HOV Song Cry

19 Jul


4:44 Album Review

Several years back Jay-Z appeared on The Howard Stern Show, putting himself in the hot seat deflecting barbs and personal jabs hurled his way by the self proclaimed “King of All Media” and the shock jock’s morning drive posse. Mister Roc-A-Fella; the founder of Roc Nation, Rocawear clothing empresario and the president of Def Jam at the time! A hip-hop icon in the game for almost two decades strong, he seemed put off by a number of questions and was reluctant to respond to other off color remarks and was just sounding super uncomfortable. At a certain point I said to myself why was this “Business, Man” subjecting himself to this?

Cry Jay Z, we know the pain is real
But you can’t heal what you never reveal
What’s up, Jay Z? You know you owe the truth
To all the youth that fell in love with Jay Z
You got people you love you sold drugs to
You got high on the life, that shit drugged you
You walkin’ around like you invincible

4:44 is Jigga’s Tony Soprano moment (we are privy to that inner monologue on nearly every verse he delivers) where Young Hov was always the Michael Corleone in the rhyme game. On 10 tracks amounting to about thirty-six minutes in length he confesses (literally snitching on himself), purges his demons and claps back on rumors in a way that is both refreshing and perplexing that one would never ever expect in the early …The Life And Times Of S. Carter days. Solange had him on TMZ with the elevator beat down she administered to brother-in-law Hov on a loop and wifey Beyonce put him on blast with the release of Lemonade. Shawn Carter Tracy Jordaned himself (the 30 Rock reference so fitting in this case) on both 4:44 and Family Feud, sans his hardrock persona on both tracks, he not only admits to his infidelity and indiscretions but owns up by apologizing. Jigga what?

The same way I never thought the kat who gave us Golddigger would wife a Kardashian, never did I think that I would hear words like that from Jay, let alone on wax. I find it interesting how people are running with how candid President Carter is, especially the Beyhive who can’t come to grips with the fact that anyone could wrong their girl. How you gonna cheat on the baddest chick in the game? C’mon, Eric Benet did step out on Halle Berry! The entire point of the going Eric Benet line. Nuff said. I believe this is the first collection of tracks by Hova that has one producer manning the board and it results in a solid concept record, not a collection of singles from the usual for hire hitmen. The No ID thing is funny how he co-oped Kanye’s mentor on a project where Ye’s “big brother” openly comes at the troubled recording artist. Chi-town’s own blessed this project with a gospel tinged soundscape to accompany the rhetoric and pearls of wisdom offered as Jiggaman goes in on the music industry, mumble rappers, prodigee West, haters and Stans alike. Marcy Me and Kill Jay-Z catch your ear on first listen, both songs lyrically sound, bars to rival anything from J Cole, Kendrick or the old Kanye we’ve all been missing. The standout track on the  4:44 album without a doubt is The Story Of OJ. The commentary on society and race is spot on.

Light nigga, dark nigga, faux nigga, real nigga
Rich nigga, poor nigga, house nigga, field nigga
Still nigga, still nigga

OJ Like I’m not black I’m OJ… okay.

I guess this is the kind of music you put out when in your late 40’s you’re no longer “dumbing it down” for your audience. But what makes this song an instant classic from a recording artist recently inducted into the songwriters hall of fame is the accompanying music video. That said, I don’t think anyone under the age of forty can appreciate what the imagery in the animated clip co directed by the MC and visionary director Mark Romanek represents and why it’s so mind blowing that he choose to go there. The psychological damage that Disney, WB studios and the rest of the companies of that era who proliferated those racial stereotypes to the general public can never be measured.

The QT effect one example chronicled in the accompanying video is disturbing.


The most unexpected cut is Smile which features mama Carter who is outed by her son on the track that speaks on her sexual preference. I can honestly say there’s nothing on this album for no young heads. This is mature hip-hop; perhaps taking  a cue from Nas’ superb 2012 release Life Is Good. The  legendary Queensbridge rapper also enlisted No ID and Salaam Remi when he chose to speak on his high profile divorce from wife Kelis at the time.  Maybe Shawn should have gotten there ten years ago but even he admits in some lyrics that his wife matured faster. The lone banger Bam with the assist from Damian Marley is as close to a single as you’re gonna get. And thank god Jay-Z didn’t stoop to the Drake fake Jamaican patois on the dancehall flavored joint.

4:44 is one of the best releases of 2017, definitely one of the best for everyone’s GOAT who is not Biggie, who hasn’t really delivered in a minute if we’re being honest. Jay is the Floyd Mayweather of the rap game; he’s got nothing to prove and he’s paid. Since returning from a second retirement, this 13th solo studio release is regarded as his magnum opus and all but secures his legacy. A definite career defining drop the mic moment, he should do that and then walk off stage.

My non subscription to Tidal factored into when I was able to issue this post.

Arthvr Alleyne


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