By Tiffany Lewars
Amidst a confused fall, a Cruel Summer emerges. The long-awaited GOOD Music artists’ compilation album has finally graced hip hop with its presence. But while critics are all abuzz about the album, my question is: WWJS? (What would Jay-Z Say?)
I know there are more pressing issues concerning Cruel Summer. Why is Common only featured on one track? But with Kanye West mashing up with R. Kelly on the album’s introductory song, “To The World,” I can’t help but imagine what Ye’s “big brother,” Jay-Z, had to say about the two Chi-town natives hooking up for this project.
While Jay-Z and R. Kelly used to be longtime friends, their “strong” friendship quickly weakened when the two decided to work together for The Best of Both Worlds albums, two 2002 compilations highlighting Jay-Z as the largest force in hip hop and R. Kelly as the king of R&B. During the tour in support of The Best of Both Worlds, R. Kelly made a habit of bowing out of shows early, claiming he felt threatened by someone in the crowd, leaving Jay-Z to carry the shows on his own. R. Kelly ultimately dropped off the tour, causing an immediate and permanent rift between the two superstars.
Of course, Jay could not tell Mr. West with whom to work, but I wonder if there were any words exchanged about the two hooking up.
As a longtime R. Kelly fan, I was very excited about the two Chicago natives working together, as I felt it was long overdue. “To The World” is not only a lyrical flipping-of-the-bird, but it also flips off anyone who would have anything to say about R. Kelly stepping back into the limelight — and with his frenemy’s closest friend at that.
So has time healed a scarred friendship or is R. Kelly quite frankly not giving a fuck? Either way, I love it.