From “03 Bonnie and Clyde” to Everything Is Love.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z have been together for 16 years, an absolute eternity in the world of celebrity relationships. For the most part, they maintain tight control of their image as a blissful, mature couple, but that started to change in 2014, when TMZ released footage of the elevator fight that broke the internet. Though their long-prophesied divorce never came to pass, their relationship returned to the spotlight in 2016 with the release of Beyoncé’s Lemonade and again this month with the release of their joint album Everything Is Love. Below, a recap of everything that’s gone down between them, from “03 Bonnie and Clyde” and “Crazy In Love” to the On the Run tour and Becky with the good hair.
1997–2000: Jay-Z and Beyoncé meet at some point. In a 2008 Seveteen Cover Story, Bey said she met Jay when she was 18, so in late 1999 or 2000, and in a 2007 Charlie Rose interview, Jay said he’d met Bey “10 years ago,” or in 1997.
November 2001: They appear on the cover of Vanity Fair‘s music issue with David Bowie, Beck, Gwen Stefani, and more. In a 2013 VFinterview, Jay says that during that first shoot, they were “just beginning to try to date each other,” and joked that he had to “wine and dine” her.
October 2002: Beyoncé appears on Jay-Z’s “03 Bonnie and Clyde,” marking the first of many musical collaborations between the two.
November 2002: They appear on MTV’s TRL to promote “03 Bonnie and Clyde.” A few giggles notwithstanding, they seem to deliberately act like everything is strictly professional. Beyoncé also notes that they “met a long time ago.”
February 2003: Bey and Jay attend the NBA All-Star Game together and are seen at several more basketball games throughout the spring.
April 2003: Jay-Z downplays his relationship with Beyoncé in a Playboy interview. “We’re just cool,” he said. “We’re just friends.”
May 2003: Beyoncé releases her first solo single, “Crazy In Love,” featuring Jay-Z. Given the song’s lyrical content, it becomes increasingly hard to believe that these two are not involved.
June 2003: Beyoncé releases her first solo album, Dangerously In Love. On the severely underrated “Signs” with Missy Elliott, Bey sings about being in love with a Sagittarius. Jay-Z, born Dec. 4, is a Sagittarius.
August 2003: They perform “Crazy In Love” at the MTV Video Music Awards.
November 2003: Jay-Z releases The Black Album. On the song “Public Service Announcement,” he says he’s “got the hottest chick in the game wearin’ my chain.” At the end of the month, Beyoncé appears at Jay’s “retirement” concert at Madison Square Garden, where they sing “Crazy In Love” together.
August 2004: Beyoncé and Jay-Z make their first red-carpet appearance together, at the MTV VMAs.
2005: Rumors circulate that Jay is hooking up with his new protégé Rihanna. In his 2015 unauthorized biography Becoming Beyoncé, J. Randy Taraborrelli claims these rumors were planted to drum up publicity for Rihanna.
September 2006: Beyoncé releases B’Day on her 25th birthday. The album features two collaborations with Jay-Z, “Déjà Vu” and “Upgrade U.” In the music video for the latter, she dresses like him.
B’Day also features “Ring the Alarm” and “Resentment,” two songs purported to be about Jay-Z’s alleged affair with Rihanna. Beyoncé’s father, Mathew Knowles,releases a statement implying that these rumors are just an attempt to sabotage his daughter’s album release.
November 2006: Jay-Z releases Kingdom Come. In the song “Lost One,” Jay raps these lyrics: “I don’t think it’s meant to be, B / But she loves her work more than she does me / And honestly, at 23 / I would probably love my work more than I did she.” In his book Decoded, Jay wrote, “These lines are about trying to have a real, serious relationship with another ambitious professional.”
January 2007: Jay-Z releases “Hollywood,” his Kingdom Come collaboration with Beyoncé.
April 2008: On April 4, Beyoncé and Jay-Z marry. in a super-private ceremony at Jay’s apartment. No photos are released of the event, but wedding videos later appear in footage for the “On the Run” tour and in Lemonade. In a 2009 interview with oprah winfrey, Jay says that “maybe 30” people were there.
January 2009: They attend the inauguration of President Barack Obama
October 2010: Rumors circulate that Beyoncé is pregnant. Beyoncé’s mom, Tina Knowles, denies it in an interview with Access Hollywood.
May 2011: Jay posts an extremely cute video of Beyoncé rehearsing backstage for American Idol. “Sometimes you need perspective,” he wrote. “You’ve been right in front of greatness so often that you need to step back and see it again for the first time…NO MICROPHONE. No effects.”
August 2011: Beyoncé appears on “Lift Off” with Jay-Z and Kanye West, from their collaborative album Watch the Throne. Later that month, Beyoncé reveals she’s pregnant during a performance of “Love on Top” at the VMAs.
January 2012: Beyoncé gives birth to Blue Ivy Carter. Ten days later, Jay releases “Glory,” featuring a sample of Blue crying.
February 2012: Beyoncé shares the first photos of Blue on Tumblr.
April 2012: Bey and Jay reportedly renew their vows in a private ceremony.
May 2012: Jay tweets that Beyoncé is “the best performer in the world. Period.”
"I'm gonna say this and then I'm gonna end mine." BEYONCE is the best performer in the world. Period.
— Mr. Carter (@S_C_) May 26, 2012
January 2013: They attend President Barack Obama’s inauguration, where Beyoncé sings the national anthem.
