Why Swizz Beatz took a detour from hip-hop to embrace car culture

It’s a different kind of "showtime" for Swizz Beatz. The hip-hop legend and avid car enthusiast takes son Nasir Dean (also known as Note Marcato) around the world to visit car-loving destinations in their new docuseries Drive With Swizz Beatz.

The collaboration between Hulu and Onyx Collective shows the father-son duo examining each area's distinctive car culture where they "bring together two otherwise disparate car clubs over a shared love of all things automotive," according to the show's breakdown.

"I knew that I didn't want it to just be about flashy cars and expensive cars, I wanted to do something that brought in community, brought in family, brought in the things that you would never expect," Swizz tells Yahoo Entertainment. "And then also showcase what's happening right in your backyard. For the everyday car collector or the future car collector and know that it's not so far from them to get in the game."

Swizz Beats (left) and son, Nasir Dean (Courtesy Hulu)
Swizz Beatz and son Nasir Dean on Drive With Swizz Beatz. (Hulu) (Hulu)

In the show, the pair visit cities across the U.S., including Los Angeles, New York, Houston and Atlanta, as well as global locations like Japan and Saudi Arabia. Swizz wants to inspire others to travel and explore their interests as well as serve as a role model for fathers of color.

What to expect on the show

Drive With Swizz Beatz features high-flying, fast-moving cars like Porsche 911s to vehicles in which you ride slow, like decorated Slabs in Houston. Father and son wade waters in oversize ATVs and go big in monster trucks.

In the first episode, Nasir joins one of the only professional Black Monster Jam truck drivers and shows the process of climbing into one of the massive vehicles. No easy feat for a guy who is 6-feet-5 inches tall.

"All of these cars, it was a funny section of the show where like I had to — he got a kick out of it — me fitting in these hot rods or climbing up the monster truck and you would think it's tighter and it wasn't too tight, but you're definitely secure," Nasir explains.

"We were squeezing him in every little box, every small car," Swizz adds.

Each episode takes viewers to a different location and gives some historical overview of the cities along with the cars and community they are a part of.

"We have our favorite; Japan was for sure our favorite," Nasir shares. "We got to see just the level of mastery that everyone has there, whether it's they're making a drink, whether they're cutting ice, whether they're deejaying, whether they're drifting, everything that we saw there, they were masters of everything."

Fearless in their need for speed

There's an obvious danger when it comes to jumping into these fast-moving vehicles, sometimes on dangerous courses. But the pair said they did not back down from any challenges.

"We had no idea what we were walking into every time, but we were very adventurous. We don't fear a lot and then the more we started doing it, it pushed us even more to be even more fearless and it was like an accumulation, basically conditioned ourselves and became like stuntmen essentially," Nasir says.

Swizz Beatz's love of music is similar to love of cars

There is an intersection between the love for cars and music for Swizz. He's been into cars "forever" growing up in the Bronx around '90s hip-hop culture, especially when he got a Nissan 300Z Twin Turbo.

"Since then, cars [have] always been in my DNA, collecting, car shows, all of this stuff," Swizz says.

He’s currently working on music inspired by his love for vehicles.

"I have a project right now called NSX and it's a picture with me next to my old NSX," he shares.

"For some reason that car just inspired the sound for me and I wanted to actually take that sound, take that car and put it into a soundtrack. So look out for NSX. It's something like I never did before. So I played it for [Jay-Z] the other day and he wrote me to say, 'man, that was tight.'"

Swizz was a big collector of cars when he says he wasn't secure in who he was as a person, but now boasts a more curated and tailored fleet, which consists of only Ferraris.

"I have a very small, selective collection and I'm personally building and I have like an eight to 10 year plan with, exercising discipline, exercising patience like what we seen in Japan and just applying it to myself because you could just have like a bunch of things and at the end of the day, it means nothing," he explains.

'I'd rather look at my cars than drive them'

Through his maturation as a car enthusiast and collector, Swizz has learned to view his cars as art.

"One thousand percent I'd rather look at my cars than drive them," he says. "It just is what it is. Before I wanted to just drive all day, I don't even think I like driving like that anymore."

His son can attest to this.

"Now I'll be in the garage. He'll be like this — looking at the cars like, let me just leave, you have your intimate time with your cars," Nasir says.

Alicia Keys, Swizz's wife, is also a fan of car culture. In March, he gifted her a Virgil Abloh-styled Mercedes Maybach.

"She's a car fanatic. She's a car collector. She's a speed demon," Swizz says of Keys.

He was grateful to have a car styled by his late friend, who died of cancer in Nov. 2021.

"Super creative, super creative genius. Gone too soon. And it's an honor to be able to give my kids and my wife a masterpiece of his," he says.

Drive With Swizz Beatz premieres Thursday, Nov. 16 on Hulu.