Swizz Beatz has rather a lot occurring: Not solely is he co-founder of Verzuz, the favored on-line DJ battle sequence, he’s a profitable music producer (Jay-Z, Nas, DMX), he’s married to Alicia Keys and the 2 of them have constructed a formidable artwork assortment.
Having mentioned Verzuz at size with him earlier this yr, we reached out, figuring he’d be recreation to speak in regards to the just-announced second season of the sequence he began with fellow hitmaker Timbaland, which has grow to be a lockdown phenomenon, drawing thousands and thousands of viewers watching artists and producers, from Brandy vs. Monica to Snoop Dogg vs. DMX, go head-to-head taking part in their hits.
Though he gave some clues about Verzuz Season 2 — it’s prone to begin very quickly and we should always count on the sudden (“You’ll guess the primary one, however you’ll by no means guess the following 5”) — Swizz has a special form of competitors in thoughts.
Camel racing. Severely.
Bronx-born Swizz Beatz (actual identify: Kaseem Dean) will not be solely the primary African-American however the first Westerner to personal a camel-racing workforce based mostly within the Center East. His workforce — Kaseem Abu Nasser, comprised of 12 quick camels — received its first race on Thursday in Saudi Arabia, and whereas this story was being written on Friday, it received one other — fortuitously, on the identical day he launched the hyperlink to his Kaseem Abu Nasser merchandise at http://www.thechinatownmarket.com
And if it appears in some way out of character, Swizz is but once more proving to be an innovator in addition to a world ambassador.
Swizz spoke completely to Selection about his camel-driven feats.
Are you having fun with the fun of victory?
Yeah. The race was at 5:15 a.m. my time, which signifies that I haven’t been to sleep since yesterday. As soon as the race was over, the adrenaline began pumping another time. However then, the youngsters need to go to high school, so you need to get them prepared. I’ve been on a cloud of pleasure ever since.
The place was the race that you simply received?
The races occur in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi – everywhere in the Center East. It was wonderful, although, to win the race in Saudi Arabia, as a result of my stables are in [the capital] Riyadh. To win your first race – your solely race to date – in racing’s house is loopy. We had been in eighth place for a very long time after the race first began. Then Nicole — the camel named after my daughter — simply went for it. Wow. What are the percentages? No workforce has ever received their very own race — neglect about me being from America, a Westerner. No Saudi workforce ever received their first race. What’s humorous, although, is that there are Arab and English variations of the race which you can watch, and when the announcer was yelling, “Nicole, Nicole is displaying up. Miracles can occur!,” my daughter was freaking out. Speak about screaming and yelling — my voice is gone. (See video of the race under, after the advert.)
What made you need a camel workforce to start with?
I had it in my thoughts for thus lengthy. My pals on the market have groups, pals’ mother and father’ households in Dubai have groups. That’s how I had entry to realizing what to search for, choose your fleet, perceive the bloodline, discover one of the best trainers. I did intensive analysis and was there for a month straight doing it. I had the heads-up for some time however didn’t push the button till COVID. It sounded huge, wonderful and lots of work, however I simply wished to do it. It feels prefer it got here quick, however it was a protracted course of.
Are you able to supply a tip about purchase an awesome racing camel?
Before you purchase camels, you get to watch them. There’s check races the place you will get to grasp the perspective of the camels. Say, for example, you’re seeing a camel out of the blue go from the best lane to all the best way throughout to the left — you possibly can inform that that camel has a nasty perspective. That may not be your finest camel out of the gate. You need a camel that’s centered, that listens to instructions. You need camels from nice houses and breeders. They get handled very properly — wonderful meals, massages. Camels need to really feel the love to provide the love. You possibly can’t have stressed-out camels in a race. Camels are sacred over there.
How had been you capable of enter this race as a first-time workforce proprietor so shortly?
That’s the factor, it wasn’t that fast. I’ve stored it quiet till I understood the whole lot that I needed to in regards to the camels and racing. I did my homework. That stated, that is one thing I used to be at all times focused on. Any time I’m going to the Center East, I see camel racing. I come again dwelling and by no means see something in regards to the sport. Watching them race, it’s at all times a celebration — just like the NBA. I began realizing the groups by their jackets and the coverings that the camels had on. I bought to know the groups, their reputations. So for my birthday, I had a purpose: to make it occur, to purchase a workforce. This was one thing my complete household may take part in.
