Early life, family, educational background
American R&B songwriter and singer Mashonda Karima Tifere, was born on 9 January 1978, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, making her a Capricorn. She was raised in Harlem, New York City. From a young age, she loved photography, art, music and culture in general, which her family inspired and helped cultivated her love for the arts. Her uncle was an artist, and she found his oils, canvasses, paint and brushes fascinating. Her grandmother gifted her a Kodak camera, and she took as many photos as she could.
Her voice can be heard in several popular 2000s American hip-hop songs.
Who is Swizz Beats?
American rapper, record executive, and record producer, Kasseem Daoud Dean – professionally known as Swizz Beats- was born on 13 September 1978 in New York City, US, making him a Virgo. He started out in music as a DJ, and when he was 18, he garnered popularity through Ruff Ryders, his family’s record label. He was also friends with rapper DMX, and they worked together to further their careers. In 2001, he launched his label Full Surface and signed Mashonda, Cassidy, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and Eve among others. He has released two albums, his 2007 album is entitled “One Man Band Man,” and his 2018 album is “Poison.”
In the same year that Mashonda suffered the stillbirth of their first baby, musician and model Nichole Levy – professionally known as Note Marcato – gave birth to Swizz’s first child, Nasir Dior whom Mashonda named. Mashonda and Swizz married in 2004, had their first son together in 2006, and in 2007 he met Russian singer Jahna Sabastian who birthed his only daughter, Nicole in May the following year. However, Swizz only found out about Nicole in 2009, when she was a year old. Mashonda and Swizz separated in 2008 and by May 2010, their divorce was finalized. Swizz then went on to date American singer Alicia Keys who he married in July 2010 and has two sons with – making him a father to five children.
In an episode of “Uncensored,” Swizz spoke about the public constantly wanting Mashonda and Alicia to be enemies when they are not, ‘… a lot of people like to gravitate towards negativity so anytime that people feel like they can get away from their pain and make fun of what they feel is your pain, that’s going to always be a hell of a celebration.’
American songwriter, pianist, and singer, Alicia Augello Cook – professionally known as Alicia Keys – was born on 25 January 1981 in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, US, making her an Aquarius. When she was 12, she began composing songs – as she was already classically trained on the piano – and at 15, she was signed by Columbia Records. She has won six Grammy Awards so far in her career.
In 2013, Alicia told Marie Claire UK that she first met Swizz when they were both teenagers, but they didn’t instantly have a romantic connection. In fact, ‘Everything with him is really over the top,‘ she said, ‘I used to see him and think, ‘He is so annoying.’’ Their teams wanted them to work together, but Alicia was hesitant because she didn’t enjoy spending time with him, however, once they finally agreed to work together, they actually combined quite well, and got along.
They started dating around 2008 while Swizz was still married to Mashonda, and while Alicia has insisted that, ‘There’s no need to fight what’s not true,’ and that she never became romantically involved with Swizz while he was still married; but she did throw him a birthday party that year. The following year, Swizz rapped about the party which was held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in “Best I Ever Had,” by Drake, ‘She gave me a party at the Guggenheim… What’s next? The ring? The baby? She really loves me.’
Alicia fell pregnant with her first child with Swizz in 2010, and on 31 July, they married in Corsica, France in the presence of their friends and family including Bono and Queen Latifah; their officiant was Deepak Chopra. While she was still pregnant, they traveled to South Africa where the FIFA World Cup was being held, and partook in a Zulu ceremony in Illovo, Johannesburg, to bless their union and unborn child. She gave birth to Egypt Daoud Dean that October, and to Genesis Ali Dean in December 2014. Two years later, Alicia released her song, “Blended Family.” ‘I’m so excited for you to hear this song. It means so much to me and our whole family. The understanding, compassion, and support we’ve found is a powerful testament to the healing that comes when we choose love. Especially for the kids… the most important part of our lives.’ Alicia has also reflected on her friendship with Mashonda and even said that they are ‘life partners.’ She recalled a time when ‘Mashonda said to me, ‘We’re going to be grandparents together.’ And I was like, ‘Wow.’’
