After 16 years of fireworks, it appears the friendship between Jay Z and Kanye West has finally fizzled out.
One of the hardest things to find in an egoistic scene like hip hop in America is a long-lasting friendship between two hugely successful personalities.
No, not the kind Rick Ross and DJ Khaled share, that’s still young compared to the bond between the likes of Eminem and Dr. Dre, Timbaland and Missy Elliott (yes, not Justin Timberlake), and even the rap group Wu-Tang Clan who have a successful clothing line and dropped an album back in 2014.
Kanye’s most recent rant about the music business, politics, Beyonce and Jay Z is proof that the former friends are now anything but. Even though they made a show of being cool with each other at award shows and at the launch of Jay Z’s streaming service TIDAL, the grapevine had reported that they were not as close as they used to be.
When Yeezy got married to reality star Kim Kardashian, Jay Z and his wife Beyonce were conspicuously absent. It led to talks of Beyonce not being a great fan of Kim’s and would rather be aloof. Kanye confirmed that last month when he interrupted a show to talk about how his and Jay Z’s daughter had never had a play date before, accusing Jigga of only calling him on the phone in the aftermath of Kim’s Paris robbery.
But his most recent rant was more bizzare and shocking than before. He spoke about how Beyonce told MTV she wouldn’t perform at the VMAs except she won at his expense. He went on to address Jay Z: ‘I know you got killers. Please don’t send them at my head…’
Jay Z and Kanye have always had a curious, complex relationship. Coming up as a nerdy producer from Chicago, Kanye was eager to earn Jay Z’s love and respect. The moment he got the opportunity to make beats for Jay, Kanye showed was he was worth and eventually got his own shot at the big leagues. He didn’t disappoint: his career has been glittering and deserving of the accolades he has received so far. His impact on Jay Z’s career has almost been equal to Jay Z’s on his.
‘I was always on the other side of the peephole
Then I dropped ‘Jesus Walks’ now I’m on the steeple
And we know, ‘New Jack City’ got to keep my brother
But to be number one I’mma beat my brother- Kanye West on Big Brother’
However, it seems as though the two ‘brothers’ are now headed in different directions. While Jay Z has never hidden his interest in corporate collaborations, in the last three or so years, Kanye has veered off that path, often speaking of his distaste for the ‘politics’ in the music industry.
Kanye may have started out as a Jay Z underling, but he knew he was destined to be more. His debut album went triple platinum and a star was born. He soon went from being Jay Z’s protege to being a friend, an equal and – when records are sold – a competitor.
On the other hand, Jay Z is not reputed for being okay with having an equal. Since his own career took off in 1996, he has always been the biggest personality on any label and the dominant partner of any friendship. All of his other proteges – Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel – have never come close to being on the same level with him. Only Kanye has broken that barrier.
In the last five years though, Kanye’s rants have intensified, while Jay Z has focused more on business endeavours. Jay has never directly spoken of his dislike for Kanye’s antics: he has shown it by being distant. While Kanye’s need for audience and attention has met its match by him marrying into the overly exposed Kardashian family, Jay Z is more reclusive and determinedly private about his and Beyonce’s life. Even when his marital troubles were made public via the infamous elevator incident with his sister-in-law Solange last year and Lemonade this year, he remained stoic till it became stale news.
Now that Kanye has publicly called out his wife the way he did last night, it’s not likely to make Jay Z stretch out his hand and offer Kanye an olive branch. His former protege has crossed over to the realm of people Jay Z has no qualms about dissociating from. Dame Dash, with whom he built the Roc-A-Fella dynasty, became a stranger who he didn’t see or talk to for 10 years (Kanye would know how that feels: he admittedly chose sides between them and followed Jay Z instead of Dame Dash who actually signed him to Roc-A-Fella). That phone call he was begging Jay Z for will never come. He knows that and that’s why he spoke about it publicly.
It is not known now how long this impasse will last or how both men’s careers will end up looking like. What is certain is that as it typically is when two people are no longer in the same creative sphere of existence, no creative work can get done. After 16 years of fireworks, it appears the friendship between Jay Z and Kanye West has finally fizzled out.
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