12 Thoughts on Jay Z’s New Album, “4:44” Because We All Care Right Now » VSB

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12 Thoughts on Jay Z’s New Album, “4:44” Because We All Care Right Now

Roc Nation

 

At midnight EST, Jay-Z dropped his latest album 4:44 amidst one of the better promo runs we’ve seen in a while. Of course, to listen to it you had to either sign up for Sprint and why would you do that or have a subscription to Tidal, which is only slightly less unreasonable than signing up for Sprint in 2017. I’m not the most reasonable chap, so way back in the day I signed up for the Tidal premium subscription and have forgotten to cancel it EVER SINCE LEMONADE DROPPED. Think about that, Lemonade came out in April 2016. For over a year, I’ve been meaning to cancel Tidal and haven’t and it’s only been beneficial TWICE. Nobody will ever accuse me of solid decision making. Either way, armed with beats by veteran super-under-the-radar-top-tier producer, No I.D., Jay decided to give the summer some, one more time. And boy did he.  I had no expectations and because of that, Jay reminded me why he’s the GOAT.

Here are 12 thoughts on the album everybody is going to be talking about for the next few weeks, and for good reason.

1. This is the most quotable Jay album since The Black Album. And honestly, I thank Kanye for this. I’m not going to say that Kanye made Jay-Z irrelevant, but ‘Ye has leapfrogged Jay in terms of cultural relevance. A lot of it is due to the fact that Kanye is a self-contained creator. He moves the needle and sound, on purpose, when the mood suits him. He’s a cultural icon because of how frequently he contributes to it. Jay has been on retired Godfather status – where he belongs – for a while now. But Jay is a competitor and you can’t turn off your mind. Jay went in. He stepped it back up to Blueprint days, lyrically. It’s also a lot more socially important than those magnificent misses from Kingdom Come and Magna Carta Holy Grail. Point is, the natural order of the hip-hop world is restored as, again, there is a Jay lyric to fit any situation, the way Hov intended.

2. Good lord, No I.D. The hip-hop head in me thinks that No I.D. was working on an album in the vein of Dilla’s Donuts, which is in my top five favorite hip-hop albums EVER. In that album, Dilla dropped a batch of his production ideas, concoctions that might not have worked super well as soundbeds for rappers but were perfect soundscapes on their own. To me, the production on 4:44 sounds like a bunch of ideas that No I.D. was playing around with. The samples are chopped up superbly; it’s as if he loaded up samples into an MPC and chopped those joint into all 16 pads and went to work. In my head, Jay was talking to him one day and asked what he was working on, heard those beats, and said, “Let me get those, all of them.”

3. I joked after Lemonade dropped that the Carter family was about to murder the game as soon as Jay dropped the companion album, Lemons. Well, it turns out that Jay did decide to give us Lemons, he just called it 4:44, and addressed it all in-depth on the song “4:44”. We can debate whether or not he needed to address Beyonce’s album. I tend to think that he couldn’t NOT address it and he did it in the best way possible,  a head on collision with the truth. He even mentions Becky on the album. Obviously we assume Bey heard it and approved of the album before it dropped, but there’s something about hearing him open up and acknowledge how fucked up he was and how much reflection he’s done. It doesn’t make it better, but it’s also THEIR issue and THEIRS to deal with. Jay didn’t owe any of us shit, but since he decided to share, I think he did about as good a job as he could on an album.

4. Motherfucking Frank Ocean (who after not being an artist I gave much of a shit about is probably the artist I listen to more than any other), used the word “solipsistic” on “Caught Their Eyes.” Nigga. Slow clap. Also, you are a lie. You who swears that you didn’t have to look that shit up. I’ve heard the word before. I even knew how to spell it, but I had to look that shit up because I had ZERO clue what it meant using context clues. Again, motherfucking slow clap to Frank Ocean, one of the absolute best phrasers in the game.

