With damn near two decades logged in the game, it should come as no surprise that an artist like Jay Z, who at one point dropped albums less than one year apart from each other, is sitting on a Fort Knox-level of unreleased material. It should also be expected that even an artist as guarded as Jay has had information leaks here and there during that same time span, in which the existence of a few songs and collaborations that never actually came to fruition was confirmed. But unreleased songs get buried as new album sessions arise and as such, even the tracks we are blessed to know of have yet to see the light of day.
Now, with the birth of Tidal, which touts exclusive content as a major incentive to subscribe and commit to dropping as much as $20 a month, there's a place where Hov could graciously let loose the bounty of loosies that only Young Guru, Beyoncé, Kanye, and Blue Ivy have the option of hearing whenever they want.
Despite being a bonafide Jay Z Stan, I don't subscribe to Tidal because, call me crazy, but I still like downloading and keeping a library. Kanye shrug. So far, "exclusive content" on Tidal has meant "wait patiently for it to be ripped and enjoy for free." But if Jay doubled down on the exclusivity promise and dropped any or all of the slew of intriguing but unreleased tracks he's been sitting on for all of these years? Fuck it, take my money, fam. (But pls include a download option, because still, libraries>>>.)
Here's a collection of Jay Z songs that have been mentioned fleetingly in various places over the years, that only a superfan like myself even remembers. Shit, Jigga himself might've even forgotten one or two of these. But fuck a phone call, if you want new subscribers, Jay, here's the carrot with which to lure them in.
Frazier Tharpe is a staff writer for Complex. Follow him @The_SummerMan.
"Living So Italian" with Kanye West
"Let the Money Fall" f/ Kid Cudi
"The Hurt"/"Tell Me"/"Hot"
"Pop the Burner"
Untitled Raekwon Collab
Produced by: Mirk, Ant Rich
Intended for: The Blueprint 3
Legend has it: MTV reported on the existence of this track when a leaked press release hinted at its inclusion on a rumored Blueprint 3 re-release. Ant Rich, a Jive Records A&R, spoke on its origin:
“Mirk from the New Familiars produced a track (which I co-produced) that has a Regina Spektor sample in it … which is called ‘Crispy Benjamins,’ ” Rich told MTV News by e-mail. “Jay-Z purchased the track for The Blueprint 3, [but it] wound up not making the album. I was told by Jay Brown [who does A&R for Jay-Z’s Roc Nation imprint] that there was potential for the song to be used on a re-release. At some point, a press release was sent about the track using my contact information. Neither Mirk nor myself had ANYTHING to do with the press release. We are currently trying to find out who sent it out so we can clear up this matter.”
The funniest thing about re-reading the article six years later is how bemusing the idea of a Jay Z track sampling Regina Spektor is, at a time when the Drakes and Kid Cudis of the game were just starting to blow up off of "weird" musical moves in that vein. In 2015, it's more or less par for the course. Perhaps the blend didn't work quite as well for Hov and the track sounds like a misguided mess, or it just didn't fit with the rest of the album. Or, maybe Jay just bought the beat and never touched it, which would be a very 2009 and onward Jay Z thing to do.
"Sweep" f/ Drake
"Brooklyn's on the Way"
"She's Like That All the Time" f/ Mr Hudson
"Ray-Bans" with Jack White
Produced by: Jack White
Intended for: Unknown
Legend has it: Jay first revealed that he and Jack White had cemented their friendship on wax on a song titled "Ray-Bans" back in 2009 to Big Boy on Power 106. Then, a year later, Jack further explained to British GQ that the track was something he'd been working on that he played for Jay, who immediately started freestyling bars to it, and that the end result was "unbelievable-sounding." Photographic evidence of the two in the studio, accompanied by Beyoncé as well as the late Amy Winehouse, would soon follow. Fast forward to 2014 though, and White, talking to Rolling Stone, disclosed that the duo actually did several songs together, but he wasn't sure if Jay liked them. How the enthusiasm went from "unbelievable" to meh is anyone's guess. Pro-tip, though, bros: the only thing more lit than one-on-one investor-to-subscriber phone calls would be actually legitimizing that subscription with some exclusive heat. Just change the title since Ray-Bans aren't what they were in 2009 anymore, ya dig?