HOW BIZZY IS SWIZZ BEATZ? He’s a Grammy-winning super-producer, art world A-lister, self-made fashion mogul, part-owner of Kid Robot and his name alone is worth 42 Scrabble points! Aside from writing tracks for Beyonce, few would know that Swizz, aka Kasseem Dean, is currently also creative director at Reebok. Tearing a page from the Book of Yeezy, Swizz has just unleashed his own hightop upon the world – the Kamikaze. A homage to Shawn Kemp’s brazen ‘90s baller of the same name, this new joint is all about bridging the Bok’s hardwood heritage with today’s trend setters. We caught up with the man himself to find out how he’s putting the Swizzle back in Reebok’s stick.
Yeah, that was the thing, taking something that was in the line already that had history and put it on people’s radar again in a special way. That goes for everything we’re doing. The Kamikaze isn’t a Swizz Beatz sneaker per se. I’m more involved in the whole company. As creative director for Reebok Global it’s about bringing things to life, bringing art and fashion into it to a point where we create the hunger for more... We’re going to shock the world!
Reebok seems to be getting its swagger back. What’s the feeling like at the brand?
I think the attitude of the company is amazing. I mean everybody’s driven, everybody’s hungry, everybody wants to win. It’s like a family, and that’s why it is such a cool partnership. Unlike other brands that have so many established heavy hitters we’re doing something new... the sky’s the limit over here. They’re definitely taking more of the risk, which is a big eye-opener for me.
Speaking of eye-openers – the shiny Kamikazes – were they some I dream of Jeanie joints! Are we going to see those on the shelves?
They’re going to be available. They have to be available, you know!
Is that the kind of thing you’re into?
Yes, that’s my personal style. Yeah, I love being out there. You got to push the envelope. At the end of the day you’ve got to do things different and you can’t push the envelope if you’re scared of colours or fabrics. It’s just art at the end of the day, and you’ve got to be able to express that art.
Speaking of art, you’re a pretty versatile guy – how deep are your artistic roots?
I consider myself a student of the art world. I have friends like Brainwash, I studied with Ernie Barnes, I was mentored by Tony Shafrazi. A lot of people don’t know my art background. I plan on telling that story with the launch of our Basquiat Art campaign.
What is it about Basquiat’s art that captures your imagination?
It’s the conviction that went into it, the dedication, the background, which is love for music. You can see all these different things in his art. It’s like ‘Man you’re sitting here, smoking weed, chilling out in the street, hanging with Fab Five Freddy’, but you’re also reading books and studying crazy stuff like anatomy. And that’s genius to have all those skills and all of that knowledge and say ‘You know what, I’m just going to paint. It was like ‘I’m just having fun.’It was passion.
That’s the road map you’re following in life?
Absolutely. Everything I do is based off a passion. If you don’t have a passion for something, you can’t give it your all. You have to be about more than just a cheque. It has to be a lot of passion, about making history. And anytime I do things I try to make history.
Let’s look ahead to future history. Can you share any other hints of what we might be seeing this year with the Kamikaze?
To get a sneak peek go to swizzworld.com, check the section on Living and you can see some exclusives. The global culture is hungry for something new... We’re just about surprising everybody, taking the competition and the fans by surprise and the design side of it, the art side of it, taking it by surprise. We’re just letting the world know that the brand is something to be reckoned with again and I just can’t wait until the time comes when everybody’s signing up and lining up to be involved with Reebok!
As seen in Sneaker Freaker Issue 21