4:44: Jay-Z’s 13th Album Gets Reviewed…


At 4:44am Jay-Z woke up inspired to write. And it was so that his 13th studio album was birthed. The album, 4:44, instantaneously received worldwide reviews; some people loved it, while others (cough… cough… 50 Cent, MC Shan) did not. Whatever side you fall on regarding the 4:44 album, a few things are certain…


First, if you are not tuned into the culture (and by this, I mean Hip Hop culture) you will miss many of the references. Secondly, you need to listen to the album multiple times; it needs to be digested, you need to sit with it, and then, you need to listen to it again…  (well, at least I did). Lastly, you need to listen to it with three different lenses. There are interwoven messages from Jay-Z (the entrepreneur), Hov (the artist), and Sean Carter (the father) if you can pick up on it.

 So for the people that didn’t like the 4:44 album I’ll ask, “Do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it?”


The album plays like a poetic memoir: stories of the old, present and future Jay-Z/Hov/Jay/Sean Cater. And like any good storyteller, he is painting a vivid picture of where he came from and takes us along the journey with him. Behind these many layers, Jay-Z’s 4:44 album is talking directly at the black community. Topics explored include:

The politics of the entertainment industry (Moonlight)

Black troupes in America (The Story of O.J)

Affirmations and mental growth for Black people (Smile)

Black excellence (Family Feud)

Black male/father stigmas (4:44)

Legacy and generational wealth (Legacy)


It’s hard to pick a favorite song, but here are a few lines that resonated with me.

Kill Jay-Z: “We know the pain is real, but you can’t heal what you never reveal.”

The Story of O.J:  “Please don’t die over the neighborhood, that your mama renting. Take your drug money and buy the neighborhood, that’s how you rinse it.”

Smile: “A loss ain’t a loss, it’s a lesson.”

Caught Their Eyes: “Invisible ink,  I had to read things that weren’t there”

Moonlight: “We stuck in La La Land, even when we win, we gon’ lose.”

Legacy: “Generational  wealth that’s the key, my parents ain’t have shit so that shift started with me.”

I mean, I could go on and on dissecting the album line by line, but I will leave it up to you to make up your mind. Listen to to Jay-Z’s 4:44 album again, and decide for yourself.


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