“Dear Men” is a weekly show hosted by Jason Rosario, creator of lifestyle media company the lives of men. “Dear Men” explores how men navigate the evolution of masculinity. You can watch the current week’s full episode every Wednesday at 8pm ET on Roku.
Iconic hip-hop producer and husband of Alicia Keys, swizz beatz, he is not afraid to tell his friends that he loves them. “They might think we’re really in love,” she joked. But it’s not something many men are necessarily comfortable with because showing emotion and being vulnerable with our friends is seen as a sign of weakness.
Swizz’s friends include some of the biggest names in hip-hop, like DMX, Jay-Z, and Nas, just to name a few. Swizz and I met in our shared hometown of the Bronx for the Yahoo news show “Dear Men” to talk about those deep connections and the brotherhood he shares with them.
“It has been a great journey to see how many people in the industry trust me and call me. Even though they’re older than me, I’m still the big brother,” he said. “It’s been an honor to help give more than take in this industry.”
A decades-spanning friendship is with rapper DMX, who was released from prison in January after serving a year for tax evasion. Recently, the two picked up where they left off in the best way they know how: making music together in the studio.
“We started our career and the world knew us together,” said Swizz. “So for me to put him out because of personal things that he’s dealing with, that’s not even part of my DNA.”
Brotherhood, love and raising a good man were all closely felt in the Beatz-Keys’ home. Swizz has five children, four of whom are boys. “For me, in my home, it’s really very open,” he said. “I get strict when I need to. You have to give kids space and time to navigate.”
Keys also recently released a single called “Raise a Man.” “She brought up a very important point where it’s like, how can you raise a man at a time when she’s not okay loving a man?” he said. “There are some people who do a couple of things that are horrible: all men are subjected to the same thing, but there are many great men, I know many of them, I am one myself. ”
When it comes to the great men she meets, especially in the hip-hop industry, Swizz says they need to be celebrated more, if only with a birthday card. “Sometimes our culture is crazy,” he said. “We are always there for the negativity… but where is the celebration of the positive things? I think our industry lacks that compassion, that love for one another.”
“In hip-hop we talk about billionaires and millionaires and all that, and nobody celebrates each other,” he said. “We’ve had tons of hits together, we’ve made history together, why don’t we throw ‘just because’ parties for each other?”
So I just urge us to celebrate each other a little bit more, because everyone else is celebrating each other. For me personally, having a group of guys I can lean on has been one of the most rewarding feelings of my life. These guys are like brothers to me, and we’ve been there to support each other through some of our highest and lowest moments. But, like any relationship, it takes time, effort, and a willingness to be vulnerable with each other as men to build those connections. You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends, and if you take care of them right, those friends can become family.