Album Review | JAY-Z – 4:44

Click HERE to stream this album

Ladies & gentlemen, the moment has finally come. This is what it was all for. I was supposed to be finished with this marathon before this album even came out. You’ll have to forgive me for the wait; I didn’t really have as much time as I normally would since I had to go to orientation for college. I’m also severely depressed, so that kinda erases any motivation I have sometimes. Everything’s good now tho. I’m finally about to listen to the JAY-Z album I’ve always wanted. This is supposed to be his most introspective project to date. I’ve avoided all the singles and music videos just so that I could experience it all at once. I think I’m gonna love this album. I’m honestly expecting this to be my favorite JAY-Z project. Every song is produced by No I.D.

Track 1: Kill Jay Z

Alright, here we go. It’s starting now. Oh my god. It’s so fucking bad. Lmao. I’m just kidding. This beat is dope af. Alright, it’s already obvious that this album is more introspective than any other body of work Jay’s ever released. You could’ve gathered that from the song titles tho. This is a far cry from Tom Ford. Remember how I stated that some of the songs on his previous album saw Jay verbally sucking his own dick? This song is him castrating himself.

Cry, Jay Z; we know the pain is real / But you can’t heal what you never reveal / What’s up, Jay Z? You know you owe the truth / To all the youth that fell in love with Jay Z.

It’s like he’s finally self aware. He’s literally telling himself what I’ve always complained about. It’s interesting that he’s rapping in second person. Nobody does that. He finally responded to Kanye’s rant about him not calling him, and their children not playing together.

You got hurt because you did cool by Ye / You gave him 20 million without blinkin’ / He gave you 20 minutes on stage, fuck was he thinkin’? / “Fuck wrong with everybody?” is what you sayin’ / But if everybody’s crazy, you’re the one that’s insane.

I guess it would be hard for him to call out Kanye without being honest and self aware about his own flaws. Woooah. He even addressed the incident where he stabbed the fuck outta Un. DAMN. He ALSO addressed himself gettin’ fuckin’ rocked by Solange.

You stabbed Un over some records / Your excuse was “He was talkin’ too reckless” / Let go your ego over your right shoulder / Your left is sayin’, “Finish your breakfast” / You egged Solange on / Knowin’ all along all you had to say you was wrong.

God fucking damn. This is awesome. I like the way he played with the breakfast theme in those lines. That was dope. Oh fucking shit. Okay, he pretty much just admitted to cheating on Beyoncé. Wow. Why the fuck… You know what? I’m not even gonna go down that road… Actually, fuck that. Who could he possibly have cheated on FUCKING BEYONCÉ with??? This motherfucker is literally married to the female version of Jesus Christ, and she STILL got cheated on. Goddamn. I have GOT to see who this mystery side chick was. That chick better be the baddest woman in the universe. Smh. Alright sorry. Anyway, the song just ended. It’s just one verse. I love it. This is gonna be a good ass album. This shit is dope af.

Track 2: The Story of O.J. (Co-Prod. JAY-Z)

The Story of O.J.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this track, and the music video in particular. You know what? I’m just gonna sit back and watch the music video first, and then I’ll come back to talk about the song. Wow. Lmao. Okay, I just watched it. Y’all… I fucking love JAY-Z. Hahaha. This song is fucking incredible. The beat is amazing. I love Jay’s laid back delivery on this shit too. As soon as he made fun of O.J. for this dumbass quote, I had a big dumb smile on my face. The whole song is JAY-Z giving advice to other black people on how to succeed and not be held back by systemic oppression. The whole “O.J.” theme comes from the idea that no matter who you are, you’re “still nigga.” Only if you’re black tho. Obviously you can’t say something like that to Donald Trump. Imagine if Donald Trump was black. He’d probably be dead honestly. I love how he shitted on these corny ass new school rappers who hold money up to their ear. That “money phone” shit is unbearably corny. If you’ve ever even thought about doing something like that, you’re a fucking lame ass douchebag. Smh… That’s some basic ass shit. That’s trend follower shit. Anyway, this song is even fucking better than the first track. I fucking love this shit. And yeah, I said I love JAY-Z. I’m comfortable calling myself a fan now. I still think he’s one of the most overrated artists in history, but he’s still dope. This shit is fantastic.

