Think for a moment about the amount of the air that would remain in a room backstage after two of the most legendary egos in the history of hip hop had entered with their respective entourages in tow after performing a set where they sang "Ni**as in Paris," say, only 4 times. Now multiply that by 63 tour dates and you can understand why Jay Z and Kanye West may have publicly drifted away from each other in the aftermath of The Throne tour into separate projects.
Having successfully navigated chief celebrity duties on the unveiling of the Barclays Center earlier in the year in his hometown of Brooklyn, Jay moved on to Philadelphia where he curated the Budweiser Made in America Festival. Kanye must have gone right back into the studio to produce and record his GOOD Music posse album Cruel Summer and organize his creative agency DONDA for the "Mercy" music video and the short film Cruel Summer, both of which were shot in Doha, Qatar. Highlights from the Cruel Summer short include a Lamborghini car chase through the streets of Doha and the first Qatari woman ever to star in a movie in the country’s history. DONDA developed a specialized camera rig that allowed the filmmakers to shoot several angles at once. The “Seven Screen Experience” first premiered inside of a pyramid structure at Cannes. Hov on the other hand had Ron Howard shoot a documentary about Made in America and performed "99 Problems" with Pearl Jam in another of his signature made for TV crossover moments.
Jay did appear on the GOOD Music cut “Clique” but that’s the last time we’ve seen the two together on a track, although producer Mike Dean has confirmed the eventual release of a sequel to Watch the Throne. Around the time that Jay was reaping the fruits of his labor during an eight-night residency at the Barclays Center, ‘Ye was setting the stage for a different kind of labor. Not to be outdone even in the fatherhood department by his former mentor, North West began her nine month residency around the same time Blue Ivy Carter was turning nine months.
Early 2013 belonged 100% to one Beyonce Knowles Carter as she lip-synced to the President, made unflattering faces at Super Bowl XLVII and premiered an autobiographical documentary about her life. Around the same time she announced a $50 million Pepsi deal, Jay Z launched his own sports agency, Roc Nation Sports. Kanye in the meantime was developing major anxiety over the upcoming birth of his first child which he was funneling into the aggressive production on Yeezus. Jay must have been laying groundwork for a lucrative eight-figure deal between Roc Nation and Samsung that would see his album Magna Carta…Holy Grail released via smartphone.
The first song from Yeezus premiered via projection on the sides of 66 buildings worldwide followed by a hard-hitting performance on Saturday Night Live of two of his new tracks which feature a somewhat dyslexic haute couture/anti-establishment message.
Jay announced his album release with a commercial during Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Despite the opportunity for a smash hit single, Jay and Kanye uncharacteristically remained absent from each other’s albums though both of them did make use of surrogate son Frank Ocean. Head-to-head, Yeezus went Gold in the US while Magna Carta...Holy Grail has gone 2x Platinum.
As both artists head out on solo tours, with tickets for Jay Z and Kanye West in concert on sale now, there may be two gods, but there can only be one king.