The-Dream Explains How Jay Z’s “Holy Grail” Inspired Half Of Watch The Throne

Super-producer The-Dream is the latest artist to be recruited by Genius to annotate some of his biggest hits. His list of annotations is pretty extensive, covering his solo work and the songs he’s produced for Beyoncé, Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, and more, plus some of them even include a back-and-forth between him and his frequent collaborator Tricky Stewart. One of his more interesting behind-the-scenes details comes from his annotations about Jay Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne, where he basically says that the album’s sound was changed significantly because Jay Z didn’t want to give up “Holy Grail” as a single for his next solo album. From the notes on “No Church In The Wild“:

As they were wrapping up Watch The Throne, Jay says, “Are we finished? Is this it? Okay, cool, I want to play you a record that’s gonna be on my album.” He plays “Holy Grail,” and of course a shitstorm happens. Kanye’s not an idiot.
Kanye says “This track is crazy, it needs to be on Watch The Throne.”
And Jay says, “No, that’s a single from my album.” And that’s how I got the phone call asking me to try to do a record close to that one.

I get to New York, and we’re at the Mercer Hotel, working. We had the whole floor. I get in, Frank Ocean’s sitting there, and they’re just starting on “No Church in The Wild.”

So “Holy Grail” itself inspired them to change Watch the Throne. Because of that record, six other records got made at that point, including “Otis.”

Check out all of The-Dream’s annotations here.