4:44 is Jay-Z’s comeback tale of infidelity


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Jay-Z releases his newest album, 4:44.

Ryan Mackinnon, Reporter

4:44 was the best album released in 2017.

Jay-Z’s 13th studio album gives listeners a look at the man behind the curtain. Rapping about everything from his mother’s closeted homosexuality, to him cheating on Beyoncé, 4:44 is raw, old school, concise, and features incredible storytelling.

The album opens with a slew of self deprecating lines on the track “Kill Jay Z” where he says, “F*** Jay-Z, I mean you shot your own brother/ How do we know if we can trust Jay-Z”.

Jay truly did shoot his own brother for stealing his ring when he was twelve. This is the perfect appetizer for the forthcoming personal stories of fault and failure.

The second track has buttery smooth production with a background vocal sample from legendary soul singer, Nina Simone. The lyrical journey of this song takes us from some clever social commentary on society’s views of black men, to a financial lesson, to a diss of Floyd Mayweather.

The track “Smile” sees Jay telling the story of his mother’s happiness after coming out of the closet. He raps, “Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate/ Society shame and pain was too much to take/ Cried tears of joy when you fell in love/ Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her”.

It’s another personal story, but this time on the happier side. “Smile” serves as a nice change of pace from the self-deprecation of the rest of the album.

Then comes the title track.

“4:44” sees Jay-Z admitting fault for his infidelities in his marriage with Beyoncé. He is ashamed of himself and mentions how terrible he would feel if his kids found out.

As much as this track and Beyoncé’s album, Lemonade (where she talks about Jay-Z cheating on her), feel like reality TV shows that could have easily been fabricated to make money, it’s still intriguing. Whether he actually cheated or not, the storyline gave us an interesting look at both sides of dishonesty.

Jay quickly picks up the mood with the track “Family Feud”. He reminds us that even though his and Beyoncé’s marriage has had its ups and downs, they’re still billionaires.

He achieves this with cleverly playful lines like, “What’s better than one billionaire? Two”. And, “There’s no such thing as an ugly billionaire, I’m cute”.

The album finishes up with a few average tracks that serve as a comedown to the album’s epic storytelling journey.

I found this album impressive for a rapper who many considered to be washed-up. His last album was far from his best work, but this stylistic change of pace is right up there with the classic work of Jay-Z.

Today, most rappers approach to creating an album is to have over-the-top beats that are louder than their thoughtless lyrics about drugs and women. Jay-Z showcases immaculate lyrical talent over low-key, old school production, and it’s a refreshing change of pace.

Rating: 10/10