When news came down the pipeline that
Jay-Z Jay Z JAY-Z was gearing up for a new studio album, 4:44, the reception was rather muted. Once again opting to partner with a major corporation (Sprint) – 2013’s Magna Carta Holy Grail arrived in July of that year with a Samsung sponsorship – 4:44 felt like the logical conclusion to his declaration over a decade ago of being a “business, man.” And after a sensationalized account of infidelity on Beyoncé’s Lemonade (2016) as well as the infamous elevator fight at the Met Gala in 2014 involving Solange Knowles, the world sure wasn’t clamoring for new JAY-Z music. So, where does arguably the world’s biggest rap star go from here? He kills himself, figuratively speaking.
“Kill Jay Z” is the opening track on 4:44 and sets the tone for JAY-Z’s most lucid collection of songs since The Black Album. It’s a refreshing change of course from the ego-driven work of Holy Grail, with JAY-Z effectively ridding himself of all his extra baggage. “You gotta do better, boy / You owe it to Blue,” he says to himself before turning his eye towards “little brother” Kanye West. The two have talked to each other through their music in the past – specifically West on Graduation‘s “Big Brother” – and JAY returns the favor here. A lot of people will quote the parts of his verse that detail his grievances with Ye, but this isn’t some bridge-burning stuff. It’s mostly stuff we’ve already been aware of, but this time it comes straight from the source.
I know people backstab you, I felt bad too
But this ‘fuck everybody’ attitude ain’t natural
But you ain’t a Saint, this ain’t Kumbaya
But 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 in sane
Consider this another moment of clarity for JAY-Z, who effectively wipes the slate clean in a matter of minutes. Any preconceived notion formulated before spinning 4:44 is erased as JAY-Z reestablishes his voice. “Kill Jay Z” isn’t the final nail in Shawn Carter’s coffin. It’s his salvation.
4:44 is available to those who purchased a TIDAL subscription before June 26, 2017, as well as all current Sprint customers.