5. As a beat head, I fucking LOVE the beats on this album. I’m a sucker for a good sample use and No I.D. murked these samples.In particular, my favorites so far are “The Story of O.J.”, “Caught Their Eyes”, “4:44”, “Family Feud”, “Bam”, “Moonlight”, “Marcy Me”, and let me say a little something about “Legacy”. GOTDAMN. Look, I love Donny Hathaway. I’m a well-documented Donny stan. So if you’re going to sample Donny, to me, you better use it well and shit. It seems like producers don’t really fuck up Donny samples and “Legacy” is another in the line banging ass uses of a Donny sample. As a production head, I appreciate this album for being a nod to straight sampling without focusing on radio friendliness. Thank you, No I.D. and Jay for making an album in 2017 that could have come out in the 90s, the 00s, and obviously sounds good today.

6. Well Jay had something to say about that Prince shit now, didn’t he?

7. This is a grown man ass album, but not in the way of Kingdom Come where it didn’t really connect. Jay’s obviously grown a lot since 2006, and the way he approaches talking about how he’s living is more reflective and relatable now. As he said, he’s giving you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99. And I appreciate that.

8. “Never go Eric Benet” – Jay Z, “Kill Jay Z”. I wonder how Eric Benet feels about the fact that he’s about to be heard around the internet for a very long time now as a reminder how he fucked it up with Halle Berry EVEN THOUGH nobody thinks he fucked it up by losing Halle Berry because of his sex addiction. I think we’re all in agreement that maybe Halle does better solo than in a tandem. But still. Kinda sucks for Eric Benet.

9. I’m only 10 hours into this album but have listened 6 times as of this writing. I’m sure many people are going to love the song “4:44” because of its vulnerability, but good gotdamn does “The Story of O.J.” have so many gems and so much game in it. That song should change the trajectory of the bougie Black people in DC for at least this summer. There’s also something hilarious about how he said, “I’m not Black, I’m OJ!…Okay.” I laugh every time I hear it.

10. It’s cool hearing grown man, father rap, that sounds dope. Obviously this man is in love with his children and loves making sure Blue, in particular since the twins are just getting here, gets her due on record.

11. Jay has 13 albums now. I’m saying this is in his top 5. I’m Reasonable Doubt over everything, then Blueprint, then The Black Album. As of right now, I have this as number 4, right before American Gangster. I realize, depending on your personal constitution, that you can flip RD and Blueprint as his best album. But this album is definitely competing.

12. Welcome back to the party, Jay. We’ve missed you even if we didn’t know it.

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Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • Dustin John Seibert

    Takes after one full listen and one half-assed, 1 a.m.-after-several-drinks-in listen:

    – Easily his best album since “American Gangster.”

    – Taken together, “Lemonade” and “4:44” might be the most poignant commentary on marital infidelity of our generation. But it could all still be the biggest marketing ploy ever. I wouldn’t bet any amount of real money that any of this is the truth.

    – Comparisons are inevitable, so I’ll jump off and say that this album is far more compelling than Kendrick’s “DAMN.”

    – Never heard Jay throw so many names out so brazenly. Eric Benet caught shots. Al Sharpton caught shots. And it would appear that Kanye got some very thinly veiled sublims…?

    – I interviewed Dion for a story about a decade ago. Great guy…glad to see him on the boards for a whole Hov album in 2K17.

    – Dion can do very little wrong, so at least the production was gonna be decent at its very worst. Right now, my standouts are the title track, “Marcy Me” (8 million flame emojis) and “Legacy.” Album closes SKRAWNG. He also sampled one of my favorite Donny Hathaway songs, “Someday We’ll All Be Free.”

    – When you’re a rapping monster, that never goes away. Even though he’s knocking on the door of 50, Jigga can still get it in when he wants to. And it’s a testament to his longevity that we all still care.

    • i thought i was the only one who liked American Gangster

      • miss t-lee

        No. I always feel like that should’ve been the album he “retired” on, rather than the Black album.

      • Dustin John Seibert

        Nah American Gangster is an above-average album, and one of few rap concept albums that work.

      • Junegirl627

        Nah I stay telling people “it’s hard to go back to hamburger helper when you used to filet mignon” BTW that is one of the most pimp lines i ever heard. Because he let everybody know you don’t need to be on his level to get Beyonce but you need to be on his level to keep her and both he and she knows this so shoot all you want shooter she ain’t going no where. Then Lemonade came out… and…. yeah

      • American Gangster is in my top 5…it has a certain je ne sai qouis about it

    • HouseSublime

      Future, Sharpton, Kanye, Benet, all caught strays,

      • Am I wrong for being glad Sharpton caught one over them selfies? LOL

        • I am a little too excited about that!

