Watch the Throne is the crowning glory for Jay-Z and Kanye West's 2012 UK tour - tickets on sale Friday 24th Feb

Posted: 21st February 2012

You can imagine that being Christmas-present or birthday-gift choosing partners to these two must be a nightmare - I mean, what do you buy two award-winning, empire-building music executives with more money than Greece? (Actually, I've probably got more money than Greece).

Both Jay-Z and Kanye West are truly the king of kings within rap's royalty, although pronouncing either of them as more superior than the other may just start an ego world war of some considerable proportion. Thankfully, the award-winning pair has seen fit to gel, write and produce a succession of successful collaborative tracks that have aided them in switching their choice of car from a Corsa to a Cadillac (possibly). Mantelpieces groan with awards, accolades fill column-inches in the quality press and their names adorn hundreds of recent chart hits, both here and in the US.

Their working relationship stretches back to the late '90s when West was assigned to Jay-Z's Roc-a-Fella Records as a producer, striking gold with the label owner's own 'The Blueprint' album in 2001 (already his sixth full-length set by this time). Other production duties reads like a 'who's who' of urban and hip-hop and include Beyonce, Drake, Nas, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Foxy Brown and dozens more. Tough electro-beats and pitched-up vocals have been a trademark sound of West's, although he probably didn't touch the 'pitch' button on the console when remixing Justin Bieber's 'Never Say Never', last year [didn't he tweak it down? - Ed].

Jay-Z's notoriety stretches beyond the realms of being dissed by rappers - a certain Mr Gallagher choked on his cuppa when a certain Mr Carter was added to the bill at Glastonbury a few years back. But, in fairness, he delivered (as if he needed to prove a point in the first place - 50 million sales suggests not). From his debut album 'Reasonable Doubt' in 1996, up to this year's #1 blast 'Watch the Throne', Jay-Z has evolved into one of the world's most successful rappers in history.

Previously a chart-topper in five countries, 'Watch the Throne' is the result of almost 12 months of sessions with the twosome, plus RZA, Swiss Beats and other renowned cohorts. Initially an EP, the project mushroomed into a full-length beast, unleashed at the tail end of last year. Critical responses were favourable and the album was nominated for a few Grammys - job done. Well, not quite.

Jay-Z and Kanye West still have the UK and Europe to conquer, something they will be doing in May. They've chosen London's O2 Arena as the first stop on 20th May, marking their first joint appearance on these shores, with further shows confirmed for Manchester (11th June) and Birmingham (13th June), after a quick trip to Ireland (Dublin on 8th June).

We will have tickets on sale from Friday morning at 9am, all of which are expected to sell out within minutes, so prepare to be patient. Prices for UK dates range from £39.50 to £60 (€69.50 - €79.50 for Dublin).

Paul Pledger