Kanye West and Jay-Z's relationship: Inside the rappers' friendship, fallouts and feuds
As their relationship evolved over the years, Kanye and Jay went from becoming friends to foe to coming back stronger than ever
Kanye West and Jay-Z are two of the biggest rap icons who have had their differences ever since they first worked together back in the '90s. Their journey has been long and the fans of both the hip-hop legends might get to see the same in Kanye’s new documentary called ‘Jeen-Yuhs’. The three-part documentary will shed light on the 44-year-old rapper’s personal and professional ups and downs of the last 21 years.
Kanye and Jay had been rock solid like any other close friends. The two first worked together when Jay recruited Kanye to produce tracks for his Roc-A-Fella Records. As their relationship evolved over the years, the two went from becoming friends to foes to coming back stronger than ever. From taking digs at each other to respecting each other opinions, let’s explore Kanye and Jay’s unique relationship over the years.
'Kanye West channeling OJ Simpson': Fans worry as rapper rants about Pete Davidson
Kanye West’s friendship with Jay Z
The two worked with each other as Kanye produced the track for Jay-Z’s record label Roc-A-Fella Records. In 2007, the award-winning rap star dropped ‘Big Brother’ for Jay that reportedly pleased him a lot. Beyonce’s rapper husband had then dubbed the song as “fair portrayal from a little brother's perspective” and admitted that “Roc-A-Fella is tough love.” In 2009, their bond grew stronger after Ye interrupted Taylor’s MTV VMAs speech claiming Beyonce’s work was better. In 2011, Kanye and Jay’s bond grew closer as they dropped their first collaborative album ‘Watch The Throne’, and headed for a tour in the same year.
In an interview with Zane Lowe, Jay described his relationship with Ye as a “big brother thing and a respect thing” and that “it’s always a good experience.” He added that their interactions weren't always easy, “He's going to challenge everything because he's really trying to test it and poke holes to make sure that it stands up. I admire that. It kind of works for me”, said the Brooklyn native.
Kanye West’s fall out with Jay Z
All was good between the two of the biggest hip-hop icons until Jay and Beyonce snubbed Kanye and Kim’s May 2014 wedding. Their absence fueled the rumors that there was tension between the two rap legends. In October 2016, during the Seattle stop of his Saint Pablo tour, Kanye called out Jay for not reaching out after his then-wife Kim got robbed at gunpoint. According to NME, Ye stated, “Don’t call me after the robbery and say 'how you feelin?' You wanna know how I’m feelin? Come by the house. Bring the kids by the house. Like we’re brothers. Let’s sit down." He added, "I can’t take this shit bro. Our kids have never even played together.”
The drama continued later that year when Kanye then addressed Jay, saying, "JAY-Z, call me, bruh! You still ain't call me! JAY-Z, call me! JAY-Z, I know you got killers, please don't send them at my head." Kanye was hospitalized for exhaustion and sleep deprivation a few days later.
Jay-Z finally reverted to the same in 2017 during an interview with hip-hop journalist Elliott Wilson. Jay spilled the reason behind his feud with Kanye, saying, "What really hurt me was, you can't bring my kids and my wife into it. Kanye's my little brother. He's talked about me a hundred times. He made a song called 'Big Brother.' We've gotten past bigger issues. But you brought my family into it and now it's a problem with me. Now, it's a real, real problem,” as published by PopSugar. In June 2017 Jay took a dig at Ye with his album 4:44. On the song, ‘Kill JAY-Z’, he raps, “But you got hurt because you did cool by 'Ye / You gave him 20 million without blinkin' / He gave you 20 minutes on stage, f**k was he thinkin'?/ 'F**kin' wrong with everybody?' is what you sayin' / But if everybody's crazy, you're the one that's insane.” By July 2017, Kanye split with Jay Z’s streaming platform Tidal over a money dispute. Kanye believes the music streaming service owes him "more than $3 million" in fees. Tidal argued that Kanye failed to produce the contracted music videos, so therefore he was not eligible to a payout
Kanye West and Jay-Z reunite sparking ‘Watch the Throne 2’ rumors
By 2017 end and around early 2018, it was reported that Kanye and Jay dissolved their feud and got back on good terms. In an interview with NY Times, Jay stated, “I [talked to] Kanye the other day, just to tell him, like, he's my brother. I love Kanye. I do. It's a complicated relationship with us." he explained. "Kanye came into this business on my label. So I've always been like his big brother. And we're both entertainers. It's always been like a little underlying competition with your big brother. And we both love and respect each other's art, too. So it's like, we both- everyone wants to be the greatest in the world. You know what I'm saying? And then there's like a lot of other factors that play in it. But it's gonna, we gonna always be good."
In April 2018, when asked by David Letterman if he and Kanye were friends during an appearance on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, Jay responded, "That's my brother, we're beyond friends. Really, like literally, my little brother is Kanye. And like your little brother, things happen sometimes." Kanye seemed to reciprocate as in September 2018, Kanye shared a now-deleted photo of Beyoncé and Jay on Instagram, captioning it, "famleeeeee."
In December 2019, the two were spotted hanging out at Diddy’s 50th birthday party. Kim and Beyonce apparently too made it to the party. In August 2021, Kanye sent the Internet into a meltdown after he surprised the fans by bringing Jay to the ‘Donda’ listening party. Jay's verse made it clear where he and Kanye stand today. "This might be the return of the throne," he rapped. "Hova and Yeezus, like Moses and Jesus." The reunion marked them coming together on stage for the first time in five years sparking rumors for ‘Watch the Throne 2’.