4:44 exemplifies the maturity of Jay-Z

Vincent Kuai, Staff Writer

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The 60th annual Grammy was on the 28th of January and one nomination that particularly caught my interest was Jay-Z’s 4:44.

Before I begin this review, I would like to state that my knowledge of Jay-Z’s previous work is mostly just Blueprint from 2001 which I still worship like a Christian to a Bible. Despite my limited knowledge of Jay-Z’s previous work, I was still able to understand most of the references made in 4:44.

In short, 4:44 is a thought provoking and mature album by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter. This is exemplified by the sound, content, and design of the album.

In terms of sound, the album doesn’t have much grand, anthemic sounds that Jay-Z is most known for. However, it does have more of an introspective sound. Most of the instrumentals and sounds are used to support Jay-Z’s vocals. The voice of Jay-Z, most notable in the title track “4:44”, sounds as if he is struggling through emotional stress and pain that is revealed in the lyrics.

In ten tracks, Jay-Z reveals his personal life in his lyrics that begins with him stripping away his ego and personality in the beginning track “Kill Jay-Z.” His urges to maintain a successful legacy for his kids then becomes most evident in the album. In songs such as “Legacy” and “4:44” he gives a grown message about how he would be remembered by his family. Jay-Z states in regard to his infidelity, “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 prob’ly die with all the shame.” Another notable track is “The Story of O.J.” where Jay-Z gives financial advice as he states, “You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America?” This is an interesting(true?) statement made by Jay-Z and a funny one to think about. All the tracks on 4:44 have this mature, fatherly perspective about wanting people to improve their lifestyles in meaningful and lasting ways.

One thing that I particularly like about the album is the design of the CD. As a side note, one of the only ways to listen to the album is either through the few songs on YouTube, Tidal, or by purchasing the album. I purchased the album. The album cover is sparse and also there is no track list anywhere within the album; this is interesting as it shows how secretive the album is and difficult this album would have been to make for someone like Jay-Z to lower his ego. Also, the YouTube videos of the tracks have this insane movie like production quality to them that make them spectacular to watch.

To conclude, I don’t think this album is the type the go down in history as another head-bobbing classic for hip-hop. I do believe that this album best exemplifies the maturity and introspectiveness that hip-hop has and can have — as this album is more of a representation of Shawn Carter than it is of Jay-Z.

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4:44 exemplifies the maturity of Jay-Z