Strange things about Alicia Keys’ marriage
Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys and rapper-producer Swizz Beatz (real name Kasseem Dean) are one of the music industry’s longest-lasting couples. Best known for an endless list of hits, including “Fallin’,” “If I Ain’t Got You,” and “Girl on Fire,” Keys is also a celebrated humanitarian. Throughout her career, the former judge of The Voice has worked to end HIV/AIDS worldwide through her Keep a Child Alive foundation. The musician has received a number of accolades for her musical endeavors and activist work, including over a dozen Grammys and BET’s Humanitarian Award. Beatz is a Grammy Award-winning artist who’s enjoyed an esteemed career of his own since the late ’90s, producing hip hop, R&B, and pop records for the likes of DMX, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and his very own wife. This multi-talent has also released his own work, most notably his 2018 album Poison, and graduated from Harvard Business School in 2017.
Basically, these two are unstoppable forces in a multitude of fields. But how much do you really know about their longtime romance? Keep on scrolling to learn some of the strangest facts about Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz’s marriage.
Their awkward meet-cute
Keys and Beatz came up in the music industry together after first meeting in their teens through one of his high school friends who knew Keys’ management, according to the Daily Mail. But the two didn’t necessarily hit it off at first. “Honestly, I didn’t really like him that much,” Keys told Marie Claire UK in 2013 (via Us Weekly). “I thought he was too ostentatious.” She added, “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.'” Um, yikes? Keys even fought “tooth and nail” with her management to avoid collaborating with her future husband for years, but she added, “Finally, though, we did it and we had a ball.”
So, what eventually won Keys over? “He’s really, really intelligent and knows so many interesting things,” she said on The Wendy Williams Show, adding, “I think he’s really showed me how to, like, live life in a beautiful way.” Their courtship may have been the slowest of slow burns, but it was well worth the wait. “It does still burn,” the singer-songwriter told the Daily Mail. “And it’s beautiful.”
Their allegedly shady beginnings
Keys and Beatz have been together since at least the fall of 2008 (via People), but the rumor mill has long claimed that they began dating while the record producer was still technically married to his ex-wife, R&B singer Mashonda. The former couple, who share son Kasseem Dean, Jr., had separated earlier that same year. However, the murky timing of Keys and Beatz’s blossoming romance quickly devolved into tabloid fodder that the producer had left Tifrere to pursue a relationship with Keys.
For his part, Beatz denied these cheating rumors on multiple occasions to the press, before he and Keys went public with their relationship (via MTV News). According to Bustle, Keys and Beatz first appeared to confirm their couple status in 2008, when Keys threw Beatz a surprise birthday party at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Months later, he tellingly referenced the event in a rap verse on a remix of Drake’s “Best I Ever Had” in 2009. “She gave me a party at the Guggenheim,” Beatz rapped, adding, “What’s next? The ring? The baby? She really loves me.”
The other side of the love triangle
After Keys and Beatz finally confirmed their relationship, Tifrere told her side of the story in an open letter to her ex-husband’s new lady love on Twitter, further fueling rumors surrounding the allegedly suspect timing of the pair’s romance. “My concern with [Keys] is no longer the fact that she assisted in destroying a family but that she has the audacity to make these selfish comments about love and wanting to be with someone, even after knowing their situation,” Tifrere wrote, in part, in her lengthy post (via Vibe). “I feel that after [one] and a half years of you hiding this affair and acting like it [doesn’t] exist, that now is the time to confront it, since you talk so openly about it now.”
After years of silence on the matter, Keys addressed the homewrecker allegation during an interview with Jet magazine in 2012. “[They] were apart for some time before we ever got together,” she said at the time (via Bustle). “That doesn’t matter to those who take pleasure in trying to knock others down … there’s no need to fight what’s not true.”
They married the same year he got divorced
Amid this ongoing speculation of an affair, Beatz and Tifrere finalized their divorce in May 2010 (via the New York Daily News). Meanwhile, the rapper-producer’s slow-burn romance with Keys became official when the two tied the knot that July on the French island of Corsica, according to People. “Everything was just wow, it was a blessing,” Beatz told Access Hollywood while gushing about their big day. “It was positive energy, and we’re still in those moments.”
The newlyweds began expanding their family not long afterwards. That October, Keys gave birth to their first child together, son Egypt. The happy couple welcomed baby no. 2, son Genesis Ali, in December 2014 (via Us Weekly). As reported by Page Six, Beatz is also dad to two children from previous relationships, sharing Prince Nasir (born in 2000) with Nicole Levy, son Kasseem Jr. (born in 2006) with Tifrere, and daughter Nicole (born in 2008) with Jahna Sebastian. “Kasseem is very present in his children’s lives,” Keys told Essence in 2011 (via the Daily Mail). “I wouldn’t be able to love him otherwise.”