Also that month, rumors begin calculating that Jay-Z is having an affair with Rita Ora.
February 2013: HBO airs Beyoncé’s documentary Life Is But a Dream, which features plenty of footage where Bey and Jay look happy and in love. In an Oprah interview the same weekend, Beyoncé says she suffered a miscarriage before getting pregnant with Blue.
April 2013: Beyoncé and Jay-Z travel to Cuba to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. Despite rumblings to the contrary, the U.S. Treasury Department eventually concludes that the trip was legal.
July 2013: Jay-Z releases Magna Carta Holy Grail. Beyoncé appears on the song “Part II (On the Run).”
August 2013: Rapper and model Liv claims that Jay-Z hit on her back in 2008, but she declined his advances out of respect for Beyoncé.
November 2013: Belgian beauty queen Claudia Scheelen claims that Jay-Z sent her drinks in a European nightclub, and says he did not mention Beyoncé or Blue during their conversation.
December 2013: Beyoncé stops the world with her self-titled surprise visual album. Jay-Z features on “Drunk In Love,” a song that seems to confirm that the couple have an extremely healthy sex life. (Surfbort.)
However, the album also includes darker tunes “Jealous” and “Mine,” both of which explore trouble in a relationship.
January 2014: Bey and Jay perform “Drunk In Love” at the Grammys. It is hot.
February 2014: A French newspaper claims that Beyoncé is having an affair with President Obama. Beyoncé’s spokesperson dismisses the rumor as “absurd.”
April 2014: Rita Ora denies the Jay-Z affair rumors during an interview on power 105.1, after being asked if she and Jay are “boinking.” “Don’t you dare disrespect Beyoncé like that ever again in your entire life,” she replied. “You should know better than that. That’s just straight-up disrespect.” Beyoncé and Jay-Z also announce their joint On the Run concert tour.
May 2014: Beyoncé and Jay-Z attend the Met Gala together. The day after the event, Beyoncé shares a photo of herself wearing an Aaliyah shirt (this will be important later).
One week after the Met Gala, TMZ releases footage of Bey’s sister Solange attacking Jay in an elevator at an after-party. Rumors immediately circulate that Solange was upset at Jay for his philandering, specifically with Rachel Roy. The family releases a statement to the Associated Press about the incident, saying that they’ve “worked through it” and everyone is moving on. “At the end of the day families have problems and we’re no different,” the statement continues. “We love each other and above all we are family. We’ve put this behind us and hope everyone else will do the same.”
Around this time, reports also claim that Beyoncé is having the IV tattoo on her ring finger removed, though it appears two years later in undated Lemonade footage. On the 18th, Jay and Bey release a fake movie trailer to promote the On the Run tour.
On May 24, Beyoncé posts a selfie confirming that she did not attend Kim Kardashian’s wedding to Kanye West. Though multiple theories abound as to why she didn’t go, the one that sticks is that she was trying to avoid Rachel Roy, a close friend of Kim’s. When Rachel’s name comes up again in 2016, conspiracy theorists point to the aforementioned Aaliyah shirt as evidence of Jay’s infidelity with Rachel. (Rachel’s ex-husband Damon Dash dated Aaliyah before her death in 2001.)
June 2014: InTouch claims that Jay-Z had an affair with Princesses: Long Island star Casey Cohen, but Casey denies it and demands a public apology.
On the 25th, the On the Run tour kicks off in Miami. At the tour’s Cincinnati stop, Beyoncé changes the lyrics of “Resentment” from “been ridin’ with you for six years” to “been ridin’ with you for 12 years,” or since 2002, when Bey and Jay started dating.
July 2014: Pge Six runs a series of reports claiming that Jay-Z and Beyoncé are on the verge of the divorce. According to their sources, the only thing keeping them together is the On the Run tour, and the marriage will end after the tour ends. A Blind Gossip item seemingly about the pair also indicates that the end is nigh.
August 2014: Beyoncé releases the “Flawless” remix with Nicki Minaj, and addresses the elevator fight in the line, “Of course sometimes shit go down when it’s a billion dollars on an elevator.”
A few days later, rapper and model Liv (see August 2013) releases a song called “Sorry Mrs. Carter” in which she reiterates her claims that Jay-Z is into her. Beyoncé, meanwhile, hangs out with Gwyneth Paltrow, fueling rumors that she’s planning to divorce Jay (Gwyneth had announced her separation from Chris Martin earlier in the year).
An Us Weekly cover story declares that Beyoncé is ready to end it, but later, Mathew Knowles says that the rumors are a “jedi mind trick” cooked up by Jay and Bey in order to sell “On the Run” tickets. Beyoncé’s mom also denies the rumors. Meanwhile, Rita Ora appears in public wearing a shirt featuring the face of Madame du Barry, Louis XV’s mistress.
On the 24th, Beyoncé accepts the Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs. Jay-Z and Blue present her with the trophy, and Bey thanks Jay by saying, “My beloved, I love you.”
September 2014: Beyoncé and Jay-Z engage in some light PDA at his Made in America festival in Philadelphia.
For her birthday, they celebrate with a vacations in France, and Jay-Z shares an adorable video tribute to her on his YouTube channel. On the 20th, HBO airs an “On the Run” concert special.
November 2014: Beyoncé releases “Ring Off,” about her mother’s experience with infidelity in her marriage.