      • kneelbeforetigers

        Drake too, with that holding money to your ear shot…

  • bigheadbaby

    No hip-hop head am I. But ” ‘Ye has leapfrogged Jay in terms of cultural relevance” cannot be allowed to stand. Put the pipe down, man….

    • panamajackson

      How is that wrong?

      • Alessandro De Medici

        IKR

        2 weeks ago I was wondering if Jay had finally decided to become retired permanently.

      • Wise Old Owl

        It is not…Ye is more relevant to Hip-Hop and I will be awaiting his new Album…take their wives out of the equation and most would have to admit that Ye is more relevant than Hov…I always felt that Ye forced H ov to be more conscious and introspective, especially the Watch the Throne project as well as the earlier production Ye did for Hov…I know folks love Hov’s wife and hate Ye’s wife and allow this to cloud their judgement of their relevance to Hip-Hop and the Culture…Ye hold your head high and continue to get well….

  • StillSuga

    I’m mad I have meetings all day and won’t get to play, but as soon as it’s available for non-Tidal purchase, Jay will get my coins for this album. I appreciate the grown people subject matter AND the fact that it low key high key bangs. 4:44, Story of OJ, Bam, and Legacy gooooooo

  • Irked Wind & Tired (Hooba)

    I just came to watch y’all geek out.

    • NonyaB?

      Hooba!!! How you be?

      • Irked Wind & Tired (Hooba)

        Nonya!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m actually pretty good. Have just been laying low and staying hydrated. How be you?

        • NonyaB?

          Glad to hear it. I’m ok, enjoying the fact that it’s finally summer, including all the long weekends that come with it. ;)

  • miss t-lee

    We couldn’t even give it a solid 24, eh?

    • LMNOP

      I am so impressed how many people have listened to this album since midnight. Since midnight, I have successfully located my keys a few times, dragged my azz to work, and that’s about it.

      • miss t-lee

        Girl…
        I’ve listened to one song exactly and that’s because it was sent to me.
        Maybe I’ll track down the rest later on today. Right now I got my Release Radar on spotify going…lol

        And I love Jay…but I’ma let it breathe.

      • Every old head I know is very tired for work today. This is basically “Lemonade” for men of a certain age.

        • “This is basically “Lemonade” for men of a certain age.”

          I find that kind of sad. Need to think about that.

          • I’ve accepted that I like to be in bed by 10:30 and up by 6, that nuclear wings disagree with my constitution, and that I really want these kids to stay off my fucking lawn.

            • Kas

              Homeowners only care about their lawns and grilling on the weekend

              • Uniquely Blushed

                and making sure no one parks in front of my house. I cannot stand when a neighbor has house guests and they park in front of my house and not the house they are visiting.

                • I only moved to the suburbs in March and this is actually a huge pet peeve of mine, lol.

                • cedriclathan

                  Who cares if they not in your driveway?

                  • Uniquely Blushed

                    I care. Park in front of the house you are visiting. Where I live there are no sidewalks. So if you park in front of my house, you’re parking on my lawn. And note, I said lawn and not grass. My husband pays good money to have our lawn cared for.

              • Cheech

                Some neighbkrhood azzhole has started letting his dog leave big piles of crap right next to my Impeach Trump sign. The level of maturity involved here ….

            • Gibbous

              I can’t wait for the day I get a lawn, just for this very reason! *shakes fist*

            • Cheech

              Shid, now imagine it in another 20 ….

      • Uniquely Blushed

        The Breakfast Club and in DC (93.9 WKYS) played most of the songs this morning.

        • Mr. Mooggyy

          Damn! I don’t really listen to the regla radio anymore (thanks Sirius XM)! Mad I missed it. I’m sure one of those hip hop stations on XM will play it!

