Jay-Z‘s latest album 4:44 is more than just a response to Lemonade.
Jay-Z’s highly anticipated No I.D-produced LP 4:44 is one of his most inspiring yet cathartic and vulnerable projects ever released. Hov challenges his past sentiments of the bachelor life from his earlier work by comparing it to his life in the present through the eyes of his daughter, Blue Ivy, on 4:44. Which began as a mystery was revealed most recently in an exclusive insight track-by-track testimony for iHeartRadio:
“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. 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 ‘4:44’
Specifically on the lead track, Hov vocalizes a public love letter and apology to his wife Beyoncé regarding his alleged infidelity which was poetically described on Lemonade. On the track, “Kill Jay-Z” he discusses himself in third person referencing events like Kanye West’s ‘Saint Pablo Tour’ rant about Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s lack of support, ‘egging Solange on’ and even addressing him almost losing Bey.
The many themes of 4:44 transcends through his marriage with Beyoncé, parenthood, his mother’s homosexuality, black capitalism and financial freedom. Specifically, “The Story of O.J.” touches on the depiction of black identity and the disparaging representation that continues to afflict the African-American community. On this track, he also encourages the dissipation of gang territory violence all while inspiring those involved with illegal street activity to invest in real estate.
“‘The Story of O.J.’ is really a song about we as a culture, having a plan, how we’re gonna push this forward. 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.”
JAY-Z ON ‘THE STORY OF O.J.‘
After being very vocal and present in politics the past eight years, Jay-Z has been a beacon of hope for many in the black community involved in organizations and movements like Black Lives Matter, #BuyBlack and #BankBlack.
Jay-Z divulges in his own painful memories of discovering his mother’s sexuality on “Smile” which samples Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s in Need of Love Today”. The track also contains a personal testimony from his mother Gloria Carter.
Living in the shadow
Can you imagine what kind of life it is to live?
In the shadows people see you as happy and free
Because that’s what you want them to see
Living two lives, happy, but not free
You live in the shadows for fear of someone hurting your family or the person you love
The world is changing and they say it’s time to be free
But you live with the fear of just being me
Living in the shadow feels like the safe place to be
No harm for them, no harm for me
But life is short, and it’s time to be free
Love who you love, because life isn’t guaranteed
GLORIA CARTER ON ‘SMILE’
One my favorites from the album is the bouncy bass-heavy “Caught Their Eyes” featuring Frank Ocean which elaborates on being conscientious about the company you keep and being aware of your surroundings. The track “Moonlight” takes a play on the diluted win at last year’s Oscar win to ‘Best Picture’ spewing “We stuck in La La Land / Even when we win, we lose” verbalizing the state of the struggle that plague’s society everyday.
Hip-Hop most’s relevant rapper shows us the growth that can be accomplished as a black man navigating through hardships clouding disenfranchised black communities, the successful black business owner seeking support and facing the criticism from the people you love the most. It’s safe to say that Hov continues to innovate and change the conversation consistently and progressively in the right direction not only for himself, but us.
Executive-produced by No I.D.
Features additional vocals from Frank Ocean, Beyoncé, James Flauntleroy & Damien Marley
High Replay Value
Terrell Johnson is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of SWGRUS.