Listen, I was up until the wee hours of the morning listening to JAY-Z’S 4:44. Confession: I have not always been the biggest JAY-Z fan, now that that’s out of the way. It still didn’t stop me from being able to appreciate a solid piece of work.
There is a schism in rap culture. Mumble/youthful rappers challenging the status quo, and in my opinion the art of rap itself. Some argue its simply progression in the art of rap, others not so much. JAY-Z addresses this on Family Feud. At the end of the day, they both can coexist, but respect is due to the elders of the rap community. Rap artist must get back to telling meaningful stories and showing the progression in the lives through their craft; along with not just entertaining but also educating its fans using their huge platform of influence.
JAY-Z’S 4:44 touched on so many pressing issues that impact blacks. On the tracks, The Story of OJ, Legacy and Mercy Me, and Smile, he visits issues such as debt, generational wealth, two parent households, infidelity, economic empowerment, property investments, non traditional investments, supporting a parent’s decision to “come out” and internal racial divides. The album is a full body of work detailing the woes and highlighting the accomplishments.
Many may get caught in trying to make the connection with Beyonce’s Lemonade album, understandably so. However, I would encourage listeners to not get stuck there, because there are plenty more gems on 4:44. One thing I do admire about JAY -Z and Bey, is their ability to control the narrative surrounding their marriage. They only reveal to you what they want you to know. Many couples can take a cue from them. In the day of social media, too many are so eager to blast and drag their significant other using it.
Hats off to the JAY-Z, for keeping the culture intact and demontrating why so many of us fell in love with hip hop in the first place. Masterful production, tight bars, clarity, and the ability to take us places mentally with the press of the play button! Using his enormous platform to drop some much needed knowledge. Now it makes perfect sense why record execs are in no rush to sign rappers that actually have something to say. There to busy getting rich off of ignorance. Imagine them using their wealth to spread knowledge via rap artist to young and impressionable black and brown kids. Yea, I couldn’t imagine it either! Take care beautiful people!
Pick up your Tidal subscription today here