‘Big Brother’: How Kanye West paid tribute to Jay-Z
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'Big Brother': How Kanye West paid tribute to Jay-Z

Kanye West is a legend and has been a prominent artist in hip-hop for the best part of two decades. However, he was operated underneath other artists before he came into his own. Born in Atlanta, Kanye moved to Chicago with his mother, Donda West, when she got a job at Chicago State University. The star moved to the city aged three, so naturally, Kanye considers it his hometown.

While in Chicago, West developed his love for art, and it is common knowledge among his fans that he was a great drawer. However, after getting accepted to college for art, he dropped out in pursuit of a music career as a producer. In the early 1990s, Kanye worked with underground rappers in ‘The Windy City’ and connected with other producers and artists. However, No I.D. was one of the most critical individuals Kanye encountered in his quest to achieve fame as a beatmaker. During the 1990s, No I.D. worked with Common, a well-known Chicago emcee. The producer’s mother knew Donda West, and as a result, the two musicians got acquainted with each other.

Speaking with the online music publication Billboard magazine, No I.D. (real name Ernest Wilson) recalled the exact day he met West, recounting, “The first song he played me called ‘Green Eggs & Ham.’ It was real super-early, ’90s-sounding, yelling type of hip-hop record with a computer keyboard beat that was really quite funny. He was in his group [State of Mind] for that song.” No I.D. continued to develop Kanye’s talents and taught him the tricks of the trade. Wilson Continued, “Eventually, I built a studio in my home, and he’d come over. He was always trying to prove himself, and he kept getting better and better.”

No I.D. was West’s manager for a short period, but he couldn’t handle his temperamental nature. However, knowing the budding producer needed a home, he introduced West to Kyambo Joshua, the A&R of Roc-A-Fella and the CEO of a production house named Hip-Hop. In 1998 Joshua signed Kanye to the roster of Hip-Hop.

In 1999, Joshua presented Jay-Z with one of Kanye’s beats. The instrumental for ‘This Can’t Be Life’ featuring Beanie Sigel and Scarface. It would appear on Jay-Z’s 2000 album, The Dynasty: Roc-La-Familia. Constantly looking for Kyambo Joshua to provide him with beats, the Brooklyn rapper quickly realised that west was far superior to the rest of Joshua’s roster.

Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) continued to use West’s beats, and although he was hesitant at first, in 2002, he signed West as an artist. Carter originally was insistent that Kanye would only be able to sign a production deal. However, when other labels began taking interest, he quickly signed West as an artist. Between 2002 and 2004, West began recording his debut album College Dropout and from there the rest was history and Ye was thankful that Jay-Z had signed him.

However, the two had a great relationship until around 2013, when Kanye proposed to Kim Kardashian. Ever since that year, the two were no longer brothers like they had been previously. According to Jay-Z’s Rap Radar interview, what got between him and Kanye was West’s rant about his family. Elaborating the Brooklyn rapper explained, “What really hurt me was, you can’t bring my wife and my kids into it…Like, Kanye is my little brother. He’s talked about me a hundred times. He even made a song called ‘Big Brother.’ We’ve gotten past bigger issues. But you brought my family into it; now it’s a problem…You know it’s a problem because me and him would have been talked about it, been resolved our issues. And he knows crossed the line.”

The ‘Big Brother’ song Carter referenced in the interview featured on Kanye’s 2007 album Graduation. The song is a tribute to Jay-Z, and mentions the role of No I.D. in his career with the chorus stating, “My big brother was Big’s brother, used to be Dame and Big’s brother / Who was hip-hop [Kyambo Joshua] brother, who was No I.D friend / No I.D my mentor now let the story begin.” The song was made as a heartfelt tribute to Jay-Z. But was made before their falling out.

You can hear ‘Big Brother’ in the video below.