“No One” is getting between Alicia Keys and her music producer husband Swizz Beatz. Whether she’s hosting the Grammys, popping up on a virtual graduation ceremony, or releasing her latest album ALICIA, her musical husband will be lending support. Below, eight facts to know about the Grammy-nominated performer, who has worked on songs for everyone from Beyoncé to Whitney Houston.
He’s a major hip-hop producer.
Swizz Beats is a sought-after producer with six Grammy nominations to his name. He won the prize in 2010 for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for “On To The Next One” with Jay-Z. But he’s also collaborated with major stars such as Beyoncé’ for “Ring the Alarm,” Whitney Houston on “Million Dollar Bill,” and Lil Wayne on 2018’s “Uproar.”
Born Kasseem Dean in New York City, the music mogul began his career as a DJ before selling his first beat to DMX for the hit “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” in 1998.
He and Alicia Keys have been married for 10 years.
Swizz and Keys have been married since 2010 and were first linked to each other in 2008. However, the pair initially met as teenagers, when she was 16 and he was 17. Keys would later tell Marie Claire U.K. (via Us Weekly) that it wasn’t exactly love at first sight.
“Honestly, I didn’t really like him that much,” she told the outlet. “I thought he was too ostentatious. Swizz will have the fastest car, the biggest jewelry, the loudest jacket. Everything with him is really over the top. I used to see him and think, ‘He is so annoying.'”
This impression even impacted their ability to work together. “I fought it tooth and nail,” she told Marie Claire. “Why should I work with him? Finally, though, we did it and we had a ball.”
Recently, Swizz paid tribute to Keys on their 10-year wedding anniversary, “1 full decade of love & life wow🖤 Never raised our voice at each other in 10yrs wow🖤 Thank you for everything my love 🙏🏽 you’re truly everything my Love🖤 I wish us 100 more yes plus inshallah 🤲🏾 Happy 10yr anniversary Queen Dean 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽#10yrsDean 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽”
They share two kids.
Keys and Swizz share two sons together: 9-year-old Egypt and 5-year-old Genesis.
For the most recent Mother’s Day, Swizz posted a sweet tribute to Keys. “Happy super Mother’s Day to this super Queen 🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹 Thank you for everything you do it’s beyond out of this world 💖 Love you keep shinning Goddess 🤲🏾 #happymothersday❤️ around the world 🥂,” a captioned a series of photos featuring Keys and their children.
Swizz inspires and supports Keys’ music.
The husband and wife often support each other’s musical efforts. In August 2018, Swizz shared a photo of himself and Keys with the caption, “Attention all MEN‼️ You shouldn’t be jealous or upset if you have a Queen that’s successful , Smarter or better than you! What you should do is thank the most high or step your game up! I can’t stand when I see brothers jealous of the lady they’re with that shit is very weak!!!!! #Realtalk Lady’s keep doing you 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽 #aliciakeys #ladys #queens #goddess.”
In the lead-up to Keys’ latest album, Swizz regularly posted about the release. A few days after it entered the world, he shared a sweet video of the pair working out, set to a track from the record. “When your wife wakes you up at 6am to workout but you love her and you went to bed at 5am and can’t say no👀👀👀 authors are forever of the new @aliciakeys album it’s a BOP🤷🏽♂️ #aliciakeys” he wrote alongside the video.
When Swizz isn’t hyping Keys’ music, he’s helping inspire her lyrics. In 2016, Keys released a song titled “Blended Family,” in reference to Swizz’s children from previous relationships. Keys is a stepmother to his children Kasseem “KJ” Dean, with his ex-wife, Mashonda Tifrere; Prince Nasir Dean, with Nicole Levy; and daughter Nicole with Zhanna Andrianova. During an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Keys said, “I feel like ‘the family’ is such a beautiful and diverse unit and—as we’ve all experienced—our families come in all different sizes and shapes and versions.”
The couple navigated quarantine together.
While social distancing, many had to learn how to work near their partner or give them a haircut. Swizz took it a step further on April 14 when he removed the gel manicure from his wife’s nails. He posted the video to Instagram, writing, ” Quarantine Day 33 😳 I think everyone will come out of this more handy and crafty 100% 😂😂😂 #Deans FYI I was joking.” In the video, Keys walks Swizz through the process of soaking the nails and filing the polish down.
Swizz even shared a photo of the pair dressed up in front of their home’s artwork, showing how they still set aside special together time.
“On way to 1st Date night since Covid 🙏🏽 #TheDeans ……” he captioned the post.
He’s a Harvard alum.
Swizz is interested in both the arts and academics. In 2014, he graduated from Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management executive program, per Billboard. To commemorate the accomplishment, Swizz shared a photo from his childhood graduation.
“Today I will become Harvard alumni and although I’m not getting an ‘MBA’ no one can EVER take this accomplishment away from me 🙏🏽 I was suppose to be gone a long time ago according to some of my old teachers 🙂 This one is for you! Blessings!🙏🏽 Never shoot people’s dreams down because you don’t have your own!!!!” Swizz wrote in an Instagram post.
During a 2013 interview with Wendy Williams, Keys said her husband’s intelligence was one of the things that most attracted her to him. “I think what happened was, he really got me when I saw how far his mind went,” she explained. “He’s really, really intelligent and knows so many interesting things. He knew all this stuff I had no idea about. I think that he loves to live life and he really showed me how to live life in a beautiful way.”
He’s an art collector.
As if getting his degree, making music, and raising a family weren’t enough, Swizz is also a purveyor of the arts. In August 2019, it was reported that Keys and Swizz would open an arts center in upstate New York. According to ArtNetNews, the pair’s center will be influenced by artists they collect including Kehinde Wiley, Nina Chanel Abney, Arthur Jafa, KAWS, and Deana Lawson. The couple also co-chair the Gordon Parks Foundation, which preserves the work of the titular photographer and musician.
In December 2023, it was announced that some of their art would be on display in a new show at the Brooklyn Museum. Opening in February, the show is called Giants, and it will be the first time the Dean Collection will view to the public, according to Hypebeast.
The press release from Brooklyn Museum said the title illustrates the “strengths and bonds between the Deans and the artists they support,” adding that the exhibition will encourage “giant conversations.”
“Swiss Beatz and Alicia Keys have been among the most vocal advocates for Black creatives to support Black artists through their collecting, advocacy, and partnerships,” said Brooklyn Museum director, Anne Pasternak.
Among the 40 artists represented in the show are names like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Meleko Mokgosi, Jamel Shabazz, Derrick Adams, and Arthur Jafa.
Savannah Walsh is an Editorial Fellow at ELLE.com.