Track 3: Smile Feat. Gloria Carter (Co-Prod. JAY-Z)

Smile

This beat is dope af. Holy fucking shit. Bruh… Lmao. JAY-Z made this fucking album? Did somebody ghostwrite this shit for him? Nah, that wouldn’t make sense… Look at this…

Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian / Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian / Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate / Society shame and the pain was too much to take / Cried tears of joy when you fell in love / Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her.

Yo… If you would’ve told me that JAY-Z would ever make a song about his mother being lesbian, I would’ve thought one of us was crazy. First of all, I wouldn’t expect to hear this kinda content from ANY rapper, so the fact that it’s coming from Jay makes it even more awesome. This is fuckin’ crazy. Man… This hook is awesome too. No I.D. put his ASS in this shit. He fucked this beat. Jay has a slightly melodic delivery on the hook. This is a really sweet song dedicated to his mother. It has kind of a sad vibe to me. Shit brings a tear to my motherfuckin’ eye.

Bad times turn to good memories; smile / Even when I’m gone and you remember me; smile / Good times never fade away; smile / Even if I’m not with you here today; smile.

Sad

This shit makes me wanna hug someone. God I love this shit. This is the best possible effect music can have on me. It reminds me what it feels like to be in love. This may sound cliché and really fucking corny, but it literally makes my heart feel fuzzy. That’s exactly how I felt when I fell in love. Jesus. Lmao. I haven’t even gotten to the second verse yet. Holy fucking shitballs. Yo… Okay the second verse was cool, but he fuckin’ murdered that final verse. Gotdamn. That Spoken Word outro from his mom was dope too. This is my favorite track so far, and possibly my favorite JAY-Z song period. This shit is dope af.

Track 4: Caught Their Eyes Feat. Frank Ocean (Co-Prod. JAY-Z)

This beat is dope. Jay has a melodic delivery on this intro, and he actually doesn’t sound bad. He’s not trying to hit a note or anything. He’s staying in his lane thankfully. This first verse is really dope.

I survived readin’ guys like you / I’m surprised y’all think you can disguise y’all truths / I seen eyes wide as they’re about to shoot / You can be a hairpin off and you can trigger your roots / I wave to these haters, don’t give me dap / You know the world can see just how phony you act.

Man, the way he ended that verse was fuckin’ awesome. The hook from Frank is alright. I feel like any singer could’ve done what he did. Unless he wrote the lyrics. I don’t know what other singer would mention solipsism. Jay’s dissing Londell McMillan in the second verse for exploiting Prince’s death for financial gain.

This guy had “SLAVE” on his face / You think he wanted the masters with his masters? / You greedy bastards sold tickets to walk through his house / I’m surprised you ain’t auction off the casket.

This is definitely my least favorite song on the album so far, but it’s still really fuckin’ good. I like this song. This is dope.

Track 5: 4:44

4.44 8

Oh fucken shit. This beat is dope af. Okay, this is definitely the track where he addresses his infidelity. The entire first verse is basically just him saying “I’m a piece of shit.” This is fucking awesome. I can’t believe this is a JAY-Z song. It contains some of the most poetic imagery I’ve ever heard from him.

I apologize ’cause at your best you are love / And because I fall short of what I say I’m all about / Your eyes leave with the soul that your body once housed / And you stare blankly into space.

The first verse was great. Man, No I.D. fuckin’ killed this shit. I don’t even know what else to say honestly. This is just really fuckin’ good.

Not meant to cry and die alone in these mansions / Or sleep with our back turned / We supposed to vacay ’til our backs burn / We’re supposed to laugh ’til our heart stops / And then meet in a space where the dark stop / And let love light the way.

That's sad…

He focuses more on his daughter’s perspective for the final verse. This is a heavy ass song. This whole album is really heavy. I really fuck with this track. It’s dope af.

