Jay-Z and Kanye West have been intrinsically linked for at least as long as the latter of the two has been making music. Signed to Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records for his entire career, Kanye first made a name for himself when he produced several key tracks on his "big brother's" legendary album The Blueprint. Through the years, the two have collaborated on all sorts of classic songs and finally made their marriage official by releasing a joint album, Watch the Throne, in 2011.
Recently, though, their collaborative nature has moved in a surprising direction. To put it bluntly, Jay-Z has become the "Kanye West" of the union. Here are five reasons why ...
#5. Jay-Z Is Now the More Fashion Conscious of the Two
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Kanye West is what those of us who speak fluent fashion industry jargon refer to as "a snappy dresser." Or at least that used to be the case. Remember when he was wearing pink polo shirts with popped collars and nobody laughed? Of course not, we all laughed, but if we're being honest with ourselves, it was more of an uncomfortable "We secretly think he looks kind of good as the villain from an '80s teen movie" kind of laugh than anything.
Evan Agostini/Getty Images
He could really fill out an argyle sweater in his day.
Kanye West used to date a model and, goddammit, he dressed like it.
Rob Loud/Getty Images
A model with dude hair, though, so it barely counted.
And now, everyone say it with me, he's dating Kim Kardashian and, goddammit, he dresses like it.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Gray patch or sweat stain? You decide!
Obviously, that's not Kim Kardashian posing with Kanye in that picture, and you're a dick if you thought that was the joke I was going to make. That's New York real estate tycoon Aby Rosen, and that raises an obvious question. Why does Kanye West look like the slob in that picture? "New York real estate tycoon" is like the seventh sleaziest profession on earth, but somehow this picture looks like the scene in The Pursuit of Happyness where Will Smith shows up to an important job interview in a dirty T-shirt and with paint stains on his face. Even better, here's a shot of Kanye West at a fashion show wearing the same Canadian tuxedo and white high top combo that your dad was wearing the night he knocked up your mom at a Warrant concert in 1987.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
Kim Kardashian is captain of the varsity disinterest squad.
Meanwhile, in the video for the first single from that legendary Blueprint album where Kanye West's name first started popping up in the production credits, Jay-Z looked like this ...
... and this ...
... and, holy shit, this:
That's Jay-Z making one of the boldest "fashion" choices a man can make. He's wearing a basketball jersey, without a T-shirt underneath it, in public. Perfectly acceptable dress if, say, you're a professional basketball player. At the very least you should be playing basketball if you're in that kind of get-up. As it stands, though, there's no reason for Jay-Z and Damon Dash to be shirts and skins-ing it on that stage.
Everything changed a few years after that unfortunate jersey incident when Jay-Z began dating Destiny's Child lead singer Beyonce Knowles in one of the biggest coups in dating history since Bobby landed Whitney. And now, he wears shit like this:
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Please note the potentially matching fur coats.
Granted, that picture was taken at the president's inauguration, where failing to dress up means an almost guaranteed beating at the hands of a Secret Service agent, but still, look at those glasses!
Remember that picture of Kanye West looking less handsome than some old white dude? Check out how Jay-Z handles that same situation.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images
His tie is made of machismo.
You know what? Forget that he looks better than Clive Davis and whoever the other white guy is; he even looks better than John Legend. That guy probably can't wake up in the middle of the night to take a piss without putting on a fresh suit, and Jay-Z is killing him in that picture.
It wasn't always this way. It wasn't this way at all. And fashion isn't the only area where Jay-Z has taken a turn for the Kanye.
#4. Jay-Z Is the "Artsy" One Now
Noel Vasquez/Getty Images
Kanye West had a blog way back when people had blogs, and when he wasn't using it to complain about shit, he used it to introduce the world to barely known artists. I don't mean "artists" as in new musicians, I mean actual artists. As you can see in this Complex magazine slideshow, which should be taken out back and beaten for not having a "view as article" button, the list of names he gave special attention to on his blog reads like a who's who of the modern art world.
Case in point, who the fuck is this?
I assume it does, anyway, but don't correct me if I'm wrong. I don't even sort of care.
It wouldn't be accurate to say that Kanye has completely lost his "artistic" leanings. His videos are still pretty "avant-gardy," to quote Lil' Kim at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards, and he even went to the pretentious trouble of debuting the video for the lead single from his Yeezus album on the side of a building in New York.
NME via Recent Online News
There goes the ... YEborhood, get it?!?!?
Debuting a video one street corner at a time is definitely strange, but at the same time, it's kind of a cool and unique way to tell the world about your new album (more on that later). For an "artsy" move to really have an impact on the audience, there has to be some element to it that makes you say, "Now just what the fuck is this all about?" With that in mind, have a look at this:
That's just over two already sort of bizarre minutes of footage from Jay-Z's recent appearance at an art gallery in New York called Pace, where he did a "performance piece" that consisted of him rapping the same goddamn song for six consecutive hours. You know who needs to hear the same song for six hours? No one. People trying to memorize a song don't even need to listen to it for that long.
Not that Kanye West didn't hit the art gallery circuit to promote his new album, of course. Just prior to the release of Yeezus, he took to a Swedish art gallery and ... organized a last minute listening party. That makes perfect sense, and sense is the last thing I've come to expect from the words "Kanye West at an art gallery." The entire world is turning upside down right now. And there's more.
#3. Jay-Z Is a Bigger Bother to the President
Remember when Kanye West said George Bush doesn't care about black people on national television? GW called it the lowest point of his presidency, which, as we've pointed out previously, means that Kanye West on the Hurricane Katrina benefit was basically George Bush's 9/11. That's odd, given that 9/11 also happened during the Bush presidency, but hey, we all handle adversity in different ways.
Even with all of that taken into consideration, President Obama only wishes his Jay-Z problems were so minor. It's fairly common knowledge that American citizens aren't supposed to travel to Cuba, but Jay-Z and Beyonce did just that in April of this year to celebrate their wedding anniversary. When Republicans naturally erupted in a fiery ball of questions for the president about the legality of the trip and who authorized it, Obama didn't even have a chance to respond before Jay-Z answered everyone and made it rhyme, no less.
That song is called "Open Letter," and in less than three minutes, it made things even worse for Mr. Carter's good friend Barack Obama with this line addressing the Cuba trip:
"Boy from the hood but got White House clearance."
Just like that, Jay-Z became like 97 of the president's 99 problems. Things have reached such a head that the House Appropriations Committee recently introduced the "Jay-Z and Beyonce Bill," which aims to put even further restrictions on travel to Cuba.
As a result of that one trip, Obama has had to put himself in the uncomfortable position of being the only guy in the United States who has to pretend he doesn't like Jay-Z anymore.
Kanye West might have hurt President Bush's feelings, but at least no one had to write new laws over it.