Alicia Keys may have hosted the Grammy Awards this year, but she wasn’t the only member of her family to receive a lot of attention on music’s biggest night. Her stepson, Prince Nasir Dean, became a talked-about highlight of the show when he was spotted in the audience with his face elaborately painted to resemble a skeleton.
Prince, who also goes by the stage name Note Marcato, is the 19-year-old son of Swizz Beatz. Many people watching the ceremony were startled to see this spooky figure sitting among the celebs and were yearning for an explanation. If you looked closer at the photos of Prince that circulated online, you would notice that he was seated next to Swizz and his two other sons, Egypt and Genesis. Even after solving the mystery of who was lying behind this mask, the question still remained of why Prince had decided on this Grammy look. Now, we finally have an answer.
On Saturday night (Feb. 15), Swizz spoke before Prince’s performance at an art event at the West Hollywood EDITION Hotel and he brought up the viral moment. “I thought he was super brave,” he said. “One thing that we do in the household is we let our kids express themselves, and he just showed up as his character, Note Marcato, and I was like, ‘You know we’re going to the Grammys right?’ And he’s like, ‘Mm hmm, I’m going like this.’ You know. I thought it really worked for him.”
Beatz continued to praise his son’s creative means of self-expression. “If [my son] wants to wear his makeup and his costume and he’s being respectful, then I’m all for it,” Beatz says. “I give him the space to have his own sound, his own style, his own everything. I’m here to love him anyway.”
So, there you have it. The face paint is part of the Note Marcato alter ego. His mother, Nichole Levy, told Rolling Stone that he has been dressing up “as part of his brand” ever since he was a child.