5. Kanye West "Diamonds" (2005) / "Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)" f/ Jay-Z (2005)
Album: Late Registration
Producer: Kanye West
Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
It's 2005: Jay is still “retired,” Damon Dash has been unceremoniously ousted from the label he helped build, amd there's a whole stable of Roc-A-Fella artists whose future is uncertain—but one thing is certain: Kanye West is the label's breakout star. There were a lot of unanswered questions floating around at the time, but the main one was Who was rolling with Dame and who was rolling with Jay?
Everyone was patiently waiting on a statement from Jigga, and the got it on the remix to Kanye's single “Diamonds.” Jay didn’t just break his silence, he returned to the mic and spit one of his best verses ever. Defiant lyrics like “How could you falter?/When you're the Rock of Gibraltar” made it clear that Jay was still rocking with the Roc and the roster would be standing by him.
Kanye was clearly rolling with Coach Carter; even if Big Bro had outshined Little Bro by adding this verse to the remix. Kanye’s original was a PSA about blood diamonds, but Jay flipped the “diamond” theme and turned the song into a PSA about the new Roc-A-Fella—although we’re still not sure what Lebron brought to the table. (Oh well, at least we know Memphis Bleek can always count on his Shawn Carter persion plan.) The chemistry on “Diamonds” proved that Jay and Ye were even more of a force to be reckoned with when paired together.