Track 6: Family Feud Feat. Beyoncé

This beat is cool. I’m almost halfway through the whole song. I don’t really have much to say about it. This is definitely the most underwhelming track on the album so far. I’m still enjoying it tho. There’s just not really anything that helps it stand out from the rest of the album. Saying this track features Beyoncé is like saying 30 Hours featured Andre 3000. Well, actually she contributed a bit more than that. Damn. The second verse was a lot more impressive than the first one. That line about Biggie was pretty goddamn corny, but the following lines were great.

Y’all think small; I think Biggie / Y’all whole pass is in danger, ten Mississippi / Al Sharpton in the mirror takin’ selfies / How is him or Pill Cosby ‘posed to help me? / Old niggas never accepted me / New niggas is the reason I stopped drinkin’ Dos Equis / We all lose when the family feuds / What’s better than one billionaire? Two.

That verse was dope af. I like Beyoncé’s vocals on the outro a lot too. This is still my least favorite track on the album so far, but I like it a lot. This shit is dope to me.

Track 7: Bam Feat. Damian Marley

Oh fucking shit. This beat is dope af. I like this hook from Damian Marley too. This is the first song on the album that sounds like it could’ve possibly been on another project. It’s not a super emotional, introspective song.

We the only ones really movin’ like y’all say y’all do / We still movin’ like y’all niggas say y’all did / Emory passed you niggas and he did a bid / Ty Ty jumped over niggas and he’s like 5’6″ / Got the heart of a giant; don’t you ever forget.

He states in this song that he’s rapping from the perspective of “Hov” rather than “Shawn.” So I guess Hov is his less introspective side. The first verse was great. So far this is the only song that could MAYBE be a single, but I really can’t even see this one being played on the radio. It has kind of an aggressive tone. He’s pretty much just telling all the younger rappers to watch their mouths, and warning people like Drake to get off his dick.

Y’all make me turn up all this talkin’ down / Niggas is skippin’ leg day just to run they mouth / I be skippin’ leg day, I still run the world / I pressed ahead of your team with one finger curled / I’ll line you all up with one finger wave / Make niggas weave, niggas is out here fake.

It’s more likely that this line is targeting Kanye West tho. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence that it seems to reference 30 Hours. Jay killed that second verse tho. I liked the outro from Damian Marley too. This shit is dope.

Track 8: Moonlight (Co-Prod. JAY-Z)

This beat is dope. It has that popular Fugees sample that Nas used on Major 🔑. The hook’s not bad. He’s pretty much singing, but he doesn’t try to go too far with it. HA. I love the way he starts the first verse. He pretty much just shitted on the youngest generation of Hip Hop by pointing out the redundant themes in their songs.

Y’all fuck the same fuckin’ chicks / I’m in the SKRT with yo- yeah, right / I’m the SKRT with yo- cool story / I’m on the j- enough of this.

This is fucking awesome. This is even more aggressive than the previous track. Yesss. I love how he’s shitting on all the corny lyrical trends of the current generation of Hip Hop. He called out fake ass gangsta rappers and self-snitchers. The hook is genius too.

Y’all stuck in La La Land / Even when we win, we gon’ lose / Y’all got the same fuckin’ flows / I don’t know who is who.

I’m actually kinda surprised I haven’t heard more rappers reference that incident at the Oscar’s. To be fair, I haven’t been listening to that much current music recently, so that’s probably why. Damn. Jay even pointed out how stupid it is to sign to a major label these days. His flow on the second verse was great. This is a pretty short song, but it’s definitely one of my favorites. This shit dope af.

Track 9: Marcy Me

This beat is dope. Holy fuck. His flow on this first verse is awesome. Oh fuck… Man… It’s gonna be hard to choose a favorite song. Shit. It’s between this and Smile. This beat is amazing. I love this song’s simplistic structure. It’s just two verses with a short break in the middle, and an uncredited outro from The Dream. As you probably could’ve gathered from the title of this song, he’s rapping about the neighborhood in which he grew up. The way he included that quote from Hamlet in the first verse was so fucking cool. That reference to Lil Uzi Vert in the second verse was awesome too.