Learning to co-parent their blended family
After a very public rocky start, it understandably took years for Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, and Mashonda Tifrere to consciously overcome their differences and ultimately become friends for the sake of their young children. However, the loving and healthy environment of their blended family took a lot of time and effort. “It wasn’t easy. It was a roller coaster ride,” Tifrere said during the trio’s joint interview with ABC News in 2018. The singer-turned-author documented this journey in her book, Blend: The Secret to Co-Parenting and Creating a Balanced Family, which notably included a forward by Keys and a chapter by Beatz. “[People] see us here now, loving each other, co-existing, and getting along, but there’s a whole middle that they didn’t see,” Tifere told ABC News. “And that’s where we all put the work in.”
Thankfully, it was well worth the hard work. Keys, who famously used 2016’s “Blended Family” to “celebrate” her husband’s ex-wife, chimed in with, “We love each other. We hang out with each other. We go to dinner together. Our family is one big, beautiful family.” She added, “We’re very, very proud of that. It’s a real thing, and it’s possible.”
Balancing each other out
It’s no secret that one of the biggest issues most couples face is money. However, the combination of Beatz’s extravagant lifestyle and Keys’ general frugality is one of the surprising keys to their successful relationship. “My wife is definitely better than me with money,” the acclaimed producer told CNBC Make It in 2018. “Are you kidding me?” Noting that she isn’t “materialistic,” he explained, “That’s why we work, because I’m the Rolls Royce, she’s like, ‘Where’s the bike at?'”
“I think that us being the opposite with money makes us compatible, because it balances,” Beatz continued, adding, “If we’re both extreme, we’re going to have to work like 10 times harder, right?” While we can’t necessarily argue against that logic, it might help that Keys doesn’t mind spending money on her man. According to TMZ, the singer-songwriter surprised Beatz with an Aston Martin luxury car in celebration of his 40th birthday in 2018. No big deal.
In addition to how they handle their money and their respective musical styles, Keys and Beatz differ in a number of ways. However, as the old saying goes, opposites attract — and, in this couple’s case, that’s certainly true.
“We’re very different from each other. Totally night and day just in how we kind of conceptualize creative moments,” Keys told Market Watch in 2019, adding, “He brings a lot out of me that I probably wouldn’t find. And same on his side!” This dynamic has not only shaped their relationship, but has also forced each party to learn and grow as the married pair continues to approach life as a team. “I think we’ve taught each other a lot,” she previously told Marie Claire UK (via Us Weekly). “He’s taught me to live more fully, and I think I’ve taught him to live more deeply.”
Ultimately, the number one thing Keys and Beatz have in common is their shared love of music. “Well, for me … music is the instrument of life,” the rapper-producer told CBS News during the couple’s first-ever joint TV interview in 2018. Unsurprisingly, his wife emphatically agreed, saying, “I feel like … music is the — it’s the answer. It’s the reason.” She continued, “It’s so powerful. That’s why we all love it. That’s why we can’t live without it.”
As undeniable forces in the music industry, Keys and Beatz both received the Producers & Engineers Wing Award at the Grammys in 2018. But beyond music and their beautiful family life, their collaborations have reached even wider scopes. Through The Dean Collection, these musicians have also made their stamp in art. By collecting works created by contemporary artists of color from around the world, this philanthropic organization aims to not only keep this art alive, but to also make it accessible.
“People need to see this type of greatness to inspire themselves,” Beatz told Cultured Magazine in 2018. “The collection started not just because we’re art lovers, but also because there’s not enough people of color collecting artists of color,” he said. “We don’t own enough of our culture.” While previously discussing their continuous collaborations with Access Hollywood in 2010, Beatz explained, “Anybody that’s brilliant can just connect to another mind,” noting, “Our chemistry is just a simple flow.”
The makings of a successful marriage
In an industry where brutal celeb breakups have unfortunately become the norm, longtime relationships like that of Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz are an undeniable anomaly. Since overcoming adversity early on in their romance, these two have become one of the most iconic power couples in the music biz. So, what makes their marriage work?
From sweetly celebrating anniversaries to proudly cheering each other on at the Grammys, this celeb pairing has learned from their previous failed relationships. “I think the most important thing in any relationship is presence,” Keys told Billboard in 2016. “Being present and really choosing to make the time and take the time for the people that you love.” For his part, Beatz later told Cultured Magazine, “We don’t fight, we don’t raise our voices,” adding, “It’s all about communication.” He explained, “Where I’m weak, she’s strong — and vice versa. We always talk about how we don’t own each other … but we come together and have this amazing family.” Relationship goals? Check!