When Jay Z and Kanye West first met in the early 2000s, theirs was a relationship of mutual respect, with Jigga taking on the role of mentor/big brother to Yeezy. Since then, though, their relationship has continued to evolve and develop. In 2011, they formed the rap supergroup The Throne, establishing themselves as two golden gods on equal footing high above the rap fray. While they’ve remained friends, a new dynamic of their relationship arose when both released solo albums last year, with several outlets exploring their divergent marketing approaches as representing a profound bifurcation of the industry and of West beginning to eclipse his “hero”.
Next fall, their unique relationship and iconic status will be thoroughly dissected in an English class at the University of Missouri. (The course first debuted during fall 2013). Simply entitled “Jay-Z and Kanye West”, English 2169 looks at the duo’s intertwined careers from three perspectives: “(1) Where do they fit within, and how do they change, the history of hip-hop music?; (2) How is what they do similar to and different from what poets do?, and (3) How does their rise to both celebrity and corporate power alter what we understand as the American dream?” Course material includes “Jay-Z’s Decoded; histories of and critical works on rap music by Jeff Chang, Adam Bradley, and others; and one or two good studies of how poetry works.”