“‘4:44’ is a song that I wrote, and it’s the crux of the album, just right in the middle of the album. And I woke up, literally, at 4:44 in the morning, 4:44 AM, to write this song.” The run-time of the song is also 4:44. See? It’s very literal, but there’s also a bit more to it. As he explained further, “So it became the title of the album and everything. It’s the title track because it’s such a powerful song, and I just believe one of the best songs I’ve ever written.”
Jay Z on why he named his new album 4:44.
Jay Z took the industry by surprise when he announced that he was releasing a new album. Taking a page out of his wife’s Beyoncés playbook. JayZ dropped this album out of the blue. He didn’t release no video, no single, no club banger, no street team. He announced that he was gonna release the album to Sprint subscribers so that raised the curiosity even higher.
The opening track titled “Kill Jay Z” was the appropriate opener and set the tone off perfectly for what to expect. Jay Z is clearly on his grown man status here and that’s the vibe that flows throughout 4:44. He used “Kill JayZ” to he wants to address the mistakes he’s made on his rise to where he’s at now. From stabbing unrevera, shooting his own brother over a pinky ring, selling drugs, and trying to reshape his image. But theres flashes of the old Jigga man here as he proceeds to put a footprint on former collaborate and estranged friend Kanye Wests’s neck:
You walkin’ around like you invincible
You dropped outta school, you lost your principles
I know people backstab you, I felt bad too
But this ‘fuck everybody’ attitude ain’t natural
But you ain’t a saint, this ain’t kumbaye
But you got hurt because you did cool by ‘Ye
You gave him 20 million without blinkin’
He gave you 20 minutes on stage, fuck was he thinkin’?
“Fuck wrong with everybody?” is what you sayin’
But if everybody’s crazy, you’re the one that’s insane
Crazy how life works
You got a knot in your chest, imagine how a knife hurts
You stabbed Un over some records
Your excuse was “He was talkin’ too reckless!”
Let go your ego over your right shoulder
Your left is sayin’, “Finish your breakfast!”
You egged Solange on
Knowin’ all along, all you had to say you was wrong
You almost went Eric Benét
Let the baddest girl in the world get away
The next track titled the Story of OJ’s has Jay Z being more conscious aware than we’ve ever heard from him. It was heavily rumored that his next album was gonna be heavily influenced by the 5 percent teaches and addressing racism. His verses off Jay Electronica’s We Made It and Pusha T’s Drug Dealer Anonomoyus played heavily to the narrative and further fed that notion. The Story of OJ’s rise and fall became the face of the harsh realities of Black America. JayZ’s reference to “Don’t Call me black, I’m OJ“is reference to what OJ use to say when he wanted to dismiss himself from black issues. He also responded to his critics about Tidal and to brag about his business acumen .
The rest of the album sticks to the format. Its simple, soulful, and insightful.. Jay wanted to go back to the time where an artist had one producer for an entire project and he recruited Chicago Producer NO ID to oversea the entire album. Pretty ironic that NO ID use to produce Common’s best albums and now Jay finally can “Rhyme like Common Sense”.
4:44 is possibly the most personal album Jay has ever released in his career. We’re getting more insight in his world as a family man. Shocking revelations of his mother being a lesbian were made on Smile which has Jay reflecting on his childhood which changed him for the better in the future. He responded to Beyoncé’s claims of Infidelity from her Lemonade album on the personal album title track 4:44. A shocking form of humility and apologetic side of Jay considering that this was the same man who once penned out songs such as Big Pimpin, Is That Yo Bitch, and others:
Like the men before me, I cut off my nose to spite my face
I never wanted another woman to know
Something about me that you didn’t know
I promised, I cried, I couldn’t hold
I suck at love, I think I need a do-over
I will be emotionally available if I invited you over
I stew over, what if you over my shit?
The album’s most controversial track Family Feud has Jay giving the hip hop community a state of union address in the forever age gap. He surprisingly aligned himself with the new generation by chastising the old heads and young then demanding that they come together for a Devine purpose. He also addressed the age gap amongst the black community by referring to Bill Cosby’s current trial and how Al Sharpton made a mockery of himself taking selfies.
Whats great about 4:44 is that every song serves purpose and reveals another chapter in Jay’s current life. He took critical aim at the current rappers buffoonery and behavior on Moonlight. He chastised the new rappers for having racks of money on their ear, sharing the same women in the same circle and getting caught up in silliness. He addressed their lack of business intelligence and showing off Dracos on IG(which is aimed at Soulja Boy). He even took swipes at their bosses Lucian Grange and Doug Morris:
Lucian is cool but Lucian don’t write
Doug ain’t this tight, so
Fuck what we sellin’
Fuck is we makin’?
‘Cause their grass is greener
‘Cause they always rakin’ in mo’
The last four songs he wanted to shift gears back to his family. He penned a letter to his late father Adnis which was shown as a quick snippet to promote the album on Fathers Day. Legacy, Blues freestyle and the final song ManyfacedGod were focused mainly on showing his gentler side towards his daughter Blue Evy and Beyoncé..
Overall this was possibly one of the best album’s Jay has ever released. This is definitely up there with Reasonable Doubt, Blueprint, Black Album and American Gangster. Jay showed with 4:44 that theres a lane still for 40 plus rappers to excell and lived up to expectations.
Vic rating: 10 outta 10