While you’re probably not too familiar with the name Kasseem Dean, you most definitely know Swizz Beatz if your ear is at all in tune to music, and they’re one in the same. What you might also not know is that the Bronx-born Dean has his toes dipped in many other arenas besides music, where his ridiculously impressive resume includes collaborations with Jay Z, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, DMX, Whitney Houston, Kanye West, Bono, and many others. Try to wrap your mind around this – he’s contributed to the sale of more than 320 million records in the U.S. alone! His love of art (he’s an avid painter and collector) led him to found The Dean Collection, which is a contemporary art family collection, and No Commission, a three-day immersive music festival and contemporary art fair that helps support artists around the globe. His creative intuition has fostered collaborations with brands like Audemars Piguet, Reebok, Christian Louboutin, Aston Martin, and Lotus, and just last year, he was appointed the Global Chief Creative of Culture for Bacardi. He’s also a Trustee of the Brooklyn Museum and is currently a student in Harvard Business School’s Owner/President’s Management Program. Plus, he’s killing it on Instagram one post at a time. Let’s kick off 2017’s Friday Five column with a bang and see what Swizz Beatz selected for his five picks.
As one of the main cultural epicenters in Europe, London has multiple demonstrations of the amazing journey from street art to fine art. No Commission: London was the stamp of approval on No Commission as a broad concept. It happened in a different country at a unique, unexpected time. When something has legs and power it doesn’t matter the time or place. To position NC in the UK and for the results to have been so positive was mind-blowing. London is a great place to discover if you have something solid. The attitude is very raw, hands-on and real, it’s hard to please that crowd. We saw all walks of life with love for creativity in that room— from the streets to leaders of art, music, fashion, finance… many industries. It was a major coup and blessing for us.
All the artists who’ve participated in No Commission from day one have been great collaborators. With London specifically, D*Face was integral, my go-to guy. He has the respect of his artist community, he’s on the ground, he’s from there. No Commission was a visitor and D*Face offered his help. He brought together a great group of artists who whole-heartedly embraced us because he endorsed our ideas.
3. Nina Chanel Abney’s Untruth
I’m excited about Nina Chanel Abney’s Untruth. I like that I can relate to Nina, we get on the phone and chat like we live in the same building. Then you watch her career and artistic output lifting to the next level, but she’s still relatable. Collectors should be able to relate to the expression of the works they’re accumulating. I’m not buying Nina because I’ll drool over her prices in ten years, I’m buying Nina because of what I feel from her right now. The collection is for my kids anyway, so mentally it’s not even mine once it comes through the doors.
4. A$AP Rocky
A$AP Rocky is a star. He’s a hometown NY hero and came through big time for our No Commission: Bronx project. He’s an emblem of the standards of the future, a young polymath. He’s got music, fashion and film under his belt… a bright career ahead of him.
5. Michael Dolan, CEO of Bacardi, Limited
The role of brands in the future of creativity depends heavily on the makeup of a specific brand. Bacardi has a great CEO at the helm, Michael Dolan. He comes from the creative realm and understands the creative process maybe more than most brand CEOs, which makes his collaboration real and honest. A lot of brands have money, power and influence but they lack an understanding of artistic freedom and cultural know-how, which is imperative for those kinds of partnerships to thrive. You can tell if a project is paid or real. I’m sure people register that No Commission’s partnership with Bacardi is real. In three shows we’ve put almost $3 million back into the hands of artists, no strings attached. Other brands can look at No Commission as a model, try a hybrid, and still miss the point. Brands should keep on message—find the core identity, pull from it and stay true to that. The Bacardi family has been collecting art for over 100 years, it’s natural for them to support our platform.