4:44 is the thirteenth studio album by American rapper Jay-Z. It was released on June 30, 2017 through Roc Nation and Universal Music Group, as an exclusive to Sprint and Tidal customers. The album is the first in a planned series of music exclusives from the Sprint–Tidal partnership. For a short time, on July 2, the album was made available for free digital download in Tidal’s site. A physical edition was released on July 7, including three additional tracks. On the same day, the album was made available to other streaming platforms, such as Apple Music, Google Play Music and Amazon Music.
Like Jay-Z’s previous album, Magna Carta Holy Grail (2013), 4:44 was not preceded by any singles. The album was recorded from December 2016 to June 2017, and produced by No I.D. and Jay-Z. James Blake and Dominic Maker also produced the album’s bonus tracks. It features guest appearances from Frank Ocean, Damian Marley, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s mother, Gloria Carter. It also has additional vocal contributions from Blue Ivy Carter, James Fauntleroy, Kim Burrell and The-Dream.
The album received widespread acclaim from critics, who praised its emotional and personal content. On July 5, the album was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), in recognition of one million copies purchased by Sprint and offered to consumers as free downloads. It debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, making it Jay-Z’s 14th consecutive studio album to top the chart. The album spawned one single, the title track “4:44”.
Kill Jay-Z—-There is a remarkable familiarity when you listen to a new Jay-Z release. The beats are very familiar and almost predictable…it is how the word play is delivered that is remarkable. Jay sounds a bit angry….spitting verse after verse that makes you step back and think ‘Damn…He Mad’. This is nice…exactly what was needed.
The Story Of O.J.—-Giving us an intro that is piano laden and screwed, this is odd but undeniably infectious. Jay always speaks on things that are relevant and important. There is always a magical hook in the music that sucks you in and causes an instant addiction. The wordplay from Jay is remarkable..intelligent….somehow respectable and incredible necessary. For me this speaks to much of what is happening right NOW!
Smile [featuring Gloria Carter]—-New York rap beats are unique in themselves….Jay’s vocals are even more unique. This is a great story/rap…a song of acceptance and one that speaks on inclusion and love. Jay delivers a magical flow…and the hook of the song…from his Mom is irresistible…you can’t get this out of your head after you hear that magical hook. Sometimes the words come at you so fast…there is always an urgency to get the message out…I got it!
Caught Their Eyes [featuring Frank Ocean]—-Jaunty and damn fun at the intro, this has a remarkable reggae lean to it that makes me just sit and revel in the instrumentation. Jay always has a strong vocal delivery…but here it never seems to take away from the music that is addictive and hooky as all get out. This is fresh…new…predictable…but fantastic.
4:44—-This track….well, it wears on me after a bit…all the wailing going on. I could do without the histrionics. The backdrop of the song threatens to completely drown out the lyrics of the track that Jay delivers. Not a favorite….but many others love it.
Family Feud [featuring Be’yonce]—-It’s always a guaranteed masterpiece when you combine these two superstars together on one track. I know there is much discussion about the meaning of this song…but to me…it really is about how all of the lines feed together with the hook and the beat. This is brilliant…some of the lines from Jay are practically brilliant. This is a key part of the song for me….a true standout and centerpiece.
Bam [featuring Damian Marley]—-This is just brilliant….noisy and filled with so many sounds from so many different directions…all balanced by the steady vocal from Jay. It is remarkable…no matter the chaos going on in the track…the vocal sounds perfect. Marley delivers a built in hook that sucks your cerebellum out of your ear. This is perfect.
Moonlight—-Wow….muted and perfectly delivered…the sample running through the under belly of the song is almost pretty…but Jay sounds pissed and full of venom as the song continues. I love the vocal being RIGHT in your face…this is fantastic.
Marcy Me—-A bit brighter in sound, the reverb sound that runs through the underbelly of the song is irresistible. Jay comes with line after line of remarkable and perfectly constructed lyrics. If you really sit back and listen to the release, this shit will make you think and start to analyze. I love this….every listen reveals something new to me. And that fuckin’ hook…..OMG…..
Legacy—-Brilliant….Blue Ivy…Jay-Z….irresistible horns…remarkable lyric lines. An almost perfect song. This is a bit laden with the ‘Orleans’ sound for me…but the message is clear and the words all speak for themselves. Jay is afraid of nothing…unafraid to insult anyone….able to discuss anything…all in his style…it all becomes acceptable.
*****out of 5