Friday, June 30, 2017

The 411 on 4:44

4:44 exclusively on Tidal
This will probably be one of the shortest reviews I'll ever write because I have so much to say about Jay-Z's latest offering, "4:44," after his four-year solo absence from our "ear-rea," that I'm honestly speechless, and have instead been reduced to .gif worthy facial expressions, ranging from surprise to pensiveness to devilish glee. Now, I'll be completely honest and say I haven't been a die-hard fan of Jay's for a while now (read: at least a decade), while remaining a pretty steadfast fan of his producers (if you really know me, that makes perfect sense). But last night, when the album exclusively dropped on Tidal, the stars aligned and gave us 10-solid No I.D.-produced tracks, revealing a more introspective, grown up and, sometimes remorseful, Shawn, gifting us with, as one tweeter wrote, "that 'i got shit to say; i ain't really come to play'" type fiyah. (And shout out to a good friend for adding me to their Tidal account recently, which obviously proved more on time than I could have predicted).

Although Mr. Carter has always kept it "real" about who he was, is, and is always striving to be, it would be accurate to say that as the commas in his bank account grew over the years, so did the divide in his relation to some of his fans. At times, it felt like he was no longer "one of us," but now a high-perched observer instead, creating what often felt like a unreachable pillar from which he sat, challenging everyone to (impossibly) de-throne him and, at the same time, try and understand him. Now, don't get me wrong, Jay is still doing much of the same, but let's just say he's climbed down long enough to let folks know, "I got it all...but I got every day problems too," which feels raw, honest, and needed at a time when much of nothing feels "real" from hung juries to diabolical Administrations.

Producer No I.D.
Over hundreds of bars exploring fame, poverty, gentrification, colorism, same-sex love, financial literacy, family, marriage, infidelity, and all of the highs and lows associated with each, Jiggaman is purging while, as the young folks say, "snatchin' wigs in the process." Nobody is spared from "analysis" (read: criticism) on this album--Kanye, Al Sharpton, Bill Cosby, OJ, Eric Benet, even Jay's own mama, which means one of two things: that he is so solid in his life right now, he could care less about having any friends at all or that at 47 he simply has no time to waste in not keeping it real with anyone about any and everything--including himself. I'll go with the latter, and echo the words of comedian Chris Rock exclaiming, "I ain't saying it's right....but I understand." God bless everyone in the rap game right now and those trying to get in it, for Hov has added yet another tier to his already high pillar, while raining and reigning down on everyone in the process.

So take heart while bumpin' it at your work desk, in your car, rockin' to it at listening parties or cookouts this weekend, and relish in a bit of that ol' Jigga we all knew and loved...and are loving again. Perhaps I had more than a little to say after all...

Hitting the replay button like:

Identity meme memes awkward bye GIF

Photo Credits: N/A


  1. One thing I have always heard about JayZ was that he has consistently been true to the game. I will say that having lived a little (well, A LOT) would undoubtedly inform his verses. I like that his effort has provided us with one key element of hip hop, which is to provide social commentary over a dope beat. And by the way, it ain't no joke having two powerhouse artists under the same roof! Where they do that at?

  2. I think is my 444th time playing this so far. (5/5 mics!)

  3. Mr. Carter delivered. I have been told that a video will be dropping every week (maybe Fridays) for each track on the album, along with 3 additional songs that were not on the initial release. I quite like that strategy to spread the visuals out as opposed to dropping them all at once. The O.J. video is dope!

    "We're supposed to laugh 'til our heart stops
    And then meet in a space where the dark stop"
    *so many gems