Despite the fact that they always have bandmates, posses or entourages around them at all times, musicians tend to be singular entities. The ego required to command a stage, construct a compelling public persona and manipulate the emotional response of thousands of people at a time tends to be alienating, which is why there are so many lone wolves out there (and why so many groups break up). But every once in a while, a pair of superstars will come together for a collaboration that immediately becomes historic even before anything is executed. Such is the case with Jay-Z and Eminem, who announced a pair of September shows that will take them to baseball stadiums in their respective hometowns. Slim Shady will headline the gig at Detroit's Comerica Park on September 2 while Jigga will be top-billed at Yankee Stadium in New York on September 13.
While they have never done shows this special at this scale, this is hardly the first time the two MCs — arguably the two biggest names in the rap world today, and both shoo-ins for the Hall of Fame — have tag-teamed on a project. In order to prepare yourself for the two shows, check out all of the things that have brought them together in the past few years.
Jay-Z featuring Eminem, "Renegade"
This rugged cut from Jigga's classic 2001 album The Blueprint not only features a sweet bit of lyrical tomfoolery from Slim Shady (sample line: "I'm a poet to some/ A regular modern day Shakespeare/ Jesus Christ the King of these Latter Day Saints/ Here to shatter the picture in which of that as they paint me/ As a monger of hate and Satan/ A scatter-brained atheist") but also has a beat produced by Em. Mr. Mathers' resume as an MC is untouchable, but he has a spottier history as a producer. But he is totally on point on "Renegade," wrapping an unsettling bassline around cinematic strings and some horrorcore keyboards.
Jay-Z, "Moment of Clarity"
Jay must have been satisfied with the "Renegade" collabo, as he invited Eminem back behind the boards for a track on Jay's "retirement" joint The Black Album. It's another quiet storm of a track, with a thick bass and drum groove and an anthemic chorus. Shady doesn't drop any verses, but his fingerprints are all over one of the best tracks on the album. Not every MC can handle Eminem's production, but Jay appears to be one of the few (along with, uh, Obie Trice) who can pull it off.
The hit 2009 video game "DJ Hero" was built around a number of mash-ups, the highlight of which was the mix of Jay's "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" and Eminem's "My Name Is." The pair were brought together for the special "Renegade Edition" of the game, and they even performed together at a special show in Los Angeles during the lead-up to the title's release. Since then, they've delivered three more downloadable mash-ups: Em's "Shake That" mixed with Jay's "Show Me What You Got,"
"Without Me" teamed with "Encore" and "Lose Yourself" stitched together with "Can I Get A..." All excellent? Of course.
What's your favorite collaboration between Jay-Z and Eminem? Let us know in the comments!