Six short years ago, Kanye West and JAY-Z teamed up for the collaborative album, Watch the Throne, and a massive supporting tour. In the years since then, however, the two MCs appear to have had a falling out. Several times during his Saint Pablo tour last year, Kanye referenced friction between he and his one-time “Big Brother”. He accused HOV of putting business interests above their friendship and also chided him for failing to reach out in the wake of Kim Kardashian’s armed robbery. An especially erratic onstage rant saw Kanye accuse JAY-Z of hiring hitman: “JAY-Z, I know you got killers. Please don’t send them at my head.” (A short time later, Kanye was hospitalized.)
Now, JAY-Z has responded to Kanye. On “Kill JAY-Z”, the opening track to his new album 4:44, JAY-Z raps, “You dropped outta school, you lost your principles/ I know people backstab you, I feel bad too/ But this fuck everybody attitude ain’t natural.” He goes on, “But you ain’t the same, this ain’t KumbaYe/ But you got hurt because you think KumbaYe/ You gave him 20 million without thinkin’/ He gave you 20 minutes on stage, fuck was he thinkin’?/ ‘Fuck wrong with everybody?’ is what you sayin’/ But if everybody’s crazy, you’re the one that’s insane.”
In an interview coinciding with the album’s release, JAY-Z said “Kill JAY-Z” is “really about the ego. It’s about killing off the ego, so we can have this conversation in a place of vulnerability and honesty.” Thus, it’s entirely possible JAY-Z is simply doling out some tough brotherly love to his one-time protege.
On the other hand, JAY-Z also appears to throw shade at Kanye on “BAM”. In an apparent reference to a lyric on Kanye’s Life of Pablo track “30 Hours” (“I hit the gym, all chest no legs”), JAY-Z raps, “Uh, niggas is skippin’ leg day just to run they mouth.” “BAM” also samples “Bam Bam” by Sister Nancy, a track which Kanye himself samples on “Famous”.
How Kanye responds is anyone’s guess, but as he’s currently holed up in Wyoming recording his own new album, perhaps we’ll get an answer sooner than later.