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ALBUM REVIEW: JAY Z – 4:44

I’M BACK! Damn it feels good to be back. It’s really been a long time coming.Let’s jump right in shall we? First I’d like to thank Jay Z for giving me the inspiration to review music again.  I guess Jay decided to follow in his wife’s footsteps and drop the album unexpectedly because he really doesn’t need the extra marketing, right?  I think 2017 kinda needed an album like this. I feel like there’s been so much going on but when a  Jay Z album comes out we all just stop and listen. Also, as a hip-hop head , I’ve missed those classic hip-hop beats that I would normally hear in a classic Hip-hop album. Don’t get me wrong… I hoped on the trap train this year and I’ve enjoyed listening to Migos and the likes but I’ve had an appetite for some real lyricism. So yeah, thank you Jay.

This isn’t a first listen review but I wanna write it as if it were, okay? So here we are, Kill Jay Z Breathe in. Breathe out. Press play. What an enthralling beat to start the album with. Wow Jay sounds like he’s giving himself some kind of pep talk, you can hear the sentiment in his voice with every word he’s spitting. This is so raw and uncensored it kind of shocked me at first and then I really began to empathize with the things he was saying. “You almost went Eric Benet, let the baddest girl in the world get away” .Oh shit he’s spilling that tea. This is for all of you that didn’t think that “Lemonade” was autobiographical, well Jay is about to address that whole situation for you with this album.We can see a softer side of Jay here as he  reflects on his past mistakes and criticizes himself for the times he fucked up. Damn this is the kind of self-awareness and honesty that hip-hop needs more of! What a fucking game changer and this is just the first song! I’m done!  This is such a crazy intro, dude sounds fed up with himself… holy shit! Bye Jay Z! I guess Shawn Carter is taking over now…

Oh shit, I must say the transition from Kill Jay Z to The Story of O.J is so smooth. This beat is flawless, damn bring those samples back baby! I love that hook, he talks being a field nigga and house nigga. It sounds like he’s giving lessons to black people on generational wealth…talking about credit being better than stuntin’ in strip clubs. Yaasss teach us dad! He needed to do this, pass on these lessons ! I love that he’s giving us a bit of insight into his entrepreneurial, businessman side. He literally even mentioned feeling dumb for not investing in property in the past. This is some grown man talk. I think the song also kind of refers to the fact that however rich he gets he’s still black and there’s still structural racism in America and a lot of white privilege. His flow is effortless here; this is what a seasoned rapper sounds like! Damn Jay is not taking it with these fake rich niggas on the gram haha yes put them in their place!  Hov needs to seriously write a book, I feel like every line of this has so much power! This guy is so invaluable to the culture, oh my.

Smile has a really churchy, gospel feel to it! I love it. I love what he’s giving us so far. Is it weird that I think Jay sounds extremely mature here, I mean he sounds grown and wise… like he’s finally come full circle. He sounds like he’s found peace with himself . This is a much wiser, fatherly-like Hov speaking. Oh my God the bars on this though…. This is the longest song on the album, he really stacked up those bars. This dude rapping like he was never retired, oh shit! Now this sounds like 90’s /early 2000’s Hov,  he’s got his voice back and he’s going in!  It’s just a really groovy,  positive sound. It actually makes me wanna smile just from hearing Jay rapping like this. Niggas should take some notes, this flow is so sharp! Gahdamn.  So far this album is black as fuck and I love it! Ending the song is a poem by Jay’s mother, Gloria Carter. Jay also reveals that his mother is a lesbian in the song! Wow!

Ok when I heard that NO I.D solely produced this album I had high expectations , but I think my expectations have been met and surpassed so far. These beats are so stellar! This is one of the few songs on the album with a featured artist. Happy to see that it’s Frank Ocean on Caught Their Eyes. His vocals are a bit sped up but they sound alright. I feel like there’s a deeper message in this track that I’m gonna have to decipher later. Nevertheless, you can’t really hate this song! So far so good, haven’t skipped any tracks. 6 more to go! Let’s go!

