EBONY and Mass Appeal are celebrating 50 years of hip-hop with a special commemorative print issue that features the culture's leading disruptors. In a whirlwind three-city photoshoot, we tapped rap icons 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Lil' Kim, Rick Ross and Swizz Beatz.

Producer, rapper, DJ and songwriter Kasseem ‘Swizz Beatz’ Dean’s boundary-pushing approach to production helped shape the sound of rap over several eras. However, he’s not only music royalty – he’s also a long-standing champion of visual art, credited with inspiring many in the hip-hop community to follow suit. While amassing his own collection, Dean became a crucial connector, and an important advocate for artists of color. He is one of the art world’s most important power brokers, advocating for artists in an industry that often exploits creativity for the sake of the bottom line.

"This is a dream come true. I always thought I was going to be on the cover with my family, but to be on here on some solo zone, I'm not mad at it."

-Swizz Beatz

On July 4th weekend, the EBONY team remained hard at work, creating magic with Beatz in Littlerock, CA's famed Desert Cyc location. The otherworldly, 7,000 sq. ft. outdoor studio with a moat and waterfall felt like the perfect setting for the visionary's first EBONY cover. "This is a dream come true," he shares. "I always thought I was going to be on the cover with my family, but to be on here on some solo zone, I'm not mad at it."

The star, clad in crisp blue and white looks in line with the shoot's aquatic, futuristic-inspired set posed for photographer Keith Major. Stylist McKay Loving supplied a range of looks from Amiri, Tom Ford, Casablanca and more. Beatz added some extra swag to his Timberland, Louis Vuitton, and Adidas footwear with his sock line, Saudi Bronx.

In his EBONY cover story, writer Kevin Harry brings us into the creator's fantastical universe. Watch what happened behind the scenes of his cinematic cover shoot above and click here for the full digital cover experience.

The Hip-Hop 50 commemorative print issue is on sale from September 19, 2023 to December 19, 2023. Get your copy at magazines.com, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Walgreens, Target, Publix, Safeway, Kroger, Books A Million, and more, plus select retailers in London and South Africa.