    • nah

      the ladyfolk get hyped when the the Boss Lady Beyonce drops, gotta allow the brothas the weekend to geek out

      • miss t-lee

        I didn’t get hyped over Yawnce either.
        Nice try though…lol

        • panamajackson

          you’re an outlier. i dug into all those albums almost instantly. for the culture.

          • miss t-lee

            I’m aware. ?

    • Of course not.

      • miss t-lee

        I just be asking questions, mayne…lol

    • HouseOfBonnets

      You know people react first then reflect later lol

      • miss t-lee

        Yeah, I was laughing at folks on twitter last night who had deemed it classic 5 minutes after it dropped.

      • I was that way with Lemonade. Declared it Bey’s best and now a year later…Self-titled is definitely the better album overall, though Lemonade has some great cuts. In my defense, the visuals consumed me, lol

        • miss t-lee

          At least you can admit that.
          The stans however…

        • Ms. Madam CJ Skywalker

          I agree.

    • Ess da 5’6″

      Lissen! This rush to have *thoughts* about an album after one–maybe two–listen got me rolling my eyes. Let the music breathe, damn!

      • miss t-lee

        I’m glad I’m not alone.
        Mi gente!!!

        • KB

          I’m proclaiming the album’s greatness after 4 straight listens. Usually albums don’t move me like this (in fact, not since GKMC have I been this impressed initially). I normally stream a new album a few days after its release then forget about it, but i have to give this the props it deserves.

          • miss t-lee

            I normally give it a full week. If it’s something I absolutely can’t stop listening to, then that’s it.

    • panamajackson

      To my credit – and yes im crediting myself – i’m gave as thorough thoughts as i could based on some very indepth listening without digging so far into the weeds (which is possible). and homie you know better, aint no 24 hours no more.

      now folks calling it the best album ever and being hyperbolic are doing too much. THAT AINT ME IM THORO.

      • miss t-lee

        I give you props PJack you didn’t go all hypebeast with it. You gave a pretty objective review.

    • Reemo

      It was on the interwebs yesterday afternoon but I see your point.

      • miss t-lee

        Of course you do.

  • Giantstepp

    I’m geeking to hear this joint, but I don’t have Tidal or Sprint. With technology, it’s difficult if not impossible for it not to leak to other places. I guess I will have be patient until it does.

    Wait, are physical CD’s still a thing? Can I go to Walmart or something and cop? Serious questions, people.

    • miss t-lee

      Target still carries physical CDs. Might try there, or a Mom and Pop store.

      • BrothasKeeper

        Best Buy?

        • Mr. Mooggyy

          Probably close enough! Those are closing fast too!

        • miss t-lee

          My BB has like a foot long space for cds…lol

          • BrothasKeeper

            Last CD I bought was from Best Buy in 2007. Amy Winehouse.

            • miss t-lee

              Good choice.

      • Cheech

        Target, Walmart. Is Barnes & noble still in that game?
        Or amazon and free prime delivery.

    • LMNOP

      Yes lol, CDs are still around. It’s probably not at Walmart yet.

      • Giantstepp

        I’ve heard with the Tidal thing, there are processes to go thru before the music is readily available. I will probably buy a copy as my whip still has a CD player :)

      • Never buy rap at the Mart. They are all edited.

        • miss t-lee

          Yup. Learned that lesson in like 6th grade.

          • Mr. Mooggyy

            Thee worst!

    • it’s probably going to be on streaming services for a week…not sure when physical copies will come out.

      • Giantstepp

        Thanks, I know that the tidal thing has first go at the release, and eventually other places will get it.

    • esa
  • You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit/
    You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it…/

    Friend posted this lyric and I gotta disagree with Jay. The message implicit in this myth- that economic empowerment will lead to increased political power- is false.

    • Seymore Cases

      Agreed. And Jews in America are really just the descendants of Central/Eastern European immigrants. They have some of that Asian/African immigrant work ethic but also benefit from white privilege….especially in today’s world. American (white) Jews are what regluh white folks strive to be without realizing it.

    • Cheech

      But did he imply anything about political power? The lyric seems straight economic.

      I mean, one way to look at it is a respectability message, with its attendant fallacy. But another way is just as a description of a tool. Positive, not normative.

      (Disclosure: haven’t listened, just responding to your post.)

