First it was the random, ambiguous 4:44 posters that began popping up on the NYC subways and streets, then in different places from coast to coast. Then it was a couple of teasers featuring well known African-American actors. Then it was revealed that this Guerilla marketing campaign of sorts was a build-up to JAY:Zs 13th studio album, his first since 2013s Magna Carter Holy Grail.
A couple of fake, leaked, track-listings later and 4:44 is here. The album dropped at 12:01AM today, June 30th.
And guess what? Hov put out a real Hip-Hop album produced entirely by No I.D.
Before the internet minions holla out Classic, lets talk about this. 10 tracks, 36 minutes and 11 seconds in length, 4:44 is short but sweet.
The album opens with Kill JAY-Z: F*ck Jay Z. I mean, you shot your own brother. How can we know if we can trust JAY-Z?
Id be lying if I said I wasnt locked into the lyrics from there on.
“The first song.obviously, it’s not to be taken literal, JAY said on this exclusive iheart radio audio clip. It’s really about the ego. It’s about killing off the ego, so we can have this conversation in a place of vulnerability and honesty.”
That track is then followed by the chill keys and a sped-up Nina Simone sample on The Story of O.J. Hov spits introspective lyrics about how regardless of money, color, or character, youll still be looked at as a nigger. He also touches on how to be smart with your money. Financial freedom. I only hope. F*ck living rich and dying broke. Conscious JAY in 2017? Ill take it!
JAY-Z’ ‘4:44’ Sprint.TIDAL.com #TIDALXSprint
“‘The Story of OJ’ is really a song about we as a culture, having a plan, how we’re gonna push this forward,” said JAY. “We all make money, and then we all lose money, as artists especially. But how, when you have some type of success, to transform that into something bigger.”
Then comes, probably, my favorite track on the album thus far, Smile featuring JAYs mother Gloria Carter. Its lit! From the Stevie Wonder sample to the typical but welcomed brag-heavy rhymes that JAY-Z made his name on, its a shout-out to all of the doubters and haters that felt like his better emcee days were behind him. I felt like JAY hopped in the time machine with Doc Brown on this one. Think The Black Album Hov.
“‘Smile’ is just what it is,” he said. “There are gonna be bad times, and those bad times can do two things: they can get you in a place where you’re stuck in a rut, or it can make your future that much better because you’ve experienced these things.”
There are some heavy gems on this album masked behind casual flows and chill production. This one is for the true Hip Hop fan that loves beats and rhymes.
The title track 4:44, which is 4 minutes and 44 seconds in length, is flames, with JAY talking that talk aboutapologizing? The Lemonade answer? Sounds like it.
“‘4:44’ is a song that I wrote, and it’s the crux of the album, just right in the middle of the album,” he said. “And I woke up, literally, at 4:44 in the morning, 4:44 AM, to write this song. 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.”
Its easy to get caught up in the newness of a highly anticipated album, but this is no pump fake.
Is it Hovs most lyrically impressive album? Probably not, but it might be his most lyrically important album.
With other notable tracks like Family Feud, Marcy Me, and Legacy, hes silenced the skeptical Hip-Hop head that had already given up on his new music.
For those that anticipated Basquiat bars and art gallery dance videos, sorry. This is one album that comes with a disclaimer that Hov coined years ago, Say that Im foolish. I only talk about jewels. Do you listen to music or do you just skim through it?