Alicia Keys really opens up and lets it all hang out in her new InStyle Magazine cover story. Who knew she felt insecure as a 20-year-old on the verge of winning five Grammy Awards for her debut album? And who would have thought she wasn’t the biggest fan of her husband Swizz Beatz before working with him?
But that’s exactly the case. In the illuminating feature, Keys admits to dismissing Swizz as an arrogant show off before meeting him.
After reading an interview in which Beatz boasted about writing many of his best compositions in 10 minutes, Keys, who proudly spent long days obsessing over every chord progression, trashed him to a friend. “I was like, ‘Of course he does his songs in 10 minutes — have you heard his songs?'” But the two eventually met, she recalls, “and when we got into the studio and started working together, we literally made a song in 10 minutes. I was like, ‘Aw, sh*t!'” It turned out that Beatz’s style wasn’t about haste or carelessness but inspiration — an ability to tap into “a place that’s all feeling and emotion and spirit,” she says. Keys stopped dissing him and started dating him, and she says she’s still trying to learn from his spontaneous way of creating.
Keys also credits her husband for helping her embrace her worth and not feel guilty about treating herself to nice things.
“I began to understand that my humility was sometimes a mask for self-worth issues,” she says. “I was saying, ‘Oh, I don’t need much! I only need a little bit and I’m fine.’ I was kind of cutting off my blessings. But I started to recognize, ‘Wow, I have this wrong.'” She and Beatz have a tradition of out-spoiling each other with extravagant surprises on their birthdays; for one bash in New York, she rented out the Louis Vuitton store and the Guggenheim Museum. “Swizz is such a wild dreamer, and he loves beautiful art, beautiful clothes, and things that are well made,” she says. “I’ve learned that I can totally remain humble but I don’t have to cut off the wonderful things that I deserve.”
Aw isn’t that beautiful…
The self-worth issues Keys mentions are prominent in the cover story, as she reveals her insecurities were at their peak when she launched her successful R&B career:
“I swear, I wouldn’t go back to being 20 if somebody paid me — it was literally the worst time ever,” she reveals. “I wanted to fit in so desperately. I was so blind, so dependent on everybody else’s opinions, so uncomfortable, so unclear.”
Keys reveals it was an emotional meltdown at a photo shoot in 2006 that proved to be her turning point. She took a break from her career for a solo trip to Egypt and spent two weeks putting things into proper perspective. Still when Keys was asked if any of her empowering anthems like “A Woman’s Worth” and “Girl On Fire” were written to convince her of her own messaging she responded with a resounding yes.
“All of them! Truly. There hasn’t been one that I wrote because I actually believed it at the time. I needed to pull myself out of a rut or a place of confusion.”
Gotta love her transparency here. We’d expect that Keys opens up even further in her new autobiography “More Myself: A Journey,” are you excited to read it.
For more on Keys, her career, family and upcoming album ‘ALICIA,’ you can read the full InStyle article HERE. The July issue of InStyle is available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download June 12.