Producer 88 Keys Recalls Working With Jay-Z and Kanye West For ‘Watch The Throne’

The production you hear when Watch Throne begins to play comes from New Jersey native 88 Keys. A longtime friend of Kanye and well respected hip-hop producer, 88 spoke to Billboard on his contribution to The Throne’s opening track “No Church In The Wild.”

“Everybody in the room just started going crazy,” 88-Keys said. An hour later, they had singled out the beat that would become “No Church in the Wild.” Kanye told 88-Keys what additions he wanted made, “add an extra kick drum on there… a heavier bass line and strings,” 88-Keys says ‘Ye suggested

The next day, 88-Keys met Frank Ocean for the first time and heard the chorus as well as an unreleased spoken word portion. “He was pretty quiet,” he says. “He actually had a talking intro part that he put on there.  I thought it was pretty dope, it was pretty comical.  But I guess it didn’t make the final cut.”

Over the next few days, Jay-Z recorded his 16 bars and Kanye recorded an eight-bar verse. For a while, the song remained unfinished. “I didn’t actually hear the final product ’til the morning of the listening at the Planetarium [on Aug. 1].

“No Church in the Wild” was “just what they needed for the album — a different sound.” “It made me feel appreciated and welcome,” 88-Keys said.