Snail up Mashonda’s gated, mountain-top driveway and you’ll catch an unexpected sight. Weeds tall enough to kiss knees. An unused pool sad with leaves and dirt. Silence. However, the particularly glowing 29-year-old laughs off the scenery, dubbing her soon-to-be ex New York home (once owned by Madonna) a “ghetto mansion.” Inside, cardboard boxes stuffed with wineglasses, appliances... memories. It goes without saying—Mashonda has had more than a rough two years. You know the story. It lives in gossip blogs, tweets, and between the fingers of a showy A-list pair. Now for the first time ever, the ex-wife of Swizz Beatz is revealing the whole truth and nothing but. In a candid two-part interview, Mashonda opens up to VIBE's Tracy Garraud about her past, present, and why she’s more resilient than ever.
VIBE: How much of a burden is it to be referred to as Swizz Beatz ex-wife, rather than Mashonda?
Mashonda: I can't wait until that goes down. I hate that when [Swizz and Alicia Keys are] doing something I always come up. I can't wait for the day when we’re both in our own worlds. I’m a separate person and just want my own identity.
How far have you gone to regain your own identity? Have you still kept his last name, Dean?
I do. I kept my last name for my son’s sake, until I remarry. There's no need to rush to change it… that just complicates things for my son. That would be so petty of me. The only thing that could change [my last name] is a really good man.
Speaking of which. You’ve been spotted with producer, Michael Honablue. Going well?
Yeah. It’s only been two months, [but] Michael and I have a really good thing. I've been really private with my personal life, but I will say that Michael and myself share a lot of characteristics. He's just a good guy.
"The first time I went on a date with somebody, I cried. It was like ‘Oh my God.’ I didn't even know how to talk to another man."
When did you feel you could comfortably date again?
I had to be fully divorced before anything because it was important to show my son that that's just not how you do it. You're not going to do this to your wife… over my dead body are you going to do this to your wife. If you don't want to be with her, you wait until your **** is right, [then] you do all your public stuff. That was really important for me to [be] an example for him. So I waited. It wasn't really an interest of mine to date anyways. I just really wanted to figure out me and my next move because I was so confused and hurt. If you're not complete with yourself there is no way you can be complete in a relationship. But now I'm in a really good place, and I only mess with positive people. I will not entertain negativity.
You were with Swizz for ten years, married for four, is it weird being with a man that isn't your ex-husband?
It is definitely weird. The first time I went on a date with somebody, I cried. It was like ‘Oh my God.’ I didn't even know how to talk to another man. It was just weird being there, but I knew it was something I had to do, a part of moving on. Thank God I've been blessed to deal with only good, educated, sensitive men. God will send the right person for me. [Right now] my son is my number one man.
How old is little Kaseem now?
Three-and-a-half. He'll be four in December.
I know it was very important for you to sit down with Alicia if she was going to be around your son. Safe to assume that happened?
When I wrote her that Twitter letter(click to read letter) everybody wanted to say things like ‘Oh, what do you need to meet her for? It's not her problem, it's Swizz's." I'm like, ‘You have a kid, go through what I went through and then talk to me.’ I'm not having my son around anybody I don't know. I don't give a **** who you are and how much money you have and what management he's going to be under when he visits you. I need to see you and I need you to see how serious I am about him. And that's what happened. We had to sit down, and I told her how I felt. I didn't mention anything else, it was all about my son and it was fine after that. I'm not going sit and talk to [them] about what happened between the three of us. This is about my son.