Global Mindset’ which is international artists only and then we go back to ‘Poison 2’, ‘Beauty and the Beats 2’, ‘Return of the Showtime 2’, ‘Global Mindset 2’ and then keep it. That was the way I was able to narrow down the project and really keep it tight. Take songs that were too crossover or songs that didn’t fit and make it a body of work-uncompromised. This album is uncompromised from beginning to end.
I read that you had about 70 songs in the pool of tracks for this album and you cut it down to 10. Are a lot of those tracks that didn’t make this project now going to be used in upcoming projects you plan to release over the next few years?
Yep! We coming. We not even waiting that long. When we felt like ‘Poison’ had its time – bam we come in with that one. We feel like each album has its time and we’ve done everything, we’ve maxed out. We’re going to keep it moving. Now, this is a different train. I’m just starting. Everything I did before was just a warm-up. People are going to really soon understand that I’m just starting at 40.
I started at 17/18 but I’m just really starting at 40 because I actually know what I’m doing and I’m actually in real control of all of it. So now they’re going to be able to see the uncut and get it. I don’t have to over think it anymore. I actually know how to really do what I want to do. Even down to how I want things to feel, sound, timing, approach, strategy. Yeah. They’re in trouble.
This feature list might be one of the craziest of the year. You’ve even got Giggs on there. How did that collaboration come about?
Giggs is like family to me. I actually spoke to Giggs this morning already. He reminds me of DMX. His energy reminded me of DMX when I first heard him. I was like ”Man who’s this guy with this voice.” He has this dark energy but he’s still super cool on the inside, that’s DMX. Then I was working with RnB artist from the UK – Angel and I told him I wanted to meet Giggs and he hooked us up. From that point, it’s been no returning back. Once again, going back to what I said for the album.
The UK is my first home outside of the states and I just needed some representation but it has to be somebody that’s lyrically going crazy. When you hear the record with Giggs on my album… He never wanted to stop rapping. And that’s a good thing because with this album there’s no formal way to any songs. You might think a chorus is going to come in but it never comes in. Or when a chorus comes in you’re not expecting it. I didn’t give the artists no rules on the structure.
I didn’t care about the structure because it’s like ”Let the artists create. Let the creatives create.” Don’t put rules like ”The chorus’ gotta go here for it to be a big hit.” No man! How does it feel? All of the artists came with passion. They had the freedom that they probably don’t have on their own projects to just let go and that’s what was super cool about this.
Are you quite in touch with the current UK scene?
I’ve been in touch of the UK scene since I produced Ms Dynamite.
What are your view on the current state of Hip Hop today and who are your favourites of the new generation of artists?
It’s in a transitional point. I like it because a lot of young artists have an opportunity to make a living for themselves and do something positive. Even though a lot of them aren’t doing everything positive but they still have the chance to do something positive with their creativity. And for me, I feel it’s an open lane because what I have to bring to the table don’t exist.
Which is perfect timing for my album which is why both Wayne records feel the way that they feel in this current moment and even when I drop the Young Thug record it’s going to make people look at him in a different light. So to be able to come back in 2018 when I started in 98′ and still be a current conversation and still be able to mess with the youth and change up certain things that maybe they didn’t even know they could do, I think it’s very amazing.
And it’s the same reason why J Cole is executive producer on my album with me because you have to take my generation and mix it with this generation if we really want to have some quality out there that’s timeless. You can’t cut it off at a certain age point whether you’re older or younger. But he really did come and help me with a lot of things on my record to the point where it’s like ”He’s executive producing my album” because checking in with him with everything he’s checking in with me there’s a lot of things he wanted me to do that I did because it made sense. That’s the key. Does it make sense?
And as far as the new people I’m listening to. I listen to everybody. I don’t have a particular favourite. Plus, the way I listen to music is different. It’s not like a sit down and listen to Hip Hop music. I listen to music from everywhere. So one minute I’m like in one zone and the next second I’m in another zone so I don’t have a particular go-to favourite. But I’m paying attention to everybody and that’s just how I’m keeping it.
What would you tell a 16-year-old Swizz Beatz with the life experience you have now?
I would tell a 16-year-old to focus on their education if they want to get into music because it’s the ‘music business.’ A lot of us creatives we see the music part but we skip the business and then we end up doing all of different things. And then they happen for us but then it’s like we made it but we didn’t make it because we didn’t pay attention to the business and now you’ve got to start all over again. I would encourage everybody whatever industry they’re into just focus on the business. Fashion business, art business, music business.
Everything is a business. Why not learn the business side of the business. You’re in that business and you’re giving your life to that business, dedicating so much time to that business to actually not handle your business. That’s ridiculous. So this is the reason I went back to school in my 30’s because I knew I wasn’t equipped all the way to go forward on a level I want to compete on, business-wise, because I was missing so much information on that. But I sacrificed my 3 years to add another 20 to it.