I woke up the morning that 4:44 was released to find my timelines flooded. Everything, and I mean everything, was 4:44. That is the kind of clout that Jay-Z, aka Shawn Carter, possesses. Now, we’re not talking about the Lil Uzis and Lil Yachtys of the world. When Mr. Carter speaks, the world listens.
My friend was messaging me frantically all morning asking if I had heard the album. He knew I was a fan of true lyricists and Jay-Z certainly was one of them. I told him I was trying to sign up for Tidal as we spoke. Success. I made the account and hit play on 4:44.
From the first track, Kill Jay-Z, my jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe Jay-Z was about to make some real revelations and take accountability for his past arrogance and misogyny and more. It was his Lemonade, as a matter of fact.
I texted my friend “Holy sh**, this first song is dope so far! It’s like a male Lemonade”. I was then promptly instructed to finish listening to the album for the full experience. I shut off my phone and laptop off and sent the stream from my iPod to my Bluetooth speaker to finish listening.
It was just as good as I could’ve hoped or dreamed for. I was praying that he would redeem himself after Magna Carta Holy Grail and he sure did.
After listening to the whole album, I went to social media to see how the world was responding. I was overwhelmed by how much people were focusing on the personal details Jay revealed on this album, while almost ignoring other major themes the album touched on.
Jay-Z talks about his mother being a lesbian, shooting his brother when he was a child, stabbing someone, the elevator incident, his twins being natural, giving Kanye $20 million, Future and football, and of course how he almost went Eric Benet by cheating on his wife, Beyoncé.
Now yes, Jay-Z did let us into his world a little bit and gave us some salacious details, and as fans we will always want to be let in to his personal life, but he also gave us many gems.
Jay-Z has always been wise and frequently attempts to drop jewels of knowledge in his rhymes. In The Story of OJ he speaks on the importance of buying and supporting Black, owning property and building credit. On Family Feud Jay addresses the lack of solidarity in hip-hop while still coming for the generic sounding new school rappers on Moonlight.
Even in the sole video released from the album so far (The Story of OJ), Jay-Z uses cartoon characters to portray some vivid and poignant images. Themes of financial freedom, financial growth, leaving a legacy, religion and repentance are featured in the album but yet, sadly, it seems people were hearing without really listening.
By Nicky Jean
Nicky Jean is an Ottawa-based poet, singer and rapper, as well as a radio host at CHUO 89.1FM