In 2002, Kanye West, along with Just Blaze, was one of the star producers of the Roc-A-Fella empire. Fresh off the success of Jay-Z’s The Blueprint on which Kanye produced four of the 13 tracks, including his first hit single “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” he became one of the most in-demand producers in the game.
But that wasn’t enough for Kanye. He didn’t want to just be seen as the A-list producer who was making over $50,000 per beat, he wanted to be respected as a rapper too.
“I think there will be one point, some glimmering moment in time where I will be the no. 1 rap artist in the rap game, period,” he predicted in a 2003 interview with Complex. “The thing is, that’s not to take away from anybody, but everybody has their moment. Everybody gets their moment to shine.”
That moment would come on Hov’s seventh album, The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse. During the making of the Timbaland-produced cut, “The Bounce,” Kanye would ask Jay-Z to let him rap on the song. Although the Chicago producer-rapper had previously made an uncredited appearance on “Never Change,” this would mark the first time that Kanye rapped on a Jay-Z song.
Kanye: The only thing I ever asked Jay-Z for was to perform at the Tweeter Center at Chicago last summer, to perform at Madison Square Garden, and to be on The Blueprint 2. I begged him. I went to Ty-Ty and I begged Ty-Ty because that’s his best friend, and that’s how I ended up on The Blueprint 2. There are going to be people reading this right now, who don’t know that was me on there on “The Bounce” because my name wasn’t on the first print and I didn’t say my name. From that point, that’s why I started saying “Kanye-to-the” before my verses.Kanye West Talks “The College Dropout” and His Relationship with Jay Z in 2003 | Complex
It would be the first of many rapping collaborations between Jay-Z and Kanye. Hov would make several appearances on Kanye’s future releases, including “Never Let Me Down”, “Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix),” “Monster” and “So Appalled,” while Kanye would return the favour with a career-defining performance on “Run This Town.” Their musical partnership would culminate with 2011’s Watch the Throne which featured the previous Roc-A-Fella producer going bar-to-bar with his icon and mentor.