Jay-Z had the world clamoring to hear his new album 4:44, and now that its here, fans are taken aback by the brutal honesty that he’s displayed when discussing his relationship with wife Beyoncé.
It’s a response that fans have been waiting for since Beyoncé released her groundbreaking visual album Lemonade in 2016. On songs like “Sorry“, the singer strongly at Jay’s long-rumored infidelities, singling out one unidentified woman known as “Becky with the good hair.” Jay was relatively quiet in the aftermath of Lemonade‘s critical acclaim, and now, it seems, we’ve gotten his response.
At a concise 10 tracks, 4:44 is the shortest album of Jay’s career, and the lyrical clarity he exhibits compliments this. The typically casual rapper fesses up to the turmoil that he created in his marriage, rapping lines like “I apologize, often womanize / Took for my child to be born to see through a woman’s eyes,” on the title track. “And if my children knew, I don’t even know what I would do / If they ain’t look at me the same, I would prolly die with all the shame / You did what with who? What good is a ménage à trois when you have a soulmate, you risked that for Blue?”
When discussing the meaning of the song with iHeartMedia, Jay said that “4:44” was the “crux” of the album. “I woke up, literally, at 4:44 in the morning, 4:44 AM, to write this song,” he adds, “So it became the title of the album and everything. It’s the title track because it’s such a powerful song, and I just believe one of the best songs I’ve ever written.”
Jay also takes time to address the infamous “Becky with the good hair” line on the song “Family Feud.” He emotionally spits “Let me alone, Becky! / A man who don’t take care of his family can’t be rich.” Though she isn’t credited, Beyoncé contributes background vocals to the song and is listed as a co-writer.
Jay’s most playful, and perhaps most self-aware lyric comes on the opening song “Kill Jay Z.” Amidst his braggadocio, he tells himself “You almost went Eric Benét / Let the baddest girl in the world get away.” This is in reference to the R&B singer who was married to Halle Berry until his alleged infidelity resulted in divorce.
Fans are still wrapping their head around the simple fact that Jay admitted to his mistakes, but it seems like a positive step in their relationship, particularly with the birth of their twins earlier this month. On the album closer, “Legacy,” Jay seems to be at peace with his family lifestyle, rapping to his five-year old daughter Blue Ivy Carter (who appears on the song):
My stake in RocNation should go to you / Leave a peace for your siblings to give to their children too / My parents ain’t have sh*t so the shift started with me / My mom took her money, she bought me bonds / That was the sweetest thing of all time, uh.”
To hear “Legacy” and the rest of the songs on the album, you can either subscribe to Tidal or tune into iHeartRadio, who will be playing 4:44 on a loop today. For more information on these options, click the link below.