Swizz Beatz Talks Painting, Michael Jackson, and Basquiat

Swizz Beatz Talks Painting, Michael Jackson, and Basquiat

Last week Wednesday (Aug. 29) Pepsi celebrated the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” album with a special tribute event at New York City’s Gotham Hall featuring DJ sets by Swizz Beatz and performances by Ne-Yo and Melanie Fiona.

Before Swizz took to the turntables, Mass Appeal spoke to the producer, businessman, and art aficionado about Michael Jackson, painting and his own love for the work of Jean-Michel Basquat.

Mass Appeal: You collaborate with artists like Jay-Z and Kanye West and with brands like Reebok and Lotus and, on top of that, you’re a father and a husband, when do you find time to paint?

Swizz Beatz: It’s just like finding time to go to the bathroom, you just gotta do it when it’s that time! The thing that’s cool is that I go in and I work on 20 pieces and then I’ll pull back for three months. Then I’ll go back and look at those 20 pieces, and they are different than I remembered. Then I’ll realize,“Wow, that moment left already.” That’s why art and music is so good; because you can trace moments in a way that’s [more] tangible than somebody saying something to you. It’s just different. It makes you wonder why [you do the things you do]. When I go back and look at the other paintings, I look at the life changing experiences. I identify my life through my paintings which makes it hard for me to sell my paintings. It feels like I’m giving away one of my moments.

But you’ve given some away to charity –

Yes! I have no problems with that. As far as selling my moments [for charity] I have to. The equal exchange for me is to take some of my moments to help someone else’s moments.

Can you tell us what it was like to be with Team USA Basketball in London this summer?

You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t part of the team! [Laughs] You know, I was part of the team that night and we won! I felt like I was part of the team. I thought it was amazing to be out there with a bunch of friends ‘cause I know 90% of the team. We partied like we were in New York!

What’s your favorite Michael Jackson song?

Aw, man! That’s hard! You know how hard that is? I give you “Beat It,” “Human Nature,” I give you so many! I give you “Bad,” which we’re celebrating tonight. I give you “Thriller,” a game changer from a fashion standpoint, an art direction standpoint, a musical standpoint— an all across the board game-changer. So was “Bad” on a theatrical side. “Smooth Criminal” was basically [a course on making movies] that tied in all the threads.