Def Jam Records star R&B artist and producer/songwriter The-Dream has added some context to the creation of Jay-Z’s just-released twelfth album, Magna Carta Holy Grail. In a new interview with Diddy’s Revolt TV, he opened up about the mysterious LP.
According to The-Dream, who just released his own IV Play album, Jay’s latest album started during the sessions from 2011’s Watch The Throne joint-album with Kanye West. Talking about M.C.H.G.‘s album opener, the Atlanta, Georgia native explained, “‘Holy Grail,’ actually, that record was the first record actually done for this album. I did it sometime between—actually it was [while] finishing Watch The Throne. ‘No Church [In The Wild]’ hadn’t been done yet. ‘Otis’ hadn’t been done. But they knew which records were [making the album].” The-Dream worked on 2011’s “No Church In The Wild” as well as “Holy Grail.” Both album-openers were co-produced, with an ensemble of 88-Keys and Mike Dean on the former, and Timbaland and No I.D. on the latter.
Following 2011, The-Dream and Jay-Z stayed in touch about the loose concept. “I remember hittin’ [Jay-Z], lettin’ him know that I wanted to start on his album, that I had an idea.” Jay reportedly wanted to know more. “I sent him ‘Holy Grail,'” noted the Radio Killa founder. “I just felt like it was going into that [Leonardo] Davinci place, and so I wanted to write that record.” To The-Dream, ironically, the 2013 record sealed the fate of the joint they would later record in New York City’s Mercer Hotel for Watch The Throne. “I don’t even know if ‘No Church In The Wild’ is even done without ‘Holy Grail’ initiating [its creation].”
Although Magna Carta Holy Grail is largely associated with Timbaland, Swizz Beatz and Rick Rubin’s musical ear, The-Dream says his role could be easily downplayed, “The only place I wasn’t, was probably in that fuckin’ [Samsung] commercial.”
Two years removed from Watch The Throne, when The-Dream and Jay-Z crossed paths again, the recording was impromptu. “We wasn’t even there to be workin’ with Jay; we was there fuckin’ with [Beyonce]. He was there, just chillin’ [mimics Jay-Z listening to songs]. He heard that one fuckin’ record like, ‘Oh shit? Nigga, let’s go.’ And the shit took off.” It’s unclear which record The-Dream is referring to. The superstar songstress appeared on “Turnt,” from IV Play.
The-Dream says that Jay’s enthusiasm prompted a rapid recording schedule that mirrors that of Tupac Shakur’s All Eyez On Me sessions from nearly 20 years ago. “That was literally about—the body [of Magna Carta Holy Grail]—two weeks of work.” With several songs already made, The-Dream says that Jay-Z plugged away at his latest. “The significant part of this album, the body: two weeks.”
RELATED: Jay-Z featuring Justin Timberlake – “Holy Grail” [VIDEO]