Warner Chapel Music offered Mashonda a publishing deal in 1998, which she accepted and signed. She then went on to work for Full Force and wrote music for Monifah. A year later, she signed on with Columbia Records to record under them. Mashonda lent her voice to rapper Jay-Z’s 1999 single “Girl’s Best Friend” on the soundtrack for the crime comedy film, “Blue Streak.” The song was produced by Swizz Beatz and also made it onto Jay-Z’s fourth album entitled “Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter.” Mashonda and Swizz teamed up again when he produced rapper Eve’s single “Gotta Man” which included Mashonda’s supporting vocals. The song was listed on “Let There Be Eve… Ruff Ryders’ First Lady,” Eve’s debut studio 1999 album. In 2004 she featured on rapper Cassidy’s album, “Split Personality” Swizz-produced song “Get No Better.”
The following year she also featured on rapper Fat Joe’s song “Listen Baby,” – which was also produced by Swizz – on his album “All or Nothing.” 2005 was also the year Mashonda released her debut album entitled “January Joy,” produced by Swizz, Raphael Saadiq and Kanye West. The first two singles released off the album were “Blackout” which featured Snoop Dogg, and “Back of da Club” which was co-written by and featured Swizz. Mashonda released her first mixtape, “The Renovation Series,” in March 2009,. Her second mixtape was released in 2012, entitled “Love, Mashonda.” After that, she resigned from making music to focus on her family, and spend quality time with her son. However, she recently returned to the microphone and released her second studio album, “Note to Self” in 2022.
My new EP "Note to Self" here!
Creating this body of work has been a soul-stretching exercise in honest self-expression and I am so excited to share it with you!
— MASHONDA (@MashondaLoyal) October 28, 2022
Mashona wrote for “VIBE Vixen” in the column “Pandora’s Box,” but that’s not the only time she was a published author – her co-parenting book entitled, “Blend: The Secret to Co-Parenting and Creating a Balanced Family” was published in 2018, which included excerpts from Swizz, and the foreword was written by Alicia. Mashonda told People, ‘Time has a way of healing things but we also had to heal ourselves.’ Mashonda admits that she regrets the way she handled things back in 2008 after her split from Swizz; she blamed her behavior on ‘… a need for validation…’ and her ‘ego.’ She also opened up that she attended therapy sessions with Alicia and Swizz. In the book, she stated that choosing to work with your former partner and co-parent instead of hating them is an important decision to make for the sake of your children, so they can realize that love is always the best choice.
In 2011 she joined the cast of VH1’s first season of their reality series “Love & Hip Hop: New York.” The reality series documents women who have supported their male partners in reaching their dreams of becoming known names in hip-hop. However, these women were mainly their background support, and most people do not know their names, never mind their stories. These women are aspiring managers and artists, and they fight to get recognition for their work in New York.
Mashonda has dived into other business ventures too. In 2016 on International Women’s Day, Mashonda founded ArtLeadHER, which focuses on providing equal opportunities for female visual artists. According to their website, ‘We work with marginalized women and teenage girls to provide visual arts education, professional development, brand exposure, and opportunities to exhibit their art in prominent exhibition spaces.’ Mashonda is passionate about fighting against gender bias in the artistic world; she collaborated with Gucci’s Chime for Change, and Beyoncé’s BeyGOOD to open her organization.
Her love for art began when she was a young girl. When Mashonda was a bit older, she worked in art museums and found it to be an empowering experience, as she gained a lot of knowledge from these jobs. When Mashonda was 18, she used her first pay check from her music to purchase “Oak Tree, Snowstorm,” a framed artwork photographed by Ansel Adams. The further Mashonda journeyed through her career, the more she learned about how prominent bigotry and sexism are in the art industry. She spent some of her time traveling around the world and working at different art galleries, meeting female artists, and networking; she began working towards her Art Business degree at Christie’s Education in New York. While studying there, she also interned at galleries and represented female artists at fairs.
