By: Roberto De La Rosa-Finch – Online Editor
Family. Lessons from ‘Bed-Stuy.’ Black and rap culture. And balancing the ego. These are the cornerstones of the thirteenth studio album from JAY-Z, “4:44.”
JAY, the newest member, and first rapper, inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, provided his fans Friday with honest lyricism and head-bopping production.
He begins the album with “Kill JAY Z,” a sarcastic song meant to kill “off the ego, so we can have this conversation in a place of vulnerability and honesty.”
Sonically, samples from Stevie Wonder, Fugees and Kool & the Gang alike perfectly blended with a multitude of brass and drums.
But lyrics like the one below are what make this album stand out.
“‘You did what with who?’/What good is a ménage à trois when you have a soulmate?/‘You risked that for Blue?’”
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These lyrics come from the album-titled track “4:44,” supporting his claim of vulnerability and what JAY calls “one of the best songs I’ve ever written.”
He continues this honesty about his relationship with singer Beyoncé, his mother and his children in songs “Legacy” (which is also a verbal will) and “Smile.”
A veteran of hip-hop and a self-made entrepreneur, JAY reveals his assessment of the rap game and black success in songs “Moonlight” and “Family Feud.”
Preaching from the rap pedestal he sits on, he addresses the new wave of rap with lines like, “We got the same f*ckin’ flows/I don’t know who is who,” and “Y’all n***as still signin’ deals? Still? After all they done stole, for real?”
Without dissecting each and every track, it is safe to say that this album isn’t a collection of tracks from a washed-up rap artist.
JAY devotes himself to taking on his faults and struggles, promoting his triumphs, offering advice to the younger generation, and affirming his credence of black people’s potential.
Photo Courtesy of eonline.com and genius.com