The rumors were true.
A joint album with Beyonce and JAY-Z does exist, in one form another, but was left on the cutting room floor… for now.
In a new interview with New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, 2018’s leading Grammy nominated artist says the joint record happened organically – a way for them both to sort out their relationship wreckage – but Beyonce decided to finish recording Lemonade instead.
Here’s a copy + paste excerpt from that interview:
BAQUET I’m trying to picture the scene when you and your wife both talked about making these very confessional, open albums. Was it difficult to say: “I’m gonna talk about the problems in our marriage. I’m gonna talk about how we almost lost things.” And for her to say: “I’m gonna talk about my pain and anger at you.” What were those conversations like?
JAY-Z Again, it didn’t — it didn’t happen in that way. It happened — we were using our art almost like a therapy session. And we started making music together.
And then the music she was making at that time was further along. So her album came out as opposed to the joint album that we were working on. Um, we still have a lot of that music. And this is what it became. There was never a point where it was like, “I’m making this album.” I was right there the entire time.
BAQUET And what was her reaction to your work and what was your reaction to hers? They must have caused pain for each of you, right?
JAY-Z Of course. And both very, very uncomfortable, but […] the best place in the, you know, hurricane is like in the middle of it.
JAY-Z We were sitting in the eye of that hurricane. Uh, maybe not use hurricane because so many people are being affected right now. [This interview took place nine days after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, on the heels of two other devastating hurricanes, Irma and Harvey, that struck the U.S. mainland.]
JAY-Z But the best place is right in the middle of the pain.
JAY-Z And that’s where we were sitting. And it was uncomfortable. And we had a lot of conversations. You know. [I was] really proud of the music she made, and she was really proud of the art I released. And, you know, at the end of the day we really have a healthy respect for one another’s craft. I think she’s amazing.
You know, most people walk away, and like divorce rate is like 50 percent or something ’cause most people can’t see themselves. The hardest thing is seeing pain on someone’s face that you caused, and then have to deal with yourself.
Lemonade is Beyonce’s best work to-date, so her decision to pursue solo music at the time instead was wise.