Not many rap fans know this, but for The Black Album, Jay-Z’s original plan was to have 12 tracks produced by 12 different producers.
Hov wanted The Neptunes, Just Blaze, Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, Rick Rubin, Swizz Beatz, Kanye West, Trackmasters, Eminem, DJ Quik, Ski and Timbaland to all contribute to his retirement album. Unfortunately, this didn’t pan out, we didn’t get to have Dre and Premo produce for Jay on the same album.
But for his 2006 comeback album, Kingdom Come, Dr. Dre was the first name on Jay-Z’s list. The two rap titans had already collaborated a number times in the past, most notably on “Watch Me” off Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter, “The Watcher 2” on The Blueprint 2 and, of course, Jay-Z writing “Still D.R.E.” for Dre and Snoop. But this time, Dre’s production contributions were going to be more substantial.
Around this time, Hov was busy running around being the Def Jam president and not focused on making a new album, but Dre hit him up with a bunch of beats out, and it was on from there.
“Dre just called me out of nowhere,” Jay-Z recalled in an interview with XXL. “And he just said, ‘Yo I’m in Hawaii, I’m about to send you something.’ Now Dre, you know, he’s not a tape making person. He sent me about like 25 beats, and it was gone from there. It was like, Okay, this is a problem right now. You know, 25 Dre beats, I mean, what the fuck.”
“Actually we was going to do the whole album together but I knew that wouldn’t work, only because it’s Dr. Dre and Jay-Z, you know, its very difficult to get those two guys in a room together. Dre, he’s a creative guy so you can’t push those kind of guys.
Dre producing the entire Kingdom Come didn’t end up happening, but the legendary producer did contribute four production credits on the album: “Lost One”, “30 Something”, “Trouble” and “Minority Report.”
Three years removed from his last album, Kingdom Come became one of Jay-Z’s biggest albums, selling 680,000 in its first week and becoming Hov’s number one first week opener.