In 1998, she began dating Kasseem Dean, a record producer professionally known as Swizz Beatz. Sadly, in 2000 Mashonda suffered a stillbirth and lost who would have been her first child. However, while she was pregnant, Swizz’s son, Nasir was born, and not only was Mashonda his stepmother, but she also named him. In 2004, Mashonda and Swizz tied the knot, and two years later she gave birth to their son, Kasseem Dean Jr. In 2008, they announced their separation; according to Swizz, by June 2008 they had been separated for nine to ten months, following his affair with Alicia Keys. The divorce was finalized in May 2010, on account of irreconcilable differences.
While on “Love & Hip Hop: New York,” in 2011, she said that her marriage to Swizz was ruined once he began working with Alicia. In 2009, she also shared open letters to Alicia which were published in “VIBE Magazine”, in which she accused her of being a ‘homewrecker.’ These open letters were shared after Alicia shared tweets about how happy and in love she is, and Mashonda felt that it was a slap in the face. She also stated that she felt blindsided, not only when Swizz filed for divorce, but when she found out about his relationship with Alicia.
In 2018, Mashonda told People Magazine that she realized how important it was to be able to be friendly with her ex- and his new partner, ‘It took two years into our blending to make it happen, but when we did it was like turning the light on… there were times when we didn’t fully agree, but we were all comfortable just letting it go.’ The turning point for her was when she noticed the effect their tension had on Kasseem Jr., ‘He had some issues in school… he wanted to know why I couldn’t go see him at his dad’s, and why can’t his dad come over and see his bedroom at our house.’ Mashonda invited Alicia to Kasseem’s 6th birthday – the two women spent the entire day bonding and working on their communication and mutual respect.
Mashonda was interviewed by Essence two years later, and they asked about her supposed vacation with Swizz and Alicia, based on photos of the blended family in St. Barts. She explained that the vacation was not planned to be a family outing; she was there celebrating a friend’s birthday, but Alicia and Swizz were on the island at the same time with all of the children, to enjoy the holidays. ‘We made a play date type thing and I came to the beach to meet them there,’ shared Mashonda, ‘I didn’t know they were going to kiss.’ The kiss was a big issue, as fans were outraged that the married couple wanted to display their affection in front of Mashonda. However, she expressed that she didn’t mind it, and people made it more of a big deal than it actually was, ‘He leaned in, he kissed her – that’s his wife. It didn’t bother me, it didn’t affect me… it’s a natural thing.’
Swizz and Alicia denied that they did anything wrong. It’s clear that they’ve moved on from their issues, since both Alicia and Swizz wrote for Mashonda’s book on how to ‘raise emotionally and mentally healthy children.’ Fans applauded their partnership – ‘It’s mature people looking out for the best interest of the children.’ In July 2022, Swizz posted a photo of Mashonda and Alicia hugging while they were backstage at one of Alicia’s concerts. It’s nice to see that despite their rough start, they are still able to support each other. Mashonda and Alicia now describe their relationship as a ‘sisterhood.’
In an episode of “Uncensored”, Swizz spoke about how important it is for all three of them to work together for the sake of their children ‘We have kids involved… Everybody has their right to react. Everybody has the right to their emotions and everybody has the right to figure out how to move forward as adults and as parents.’ Alicia and Swizz now have two children together, Egypt and Genesis. In a 2018 interview with Oprah Daily, Mashonda shared that Kasseem has a beautiful relationship with his brothers, and they all get along very well thanks to the example their parents have set, by being kind and respectful and hosting dinners, and spending time together as a blended family.
Mashonda has black hair and black eyes, stands at 5ft 4ins (163cm) tall, weighs 120 lbs (55kg), and her vital statistics are 35-29-34. she wears a US size 8 shoe, a US size 4 dress, and has several tattoos.
Net worth and salary
According to some sources, as of November 2022, Mashonda’s net worth is estimated at $1.5 million, thanks to her work as a singer/songwriter, author and artist.