How will we all know your workforce once we see it?
That’s straightforward, the Ruff Ryder “R” [referencing the label Swizz came up on, with DMX, Eve and others]. I did that on function so that individuals would know me.
What are the tracks like?
There aren’t tracks, per se. Simply roads – lengthy strips [around five miles, with camels running between 25 and 40 MPH that are regulated as a track. My trainer and jockey are riding in a car on the side, everybody’s jockey is riding on the side, the other side of the highway, going in the same direction as the camels in open desert. The race goes on for six minutes. There are 14 rounds. My race this morning was in the third round, the one for the gold cup. To win the gold cup your first time up is also bananas.
Do the jockeys ride on the camels’ backs?
No — there are robot backpacks that go on the back of the camels. I love that there is technology involved. Previously, it was just like horse racing, where you had a jockey on the camel’s back, but that slows them down. Now, my jockey and trainer can speak to the camel during the race through a walkie-talkie in the backpack. That’s how you give the commands. My backpack has the Ruff Ryders logo on it, and there’s a microphone in there giving the camel direction. It’s like telling a dog during training, “Sit down.” It’s serious stuff.
Has your family hung out with the camels?
They actualy haven’t met the camels or been with me during visits, due to COVID. I’ve named all of the camels after my family members – my mother, my grandmother, my wife, my children and me. I also named one of the camels, ‘Bronx,” as that is where I started. It’s a nice reminder. There’s a family element to the whole venture. My camels’ trainer, he’s treating my camels like he would another family member. He kisses the camels on the mouth. That’s real love. And the news media is all over this team over there. So much love.
Do crowds and trainers know who you are?
They don’t know. They keep saying “Kaseem Abu Nasser” from the U.S. My oldest son is Nasser, my name is Kaseem, and the team stands for “Son of Kaseem.” It’s not on any of my sites either. Not one news clip. You’re the first.
You created merch for the Kaseem Abu Nasser team with Chinatown Market, the LA streetwear brand who’s worked with LeBron James, Puma and Converse. How did you use your previous merchandising know-how for camel racing gear? There’s not much precedent for this here.
When I was going through this, I wanted people to have fun with it, make it a lifestyle and not just a sport. At first, I wanted a higher-end brand, but knowing people would laugh at me for having a camel racing team — friends thinking I’m crazy — I wanted something with character and that was accessible. Chinatown Market embraced that. They’re not afraid to do quirky things. Plus, my family got involved, and it was almost as if we were doing arts-and-crafts together, rather than just be something you go “okay” and sign off on without seeing.
You say friends might think you’re crazy, but I’ll bet Jay-Z is looking to buy a camel team right now.
That’s funny. Jay wrote this morning to congratulate me and said, “Goddamn, we’re really global now.” Nas phoned right after him to do likewise. Look, people know that I like to be disruptive. That’s what I have fun doing. If it’s something that everybody else is about, you’re going to have a hard time getting me to be excited. Once I knew that no one else on this side had ever done it, that we could have fun and educate people about the culture, that’s how I knew it was for me. My idea of forwarding the culture is that we can be anywhere we want. Learning about cultures and traditions other than our own can forward ours even more. It’s like liking an artist that no one knows. At first you’re afraid to admit it, then all of your friends co-sign it. You liked it all along, but you had to be cool about it. Our culture does that a lot, but that’s okay. You have to stay on the journey and look toward family and fulfillment.
What’s next? More races?
I have four more races coming up this week. Up at 5 a.m.! My wife, Alicia, is racing tomorrow, and so is my grandmother, Mabel. My mother is funny. She wanted to know how we picked the names for each camel. She wanted to know which camel was faster than hers, or if I went and gave her a slow camel. She’s hilarious. It’s a male and female thing. It doesn’t work like that, Mom.
Looking at something like Verzuz and how you and Timbaland turned that into a phenomenon, is camel racing something you’d like to introduce here?
I was thinking about that. Never say never, right? What I like about camel racing is that people could be familiar with the concept from horse racing, but in its purest form, wouldn’t it be nice to make it a goal, to go and see it in its natural setting? Or a bucket list item? Go to a desert, experience it for real? I want the culture to explore. That’s how I got here, and what brought me to a global mindset.