Is Jay-Z’s 4:44 Worth Your Time?

An album built on his own mistakes and an effort to exorcise his demons: this is Jay-Z’s thirteenth studio album. On 4:44 Jay-Z gives us a glimpse of how he feels about race, the music industry and most importantly himself. Jay-Z dropped this 36 minute gem in the summer, and rumors and fan theories dominated the pre-release. Some believed the album would be a response to Beyoncé’s album Lemonade, in which she sings about his infidelity and lies he has told. Many believed Jay-Z would create this new album as more of a complementary piece to Lemonade, a more playful back and forth between the two. Make no mistake: 4:44 is a standalone HOV production.

Jay-Z allows himself to become vulnerable in this album. He begins the titular song, “4:44” by saying “I apologize.” In this admission of guilt and shame, he finds strength. He admits all wrongdoing and asks for forgiveness. Jay-Z seems to be in a controlled chaos. Simply put, Jay-Z is overwhelmed. The fame, the wealth, the infidelity have all caught up to him. In an effort to express his wrongdoings, Jay-Z also tackles his legacy, attempting to answer questions like “How will Jay-Z be remembered?” and “What will he leave behind for his twins and Blue Ivy?” Jay-Z is uncertain and fears the only thing remembered of him will be his mistakes. Jay-Z does not reflect alone as his features Frank Ocean, Damian Marley, Beyonce and, yes, his mother Gloria Carter.

It is important to consider that this is Jay-Z’s first album in four years. 4:44 should not be considered a wake or a comeback. It is a long awaited reflection from one of the best MCs to ever do it. The legacy that Jay-Z frets over was cemented long before 4:44. This album is simply a reminder that although he’s not a businessman, he’s a business, man; he is a man. A man with regrets, mistakes and too much on his mind.

– Francisco Blanco ’18

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