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.

  • PurpleIntrovert

    I have sprint because it’s cheap lol.
    I guess I need to figure out the Tidal thing for just one day.

    • Deige

      it comes with a free 6month rial subscription :-)

  • miss t-lee

    I surprised you didn’t mention about Jay’s bars about his Mom coming out.

    • panamajackson

      this piece as getting maaaaaaaad long. and um, thats what she said. but there’s a bunch i left on the table. there’s a lot to unpack and a whole lot of think piecing i believe we’ll be doing.

      • miss t-lee


  • HouseOfBonnets

    This Calvin Harris bumping though

    • miss t-lee


  • Lucille A Bluth

    The Future reference on Kill Jay Z though. I’m WEAK.

    • That line is nice one. The 13 bottles of Aces of Space, look what it did to Boston was a killer line too.

  • Who do I have to kill to get a hard copy of this? Now I have to keep telling myself “I will not but TIDAL.”

  • KB

    Gotta admit I wasn’t checking for this album but when i saw that it dropped last night I had to check it out (shouts out to my friend who gifted me a year subscription to Tidal). Simply put, the album is PHENOMENAL! I listened to it all the way through 4 times in a row. I haven’t been blown away by an album in a long time, but this album blew me away. 4:44 is a masterpiece simply put. I have not one complaint about any of it; lyrics are on point, i love the succinctness of the album (it doesn’t drag on for 15-16 tracks), production is superb. I mean I could go on and on, but i wont. I will just enjoy some of HOV’s finest work. I feel like this album squashed any question of whether or not HOV is the GOAT.

  • Young Olu

    IT’S LIT!

  • outlyer06

    i’m at the office right now listening to this…if you’re a beat head…this sht here is phucking ear candy!
    after the last 2 albums i was skeptical..but this ish is dope!

  • TCB

    You already know what I’m here for. Step up and get this fade if it’s what you want.

    Jigga is the goat

    • Kas

      How you doing?

      • TCB

        Looking at a for sale sign in front of the crib right now Kas. Trying to stay focused on the business of this all. Been able to put together better days tho

        • miss t-lee

          Good to see you round, man.

          • TCB

            I been lurkin. Not enough time to commit to the comments like I wanna right now.

            • miss t-lee

              Gotcha. :)

            • YeaSoh

              I feel you, man. It’s like watching everybody playing at recess from the classroom.


        • Kas

          That’s a tough one. Try to keep your head up at least 4 of the 7 days of the week.

          • TCB

            I’m at a strong 3

            • Kas

              It will get tolerable and then better.

        • NonyaB?

          Hang in there and here’s to better days ahead.

    • Mr. Mooggyy

      What it is TCB?!

      ….I can’t see myself signing up for Tidal. But as someone said elsewhere in this thread, I will support as soon as it’s available on other platforms.

      • Jae Starz

        Same! I feel all out the loop but not enough that I want to sign up for Tidal.

        • Mr. Mooggyy


      • Kas

        TheCollinsB was his previous Avi name.

        • Mr. Mooggyy

          I know who he is mane!

          • Kas

            My bad

            • Mr. Mooggyy

              Preciate the lookout tho! Some of these folks be changing up and I can’t keep up! *looks at Tam and Brass*

              • Kas

                I read it as, what is TCB

                • Mr. Mooggyy

                  Oh! Forgive my improper Ebonics!

      • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

        I find this very interesting now where people are signed up for other streaming services, but have an issue with Tidal. Can someone clarify that for me? Is it a matter of convenience in that Spotify came first or is it the price point (which as changed to be the same as Spotify so that hurdle is removed).

    • Ess da 5’6″

      *recalls the year 2016 when Collin ran all up and through these comments fighting people about Jay*

      • miss t-lee


      • Kas

        How can it be forgotten!

      • TCB

        I’ll do it again Ess. Because I’m stupid.

        • Kas

          People don’t understand true passion these days.

          • NonyaB?

            Fan those flames, Kashmir!

            • Kas

              Doing what I do.

      • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

        He was unleashed and we was here for it.

    • Michelle is my First Lady

      Good to see you.

      • TCB

        Same fam.

    • NonyaB?

      *Cackles at TCB calmly rolling up his sleeves in preparation for battle*


  • BrothasKeeper

    Should I sign up for Tidal, or nah?

    • miss t-lee

      Even if you do you can’t listen to the album for 7 days…at least that’s what angry Twitter peeps are saying.

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