      • I tend not to separate economic and political power. The resources you control impacts what you can do in the world.

    • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

      Facts. But I see what he’s aiming at.

    • jangul powell

      Tell that to the Koch brothers, Goldman Sachs execs, or Donald Trump. Money is the ONLY real power in an oligarchy, which is clearly what America is today. In an actual democracy, your point might stand. But, in the world we actually live in, Jay is more right than you are.

  • PhlyyPhree

    Eric Benet is upset.
    I find it hilarious.

    I HATE that everyone is focusing on the cheating. Again, NOT YALL BUSINESS, but there’s so much more to this album. I legit laughed out loud at the line about “Call me OJ…ok” I saw that Waka gif in my head.

    • Lots of people on my Twitter feed like “I will never forgive Jay for cheating on Bey.”

      I don’t understand the investment people have in their relationship.

      • esa

        a lot of people live by proxy.

        • cedriclathan

          I have a friend who was actually mad at me because I said I liked someone better than his favorite bass player. Crazy! He came around after he realized that musician wasn’t coming over to watch the game with him.

      • HouseOfBonnets

        *They are from the def con stan portion of the hive lol

      • HouseSublime

        Did Jay cheat on them as well?

      • [Insert Creative Name Here]

        Well, my mom won’t forgive Eric for cheating on Halle. Every time a song of his comes on, she reminds me. EVERY. TIME.

        • siante

          My mom too!

          • [Insert Creative Name Here]

            Lol

      • PhlyyPhree

        On a logical level, I get it.
        Lotta folk didn’t have representations of a wealthy successful black couple (and you have to include all the adjectives because your mom and dad who were marrieds 35+years aren’t billionaires so they not anybody’s role model on a grand scale). When you factor in Jay’s beginnings, to find out that he cheated, is kind of like finding out unicorns aren’t real and Trump is actually president.
        Plus we invest soooooo much in stars lives these days, it kinda felt like we all got cheated on.

        The part that gets me is the shock and awe like angry ain’t been telling us Hov been handing out community peen for yeaaaaaaaars

      • Question

        I wonder if this is what it was like for Ike and Tina…

      • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

        This is what I think most of the the non-hotep side-eye reaction lemonade from dudes was about. We get that it was the baseline of the whole artistic work and it was groundbreaking and, for many women, personally cathartic, but you had a grip of the hive walking around like they was in that relationship.

      • Ms. Madam CJ Skywalker

        Distraction from their own lives

    • miss t-lee

      Eric really reacted too…lol

      That “ok” was one of the most sarcastic ones I’ve ever heard. It’s gold.

      • PhlyyPhree

        Everrrrrr. Think I’m just gonna start inserting JayZ pauses in all my ok’s from now on.
        Just to make sure they get it. Lol

    • Ess da 5’6″

      That pause before “OK” killed me. Like, “Nicca, I guess.”

    • siante

      Eric Benet really thought he was done taking “L’s” over the Halle Berry situation & Jay-Z was like “nope!” lol

      • PhlyyPhree

        Ha! THOUGHT he was.

    • Junegirl627

      Look I believe a woman is only as crazy as life makes her so if you are part of the crazy, she will get worse. If you are apart of the healing she will find peace and work hard to make your peaceful space grow. So her crazy is a reflection of her world.

      In other words Eric needs to stop being mad that everybody gives him a “L” on Halle Berry and just go about his life. He cheated she made him look like a fool. Would he look like a fool if he hadn’t cheated? He went along with everything she said so don’t be mad now. Same thing with Gabriel Aubrey he only had a problem when she tried to shut down his checks and outed him as a closet racist. Clapping back is just dumb when you in the wrong too.

      • PhlyyPhree

        This here wooooooorrrrrrddddd!
        “Clapping back is just dumb when you in the wrong too”

        I do believe I need to gon head to tee spring with that.

    • Zil Nabu

      That OJ line is my current facebook status. I died the second I heard it. @$$hole Jay was in full affect on that song.

  • Junegirl627

    SON!!! I forgot it dropped!!!

  • HouseOfBonnets

    Just want to point out that I probably won’t hear this bad boy until next year lol

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