Ten years ago, you had two of the hottest artists in hip hop in Jay-Z and R. Kelly – both respective kings of their hometowns, and both were colliding together to make an album. While hip hop and R&B collaborations at the time were definitely a thing of the norm (the two have pretty much meshed into one another at this point) – it would be the first time that two artists of that caliber, from the world of hip hop and the world of R&B would combine. Complex recently interview the production duo of the Trackmasters, whose track record extends to major stars like Destiny’s Child, Will Smith, 50 Cent, Nas, Foxy Brown, and the two previously mentioned – and who were promoted to major positions at Columbia Records. We’d learn that the relationship between Kellz and Hov would be rocky from the start, from the beginning of the Best Of Both Worlds album all the way to the MSG Incident that sabotaged the entire tour.
When recording The Best Of Both Worlds, Tone & Poke of Trackmasters would state:
“That album came about because I lied. I told Jay that Rob wanted to make an album and I told Rob that Jay wanted to make an album. They were fans of each other. Working with both of them, I knew how they felt about each other. So I said it to each of them and then just played the dumb middle guy. Then they spoke on the phone and they wanted to do it. All I had to do at that point was get tracks. They made the entire album without ever being in studio together. They were in studio one time together between both albums and that was for press. Other than that, it was me out in Chicago.”
Later on, we were getting ready to shoot a video. I went to the studio with Jay and he told me, ‘Yo, your boy…’ I was like, ‘Who are you talking about?’ And he was like, ‘Your boy…it’s not gonna happen.’ I was like, ‘What’s not gonna happen?’
“Then he starts going into the story [about the sex tape]. At that time, it didn’t even hit the media yet. Jay got a heads-up call early. He said, ‘There’s a tape with your boy.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’
“Basically, someone gave Jay a heads-up that this tape was out there and that someone was about to leak it. Jay turned to me and said, ‘Yo, I can’t be attached to that.’ He didn’t know nothing about it, he didn’t know the girl. But he just said, ‘If that tape exists, I can’t have that.’”
When it cames to the Best Of Both Worlds Tour, things were much more disastrous than the making of the album:
“[The relationship between Jay-Z and R. Kelly] fell apart on tour. But it fell apart before [the infamous mase incident at MSG], that’s just when everyone got wind of it. It was doomed from opening night in Chicago. In fact, it was doomed before opening night when Jay would go to rehearsals and R. Kelly wouldn’t be there. They didn’t rehearse together at all for the tour. The very first time they stepped on stage side by side and looked at each other was opening night. It was the stupidest shit ever.
“The show was fucked up in Chicago because Jay ripped it. R. Kelly felt like the show was sabotaged, he felt like the lighting guy kept him in the dark and all the light was on Jay. It was this whole thing so Jay was like, ‘Okay, let’s just change all the people. Who do you want to work with?’ R. Kelly changed the entire crew to his people.
“The entire [MSG incident] was premeditated by R. Kelly to sabotage the New York City show. The Chicago show was [was in R. Kelly’s hometown] and it was fucked up for R. Kelly. So I think R. Kelly just stayed on the tour until it got to [Jay-Z’s hometown] New York. Nothing happened [at the MSG show]. Zero happened there. I did Jay’s sound for the show, I did his music so I was the que guy. They come out, they do their thing, and Jay comes on and destroys NYC the way he’s gonna destroy NYC. We’d been doing this so long that there’s a que. R. Kelly wasn’t where he was supposed to be. I told everybody backstage, ‘It’s over, it’s over!’ I didn’t even think he was coming on stage because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be.
Read the entire article over at Complex, it’s a pretty damn good write-up if you ask me.
Photo Credit: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images
And check out Celebterview’s review on Best Of Both Worlds, calling the ‘Best Collaboration Album’ ever.