The 11 Best (And One Worst) Jay-Z and Kanye West Collaborations
By Jason Newman Posted Jan 6th 2011 11:25PM
Depending on who you ask, 'Watch the Throne,' the collaborative album between Jay-Z and Kanye West, will be released either this week or March 1. Def Jam, West's record label, is mum for now, but regardless of the release date, the album will continue the 10-year musical relationship between the two artists.
Beginning with 2000's 'This Can't Be Life' off Jay-Z's 'The Dynasty: Roc La Familia,' Jigga and 'Ye have teamed up more than 30 times via each other's albums, remixes and soundtracks. In honor of 'Watch the Throne,' we take a look back at the 11 best tracks the pair have created -- along with one certified dud. Warning: Videos contain explicit content and language!
'Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)' (2001)Jay-Z's sixth album, 'The Blueprint,' wasn't the first album West worked on, but tracks like 'Takeover,' 'Izzo (H.O.V.A.)' and this song vaunted the beatsmith from virtual unknown to superproducer.
'Poppin' Tags' (2002)Anchored by a sample from Motown girl group The Marvalettes, Big Boi, Killer Mike and Twista join Jay-Z on this highlight from the sprawling 'Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse.'
'Lucifer' (2003)It's still hard to forgive Jay-Z for falsely announcing that 2003's 'The Black Album' would be his last in a effort to drum up sales. But at least the musical scam of the century produced one of the rapper's most consistent albums. In addition to producing 'Encore,' West flipped reggae crooner Max Romeo for this Caribbean-tinged classic.
'Never Let Me Down' (2004)Paying back West's productions, Jay-Z appeared on Yeezy's debut album 'The College Dropout,' fashioning himself the "Jeff Gordon of rap." Um. OK.
'Diamonds From Sierra Leone' (Remix) (2005)Kanye flipped his verse in the original version from talking about his favorite subject -- himself -- to discussing his inner conflict between wanting to shine and not contributing to the dangerous practices inherent in diamond-gathering. Jay-Z exerts his influence on the cause by sharing how many people he has made rich.
'Big Brother' (2007)Jay-Z's not technically on this one, but the final track on West's 2007 album 'Graduation' doubles as a paean to the man who, more than anyone, helped Kanye reach the status he has today. In uncomfortably stark detail, West recalls his bashfulness at meeting "his idol" in 1998 through present day. West's ego usually rules the headlines, but this track showcases the rapper's brute honesty and vulnerability rarely heard in hip-hop.
'Swagga Like Us' (2008)Flipping a line from M.I.A.'s 'Paper Planes,' this T.I./Jay-Z/West/Lil Wayne collaboration was slated to be on 'The Blueprint 3' but found a home on T.I.'s 'Paper Trail.'
'Run This Town' (2009)One of the year's biggest songs and the second single from 'The Blueprint 3,' 'Town' sees Rihanna sing the hook on a track co-produced by West and longtime collaborator No I.D.
'Jockin' Jay-Z' (2009)So maybe Run-D.M.C. were saying "Jockin' J.C." in the original song used for this 'Blueprint 3'-era track, but it's close enough.
'So Appalled' (2010)Neither West nor Jay-Z have the best verse on this track from Kanye's 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' -- that would be Pusha T -- but the ominous synths and swamp-thick drums help make this one of 'Fantasy's' best tracks.
'Power' (Remix) (2010)Released as part of West's "Good Fridays" series, which saw the rapper release a free track every Friday leading up to the release of 'Fantasy,' this remix flips both the original King Crimson sample and Snap's 'The Power' into a song just as potent as West's original track.
The Bottom 1
'Young Forever' (2010)Why, Kanye, why? Your streak was unparalleled. Untouchable. You know that if you and Jay-Z tack a song on at the very end of an album, people can still hear it, right? On the last song on 'The Blueprint 3,' West inexplicably samples Alphaville's 'Forever Young' and turns it into a showcase for U.K. pop singer and G.O.O.D. music signee Mr. Hudson. Good for Mr. Hudson. Bad for the rest of us. The execrable track should now be shorthand for worst song of a musician's career.
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