The gamut of rap collaborations since 2011 includes Fat Joe and Remy Ma; Future and Drake; Future and Young Thug; Offset, 21 Savage, and Metro Boomin; Kanye West and Kid Cudi; and Travis Scott and Quavo. Only one (What a Time to Be Alive) had a fraction of the zeitgeist-bending grandness of JAY-Z and Kanye West’s decade-in-the-making Watch the Throne.
With Watch the Throne came a collaboration between two legends who brought out the best in each other: West produced the lion’s share of his big brother’s classic The Blueprint, and JAY-Z propelled West with his co-sign and some of the best verses from his first two albums. Naturally, the team-up became a blockbuster event for a dying business starved for one. And the rap gods came through for the team: all that attention, and the album somehow did not leak in full before its release date.
The black excellence epic was inescapable in the succeeding months, but something this momentous ended up only being a one-time thing. Kanye West was absent from JAY-Z’s 2013 project Magna Carta Holy Grail, even though its big hit “Holy Grail” came from Watch the Throne sessions. Within the next three years, the duo would split further apart, until West officially proclaimed that there wouldn’t be a Watch the Throne 2 because “of some Tidal/Apple bullshit.”
Unfortunately, they’re not even in the same lane these days and have been throwing parting jabs at each other on tracks and in interviews. It may be a long while before North West and Blue Ivy Carter finally get a chance to play with each other. Still, the strife between JAY and ‘Ye can’t take away from the era when they were on top of the world together. For its seventh anniversary, we’re ranking all of the tracks on Watch the Throne.