Two decades into their fruitful yet complicated relationship, Britain’s Channel 4 has decided it’s time to air a documentary about Jay Z and Kanye West called Public Enemies: Jay Z vs. Kanye West. Despite the “vs.” part of the title (and the existence of the film altogether) making the rappers’ relationship seem, perhaps unfairly, on par with some of the legendary beefs in rap history, there is no denying that Jay and Kanye are still two of the biggest stars in the world whose nearly 20 year relationship could make for a fascinating documentary.
The one hour-long documentary, which airs Monday, July 31, at 10 PM, is described as a “tale of creativity versus commerce, inner-city deprivation versus suburban aspiration, of right versus left. And it reveals an even bigger story of how race, wealth, and celebrity are shaping modern America.”
Channel 4’s website explains that the doc will show “unseen footage and exclusive interviews, reveal[ing] the story behind Jay Z and Kanye West’s spectacular rise, their creative partnership and their colossal falling out.”
Starting in 2000, West began producing beats for artists on Jay Z’s Roc-A-Fella records. West worked with Jay directly on Jay’s 2001 masterpiece The Blueprint, producing four of the album’s 13 tracks including “Izzo (H.O.V.A.).”
The duo went on to work together on many songs like “Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix),” “Monster,” and “Run This Town,” among others, with the partnership culminating in 2011’s joint album “Watch the Throne.”
Despite this powerhouse (and Kanye considering Jay a big brother), the past year has seen the friendship turn tumultuous. On Nov. 16 during a stop in Sacramento as part of his Saint Pablo Tour, Kanye called out Jay, saying, “Jay Z, call me bruh. You still ain’t call me. Jay Z, I know you got killers. Please don’t send ’em at my head. Just call me. Talk to me like a man.”
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On this year’s 4:44 album, Jay seemed to fire back on the song “Kill Jay Z,” rapping, “You walkin’ around like you invincible, you dropped outta school, you lost your principles/I know people backstab you, I felt bad too/But this ‘fuck everybody’ attitude ain’t natural/But you ain’t the same, this ain’t KumbaYe/But you got hurt because you did cool by ‘Ye/You gave him 20 million without blinkin”/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.”
To cap all this off, there have also been reports Hov and ‘Ye are engaged in a legal battle over money related to the Tidal streaming service.
It is hard to tell with these things what is real and what is marketing, however. Despite Channel 4 claiming a “colossal” falling out, there are yet more reports that the two megastars are working on new music together.
Either way, hopefully Public Enemies provides a fly-on-the-wall glimpse into one of the most fascinating connections in recent music history.