Okay here we are !The title track. This is where a lot of truths are gonna come out. I can’t wait. I’m mentally prepared! Oh shit. That sample is so early 2000’s Kanye. I love it. No I.D is a fucking legend in his own right, two legends together one one album this is too much man! The simplicity of it is so refreshing, it’s just pure HipHop . Okay, Jay has addressed what everyone was suspecting. When Lemonade came out I personally believed that it was autobiographical but a lot of people were like “ Beyonce wouldn’t be with him if he cheated” blah blah but I knew it was true. From listening to Beyonce’s music for years I know that she normally sings songs about her life experiences.  SO for you all who needed a confirmation, this is it. Jay Z was unfaithful to Beyonce, but he has apologized and they’ve since moved on. His big pimpin’ days are over and he is a changed man. Wow , he says it took Blue Ivy to be born for him to change. That’s crazy. I love that Jay is putting this all out there, showing us their marriage isn’t perfect and that HE isn’t perfect. This is really brave of him.  It’s good that they revealed all of this AFTER working on their marriage, and that they didn’t let it play out in the media even after the infamous Solange elevator incident lol. Shawn Carter sounds so disappointed in Jay Z, it’s definitely a really contemplative track. This is some grown shit! He’s asking himself some tough questions. He sounds kinda emotional in this. This is probably the most personal I’ve heard Jay get, he’s even recounting the story of how he and Bey got together. I’m kind of disappointed to hear that he did all this to Bey but at the same time, I’m glad he got his shit together and saved their marriage. This song is basically an apology to Beyonce and his family. I’m in my feels now oh man:(

Damn another looped sample  ! Give it to me NO I.D !  So far this album is revealing and personal as fuck, but there’s the recurring theme of black pride as well. Family Feud gets a bit deeper into this theme. It’s not hard to miss those lovely Beyonce vocals in the background. It’s a juxtaposition that he uses her vocals and continues to address his unfaithfulness in this song. They’re being a united front, good for them. Hov is being playful in the studio, this song feels lighter and more lively. This album is perfectly structured so far, he really applied his music executive knowledge here. The way the songs are flowing into each other is impeccable, take notes people! He also addresses the separation in hip hop culture these days and the disconnect between the old-school and the new-school rappers. He’s basically emphasizing that everyone should try to understand each other and unite for the good of the culture. He’s so spot on about this, especially after that Migos , Joe Budden scuffle at the BET awards haha “Nobody wins when the family feuds”. Believe that!

Bam comes in heavy! Damian Marley bringing in that reggae flavor , yes! Okay these bars sound a lot like the Jay Z we’re used to. He’s talking a lot of shit, he’s letting that ego out. This is a big tune. No I.D is killing it ! This song just pumps you up, makes you wanna fuck shit up! I love the energy Hov brings into this. My favorite line is when he says “We the only ones really movin’ like y’all say y’all do,We still movin’ like y’all niggas say y’all did” – this is legendary shade… “I can’t take no threats, I got a set of twins” DAMN Hov reminding everyone who the fuck he is.  Damn this is a huge contrast to the way he started the album, I love how it’s building up!

In Moonlight,  he continues to address a lot of problems he sees in the black community. He sounds so fed up with people and the industry! People are finding Kanye shade all over the album, so far I honestly can’t say there’s anything that stands out to me as being specifically  directed to Ye.  NO I.D uses “Fu-Gee-La” for the sample, pretty good stuff.  Jay criticizes how similar everyone sounds in the industry at the moment, and how a lot of artists are literally shooting themselves in the foot.  “Stop walking around like y’all made Thriller.” I Swear this album can also serve as an intervention for a lot of these industry kids. TELL EM JAY!

Jay begins Marcy Me by paying homage to Biggie. Man, this is hiphop right here. Jay is basically painting a picture of his old hood, the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn.  He puts his storyteller hat with this one as he talks about the 80s and 90s when he was on the come up. The imagery he brings here  is quite impressive but hey this is Jay Z, I expected nothing less! This is beautiful, I mean I should have cried earlier but this makes me wanna cry right now.

Aaaah the album is coming to an end and I’m sad but I’m also content. Hov has said a lot, he’s gotten a lot of things off his chest and now it’s up to us to interpret his message for ourselves. This has been an amazing experience, this is an album for the culture. Anyway, let’s wrap this up. The second “Legacy” started playing I recognized the sample because I fucking love Donny Hathaway’s “Someday we’ll all be free” dude NO I.D IS A GENIUS .Jay preaches black excellency here and he continues to emphasize on the importance of keeping money in the family, creating generational wealth, and leaving behind a legacy.  These are things that he’s doing in his own family and wants to be an example for other people in the black community. This is so inspirational. This song is deep. I feel like he’s really speaking to black people and telling  them to smarten up !

This album can be used as a handbook to life if you listen deeply enough. There’s so many lessons to learn. I love that this is the track that finishes the album. Jay truly opened up in this album. This is that album you make after you’ve beaten the odds and don’t have to brag about it anymore. Jay is talking about the future now, he’s truly a visionary. I actually can’t deal, I feel a bit sad that this is over. I know I can listen to it  again but I FEEL like I need someone to hold my hand now. Hov navigates personal and political themes in this album so skillfully .I don’t know what else to say, there’s nothing to argue about here, Jay Z Is a fucking legend. Jay Z has no competition, this is an album for LIFE.

 

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