JAY-Z “4:44” ALBUM REVIEW

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So first things first guys, “4:44” isn’t JAY-Z’s version of “Lemonade.” Also it’s not solely a response to Beyonce’s “Lemonade.” On the album though an apologetic Jay-Z does address he and Beyonce’s issues, which was big but there was more to this album. This project introduced us to the life of Shawn Carter. “4:44” might be his most personal project to date. Also, with the anticipation of this album we all wondered if Jay was going to be addressing Kanye on here at all, even possibly Drake. I was extremely anxious to hear this project but some of you tried to ruin it…. Several people thought Jay-Z was going to put out a “pointless” project. Some said “It’s just an apology album to Beyonce’s Lemonade that’s why there is so much hype.” Oh and my absolute favorite quote….. “Jay-Z is WASHED.” But its okay though, lets dive in this review and see how washed he is!


MY TOP 5 SONGS

5. Moonlight

Moonlight is SO DOPE. From the “Fu-Gee-La” sample, to Jay-z checking all these new age rap acts. “Stop walking around like y’all made Thriller.” Jay-Z obviously is tired of these young guys walking around here like they are hot shit. Then he addresses the new school rappers, who plenty of people have an issue with, by saying “Y’all got the same fucking flows, I don’t know who is who.”

4. Family Feud

Family Feud basically is part two of 4:44 if you asks me. 4:44 addresses Hov and Beyoncé’s issues. Jay sounded really remorseful on it. So this leads into “Family Feud,” that sigh of relief from addressing and owning up to his mistakes from “4:44.” I love that Beyoncé was on the vocals too! Says a lot honestly. Apart from that this is dope track production wise and Hov once again was really rapping on here. Becky you better leave this man alone!!!!!

3. Smile

Okay so i would just like to shout out Gloria Carter, Jay-Z’s mom. This track features both Jay-Z and his mother discussing her sexuality. This was BIG because it’s the first time that either of them has publicly addressed her sexual identity. Jay-Z raps,

 

“Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian / Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian,”

 

“Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate / Society shame and the pain was too much to take,” he adds before asserting, “Cried tears of joy when you fell in love / Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her.”

I was caught so off guard but this was huge. Jay-Z let us into his life and poured out his heart on this song, spitting out lyrics that are both personal and motivational all at the same time. At the end of the song we get an amazing spoken word from Gloria.

 

 

“Living in the shadow / Can you imagine what kind of life it is to live?” she asks on the close-to-five-minute track. “In the shadows people see you as happy and free / Because that’s what you want them to see,” she continues. “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.”

 

2. Bam

THIS TRACK KNOCKS. This is a Jay-Z track. Shawn Carter is officially off this track. HOV sounds ruthless on here as he talks his ‘ish! This is probably the most” hype track on here. I love the Damian Marley feature. It only seemed right to have Damian provided his sound on this reggae hip-hop vibe produced by NO I.D. Damian’s grit matches Jigga’s “Flexacution” on here.

1. The Story of O.J.

Wow OJ this, OJ that. Apparently OJ may be released from prison later this year for good behavior. This man’s having a year…. Call Time Magazine! (Kidding) Anyways, this song is absolutely incredible. When i first heard this i think i played this song 10 times before proceeding to the next track. On here Jay-Z is real soulful and is dropping some serious knowledge on our heads. He also addresses the ignorance that sees from the youth and the rap industry’s stars. Jay-Z also kicks some financial game to us and knowing where J came from and where he is today, best believe listeners will be taking his advice. But man lets talk about the visual….. It’s beyond genius. There is a lot of hidden symbolism but Ill just leave you all with the video and you guys can see for yourself.


TRACKLIST AND RATINGS

1. Kill Jay Z (4.25/5)

2. The Story of O.J. (5/5)

3. Smile (5/5)

4. Caught Their Eyes (4.8/5)

5. 4.:44 (4.4/5)

6. Family Feud (5/5)

7. Bam (5/5)

8. Moonlight (4.75/5)

9. Marcy Me (5/5)

10. Legacy (4.5/5)


On “4:44” we have one of the all-time greats, one of the most crafty and evasive MC’s letting us into his life. Like I mentioned earlier, 4:44 isn’t JAY-Z’s “Lemonade,” a response to Lemonade, or even a Lemonade companion piece. He does address everything Beyonce spoke to us about on “Lemonade” but, its not a full on response to her album.It’s deeper than that. It’s deeper than rap. 4:44 is certainly built around the betrayal, his deceitfulness, then he gives a corresponding apology with “4:44” but the other songs show more of Jay’s own maturation. He also blesses us with some serious knowledge too. BUT what 4:44 is really about is LEGACY. Yes his legacy. Its about how Jay will be remembered. Its about what he’s leaving his children (Peep final track). Its about what ALL ARTIST, ATHLETES, POLITICIANS AND ETC ESSENTIAL ASK THEMSELVES WHEN THEY HANG IT UP, what has he done for the culture and what he’s still trying to do for society in general. He also talks about financial freedom and black excellence through out the project. Which was SO IMPORTANT.

Jay-Z went all in on here. But lets not sleep. WE MUST acknowledge production. No I.D FLAT OUT killed it. The Chicago beat making legend produced all 10 sounds on 4:44. He builds a soulful feel that suits Jay-Z perfectly. Some like the production on here better than “Magna Carta” and I love Magna Carta but I have to also go with “4:44” being better production wise. The samples were crazy on here. For example, on “The Story of O.J.,” Nina Simone, sings loudly, “My skin is black.” On “4:44,” Hannah Williams makes Hov’s shame standout with “I’m never gonna treat you like I should!” “Legacy,” which advocates for black independence, Donny Hathaway speaks it into existence: “Someday we’ll all be free.” It took me sometime to catch that but it all made sense to me after a few listens . “Bam Bam” and “Fu-Gee-La” both were more beat samples but i loved the choices made by I.D and Jay man.

This project was phenomenal. I know it may be too soon or it may not be the people’s consensus but, this may be a top 3 Jay-Z project all time. Jay introduced us to Shawn Carter and damn it, it was nice meeting Shawn. This may be the album of the year or 2nd to Kendrick’s “DAMN.” Regardless where it ranks, Jay gave us yet another timeless record that is an instant classic and it’s what the culture, OUR culture needed. (Feel me?)

Rating: 9.6/10

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