Allow him to reintroduce himself. After four years, JAY-Z has returned with his highly-anticipated 13th album, 4:44, a project that was shrouded in mystery before its release.
Marking Jigga’s first LP since 2013’s Magna Carta…Holy Grail, 4:44 was produced entirely by No I.D. and features 10 tracks, with appearances by Beyoncé (“Family Feud”), Frank Ocean (“Caught Their Eyes”), Damian Marley (“Bam”), Kim Burrell (“4:44”), The-Dream (“Marcy Me”), Jay’s mother Gloria Carter (“Smile”), and even Blue Ivy (“Legacy”).
The album begins with “Kill Jay Z,” a song that was previously teased in a series of black-and-white snippets featuring Mahershala Ali, Danny Glover, and Lupita Nyong’o. “Kill Jay Z,” he raps. “They’ll never love you / You’ll never be enough.” From there, the album continues with a deeply personal narrative, addressing his mother’s sexuality (“Smile”), his marriage (“4:44”), and his children (“Legacy”).
Throughout the course of the album, Shawn Carter also rhymes about current events and news stories, including his feud with Kanye West (“Kill Jay Z”), his legal battle with Prince’s estate (“Caught Their Eyes”), race relations (“The Story of O.J.” and “Moonlight,” among others), and the state of hip-hop’s generational wars (“Family Feud”).
Curving industry conventions, S-Dot teased the LP without singles. Instead, he released brief snippets of “Adnis,” “Kill Jay Z,” and “MaNyfaCedGod,” each hinting at the album’s visual component. While that hasn’t been released yet, Hov has unleashed an animated video for “The Story Of O.J.,” which was directed by Mark Romanek and JAY-Z, himself.
4:44 is currently available only to Sprint and TIDAL customers. Earlier this year, JAY-Z inked a reported $200 million deal between his streaming service and Sprint.