Rolling Out

Swizz Beatz talks hip-hop and art culture at Bacardi’s No Commission exhibit during Art Basel

Photo: A.R. Shaw for Steed Media

Swizz Beatz continues to be a prominent voice in the art world. The producer/DJ curated a selection of art at SCOPE in 2014 and collaborated with Bacardi for the free No Commission Fair during Art Basel.

The Dean Collection exhibit featured several top and emerging artists from across the country and the concert series featured performances by Alicia Keys, Pusha T, Swizz Beatz and DMX.

During the event, Swizz Beatz sat down with rolling out to share his thoughts on hip hop and art and the No Commission fair during Art Basel.

What should people know about your collaboration with Bacardi during Art Basel?
The Dean Collection and Bacardi House Party was a live and direct No Commission art fair. It’s the only art fair that is giving the artists 100 percent of what they sell and giving back to the people with a no commission concert. Drinks all night, fun all night, and performances all night. It’s a true celebration of art. This is what people come down here for so let’s not hold back on that experience. People want to find out how they can be a part of these different things from a musical level, from an artistic level or just an observational level. So I think that we’re here making miracles this time.

How did you select the featured artists in the exhibit?
A lot of the artists that I picked for this show were in the Dean Collection and others were discovered on Instagram. When you have artists like Kehinde Wiley and Mickalene Thomas, you have people that are in museums and doing big things. But you also have up-and-coming artists, which I thought was an amazing play because it goes with the Bacardi house party, where you have up-and-coming people sharing the stage with established artists. Even if this never happens again, we’ve changed the tide of how art should be celebrated in a very authentic way.

Let’s talk about art in hip hop. How does art continue to influence hip hop culture?
Those lines are made to run parallel on a global scale … from the beginning of time, music and art went together. It’s just that the businesses separated [them], so you have the art business and you have the music business that kind of separated those two. I felt it was important to bring that back in our celebration so people can really get to see what that really feels like in the most genuine way. It’s very hard to find a partnership that really understands that. That’s why the Bacardi and Dean Collection partnership is so powerful because you have the Bacardi family who have a heritage of collecting art for over 150 years. It’s hard to do an honest partnership like this when you have so many artists involved and so much creativity involved. It’s like how do you manage that and stay true? But we were able to and are having fun.

If you could pose one question to the hip hop community as it relates to art, what would be that question?
I don’t even know how to think just hip hop, because there are so many different emerging genres of music that are happening right now. So, if I was to give a message to the music culture about art, I would ask them when was the last time that they’ve seen something visual that stimulated them in a painting form or a photograph form? Also, how would you go about continuing your journey? How do you channel your feeling and love for what you see with the art in the most positive way?

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