JAY-Z’s Evolution Continues With New Album 4:44

    When it was announced that JAY-Z’s new album 4:44 would be released  on June 30th, it took me back to a quote he made when he first retired, “just because I’m retired from music doesn’t mean I won’t breathe again.” 

    To the man born Shawn Carter,  lyricism is the equivalent to breathing, the essence of his life force. After entering the game with the legendary album Reasonable Doubt, which was a direct challenge to the evergreen question in Hip Hop of who is the best MC, he absolutely created the doubt. Those who looked at Rakim, Nas, Tupac and Biggie Smalls had to take notice of Marcy Projects’ own wordsmith. The tales regurgitated through melody are now the bible to today’s generation of rhyme slingers.

    4:44 is the continuation of the groundbreaking work Hov has done in music and in business. For starters the release will only be available to users of the music streaming service Tidal, which the rapper co-owns. Already, the album is highly anticipated because of its low key promotion and the way its been promoted on NYC subway advertising and on the internet. 

    The album is the first major project involving Tidal and Sprint, which acquired 33 percent of the streaming service in a $200 million deal in January.

    Tidal announced the news on Twitter early Monday, along with a 30-second black-and-white clip from a video of one of the album’s songs, Adnis, featuring “Moonlight” and “Luke Cage” star Mahershala Ali. The new album is called “4:44.” Adnis is a tip of the hat to Adnis Reeves who was Jay-Z’s father.

    JAY-Z “Adnis”

    JAY-Z’ ‘4:44’ Sprint.TIDAL.com #TIDALXSprint

    Fans will be required to sign up for Tidal or Sprint in order to acquire the album legally; Sprint customers can receive a free six-month Tidal trial subscription. So far, no word on when or whether the album will be available on other streaming services or for purchase as a download or physical product.

    JAY-Zs official album announcement caps an epic week for the rap mogul, which included the birth of his and Beyonces twins (according to reports), his induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (the ceremony for which he did not attend, presumably because of the twins births), and his announcement via an op-ed for Time that he was donating bail money for incarcerated dads on Fathers Day.

    In addition, the Tidal and Sprint partnership will support the 1Million Project, an initiative from Sprint and the Sprint Foundation that will connect 1 million low-income U.S. high school students who dont have internet access at home to help level the playing field and eliminate the homework gap. Participating students will receive free mobile devices and free high-speed wireless internet connectivity while in high school for up to four years. 

    The new album is JAY-Z’s first CD since “Magna Carta Holy Grail” in 2013 and is a reversal of his constant retirement claims over the years. The rapper-businessman also had a big win this weekend as champion boxer Andre Ward defeated Russian challenger Sergey Kovalev in Las Vegas for the light heavyweight title. The event was promoted by Roc Nation and Ward is a member of the burgeoning stable of Roc Nation athletes and coaches.

    On the heels of the Tupac biopic, All Eyez On Me, it is clear what the potential was for Hip Hop artists considered the best during the ’90s. One can only imagine what a Tupac and JAY-Z collaboration would have sounded like, or if he would have matured into the businessman that Shawn Carter is today. After releasing scores of music and maintaining his relevance amid the trap music and mumble rap eras we are currently embroiled in, JAY-Z has maintained his resilience and relevance throughout. 

    From his alcohol brand Dsse to his former clothing line Rocawear and the S. Carter sneakers to the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, JAY-Z has transformed the narrative of the street hustler into one of a streetwise mogul. We can only wait to understand the mind and backstory of one of the most celebrated artists of all time when this latest release drops.

    Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. RhettĀ hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.