Old Brooklyn, not this new shit; shit feel like a spoof / Fat laces in your shoe, I’m talkin’ bustin’ off the roof / Hold a Uzi vertical, let the thing smoke / Y’all flirtin’ with death, I be winkin’ through the scope.

He fuckin’ killed this shit. As I stated earlier, this is another one of my favorite tracks. I loved the outro from The Dream. I don’t have any problems with this track at all honestly. This shit is dope af to me.

Track 10: Legacy (Co-Prod. JAY-Z)

God the production on this album is so fuckin’ soulful. This beat is fantastic. Okay, this is a great way to end the album. He’s rapping about how he wants his wealth to be spread after he passes away.

I’d like to see a nice peace-fund ideas from people who look like we / We gon’ start a society within a society / That’s major, just like the Negro League.

This kinda makes it seem like he’s not… I mean, this track makes it feel like this is gonna be his last album. I honestly kinda hope that’s not the case. It’d be weird if he went back to the style he had on Watch the Throne or Magna Carta Holy Grail after dropping an album like this tho. The hook is nothing special, but it does it’s job. Woah… Man… That final verse was incredible. He talked about how his grandfather was a preacher who molested his aunt, and how he hated religion because of that, and how he studied Islam & Buddhism & Christianity.

See how the universe works? / It takes my hurt and help me find more of myself / It’s a gift and a curse.

This song is amazing. That last verse really put it over the top for me. I loved how he ended the song with that Donny Hathaway sample. This shit is dope af.

Final Thoughts:

This album is amazing. This is easily my favorite JAY-Z album. Honestly… I really don’t have any problems with this album. Like… There’s nothing wrong with it. There are some tracks that aren’t really as good as others in my opinion, but I can’t say there are any consistent flaws with it. I’m so glad he finally went in this direction. This entire album is like the polar opposite of Magna Carta Holy Grail. Not just in terms of the lyricism and content, but the production and overall sound as well. This album won’t appeal to mainstream audiences who prefer The Blueprint 3. There are no hit songs here. None of this can be played at a party, or in a strip club, or at an event of any kind. Well, it’s JAY-Z, so people are probably gonna find an excuse to shoehorn some songs into inappropriate situations I guess. Remember this line?

If skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be lyrically Talib Kweli / Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense / But I did 5 mill; I ain’t been rhyming like Common since.

Jay reneged on that sentiment for this album. This is what I’ve always wanted from him. I never understood why he got so much praise for just doing what every other mainstream rapper does, but more consistently. His art itself just never impressed me that much. This album is truly amazing tho. If Jay ends up releasing more music in the future, I don’t know what direction he’d go in. He might do what he did with this album, or he might go in a completely new direction. I don’t think he’s gonna make another Magna Carta Holy Grail tho. As I stated earlier, that would just feel bizarre after something like this. So yeah. It was worth it. I’m glad I’ve listened to his entire discography. This shit is dope af.

Favorite Song: Smile

Least Favorite Song: Family Feud

Verdict:

A

90-95

Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album

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5 comments

  1. I agree with the sentiments stated here.

    It’s Jay’s best entry out of his discography, each track flows perfectly into each other and really shows at 40-sumthin’ that he really realizes what’s most important in life and he’s owned up to his mistakes while being completely transparent. (Main examples being 4:44, Smile, Legacy)

    I dig it. Coastal bias aside, I’ll give this project a 9.5/10.

    Sidenote(s): I appreciate that Jay called out Kanye’s lunacy. However maybe he should have gone a lil more deeper imo. Especially with the rumors of Kanye attempting to force a friendship with Beyonce/Kim.

    Jay calling out these newer kids is honestly surprising, since with how political he’s gotten within the music biz.

    When listening to “Story” it reminded me of a scene in Boyz N The Hood where Laurence Fishburne speaks on gentrification & Black Ownership. Check it out below.

    Great Job Nick!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to see you enjoyed this. The Black Album will always be my favorite Hov album, but this tape was great. Who are you planning on doing a marathon for next?

    Liked by 1 person

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