After being caught cheating on his wife Beyonce along with using shady business practices, Jay-Z received tons of negative press from the world and, more importantly, his family. Amid the darkest period of his life, he used music to self reflect and heal his soul. In 2017, he would release 4:44, which served as a universal response and apology to his fans and loved ones for his inconsiderate actions. Today, we will be diving into this LP and unraveling what makes it so unique.
Jay-Z does the unthinkable as he puts his ego aside and picks himself apart for who he truly is. The album’s opener, “Kill Jay Z”, sets the tone for what’s to come. Sean Carter analyzes all of his faults, including his deteriorating mental health and, more specifically, shooting his own brother and backstabbing his close friends. The track ”The Story of O.J.” is a definite standout as Jay gives listeners advice on how to become wealthy by reciting his rags to riches story. The songs ”Smile” and ”Family Feud” are on the more personal side of things as they focus on Jay’s mother and wife, respectively. The best track on the album is the self-titled track, ”4:44”, which depicts the downfall and journey Jay is now on to be a true husband, father, and man. The tracks ”Marcy Me” and ”Legacy” close out the album highlighting the career and accomplishments of Hov. Overall, 4:44 has years worth of knowledge embedded into it.
Sonically, 4:44 thrives with its emotionally powerful minimalistic production. Mainly produced by No I.D., each song only utilizes a simple sample and drum pattern, which is looped for most of the song. While this seems tedious, it is incredibly useful as it gives Jay-Z the spotlight to flaunt his wisdom and lessons. Songs like ”Smile” and ”Caught Their Eyes” are prime examples of this. Other standout instrumentals include ”The Story of O.J.” and ”4:44”, which are intuitive and powerful. As a whole, 4:44’s beautiful production matches Jay-Z’s unforgettable performance.
In conclusion, Jay-Z’s 2017 LP 4:44 wasn’t just the best album of its respective year; it is one of the most essential albums of the last decade in its entirety. Being over 20 years into your career and being able to make something so life-changing has never been seen by a hip hop artist before this. The knowledge Jay preaches is priceless as it can be analyzed for ages, which makes 4:44 Jay’s magnum opus to me.