Producer: DJ Toomp
Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
It’s arguable that we might not even know who Kanye West is if not for Jay-Z. Ye may have ghost-produced a handful of notable tracks for various artists, but he didn’t become “the guy” until he started rocking with the Roc. So Ye dedicated song number 13 on Graduationto his “Big Brother” Shawn Carter.
Pouring his heart out on the track, Kanye chronicled his journey from lowly beat-maker—who had to buy tickets to see Jay-Z in concert—to becoming Jay’s peer and earning a chance to play on the same field as his idol. Name-checking everyone from his mentor, producer No I.D,. to his manager Kyambo “Hip-Hop” Joshua, Kanye gave a detailed timetable of their relationship. Ye spoke of their sibling rivalry, and how he continues to feel overshadowed by his richer and more successful older brother. But in 2012, the tables have turned—somewhat. Big Brother and Little Brother are now traveling the world together performing in front of enormous crowds every night. They even made an album together. Now that’s brotherly love!