Old Jay Z, new jay Z, honest Jay Z, apologetic Jay Z… where do I start? I kind of had to push this album a few hours forward for a listen coz I was busy getting my ears around Public Enemy’s new album, the free album ‘Nothing Is Quick In The Desert’ and MC Eiht’s latest work in 11 years “Which Way Iz West” To Say the truth I would have pushed it forward a few days, see for some time Jay Z music just didn’t appeal to me.
After a few hours repeating the two albums, which I hope to review soon, I got around to bump that 4:44, the name of the album reads like the length of a track on the album with the same name, so I quickly jumped on it and it hit me, Jay was speaking to the woman in his life. The apologies, airing of dirty linen got me thinking, this must be Hov’s most honest track in recent times. He apologizes to his lady (Beyonce) for all his transgressions, a man who’s sorry for almost ruining his marriage, but appreciative of a lady who has always stuck around.
Kill Jay Z opens up the project, the rapper on a soliloquy addresses himself, issues from his past, his ego, Hov’s anger can be felt on this track, how he almost lost his marriage, his failings as a man and takes jabs at Kanye. The Story Of OJ, “I’m Not black I’m OJ”, line sounds familiar?, It’s that windy track, with a magical ambience, the track samples Nina Simone’s “Four Sisters”, and talks of perceptions of the black community, making money, investments or how its lost.
Smile is a tune that features his mother Gloria Carter, he opens up about his mother, and what she went through while he was growing up, the struggles she had as a lesbian and how she struggled to keep all that a secret and later revealed that she is a lesbian. Mrs Carter later comes out towards the end of the track to speak about living in the shadows. “Living in the shadows 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, smile” on Family Feud which features vocals from Beyonce, he wonders how young rappers still sign deals when at the end of it all they end up losing a lot, how the new rap culture almost seems strange to him.
Jay Z features Damien Marley on Bam, a sample of Sister Nancy’s Bam Bam and Frank Ocean on Caught Their Eyes. Other notables: Marcy Me which he raps about his old hood, where he grew up and where it all started. The album ends with Legacy, a track which features his first born daughter Blue Ivy, he raps about how he wants to create and protect the future of his family.
4:44 would just be any album out there, clearly there’s the aspect of money and sales, but for people who look or listen to Hip Hop beyond entertainment, this project is worth of praise, we get a chance of know who jay Z is, where he’s come from and where he is as a grown man. The grown up Jay Z. Jay Z worked with producer NO ID.