Near midnight on Thursday, Jay-Z — Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, partner to Beyoncé, father to Blue Ivy and two newborn twins — released his 13th studio album, titled 4:44. Taking a page out of his wife’s playbook, 4:44 is Jay’s most political and most personal work to date. In it, he offers his thoughts on African American identity and — much to the delight of the Beyhive — broaches the subject of marital infidelity. He basically owns up to all those Lemonade accusations (and no, he doesn’t unmask Becky with the good hair).
Like Lemonade, 4:44 is a story of redemption. Jay-Z is taking responsibility for his actions — not parading his conquests. Ahead, we break down some of the most heart-clenching moments from the new album.
In the title song — which Jay has called “the crux of the album” and “one of the best songs [he’s] ever written” — the rapper flat-out apologizes to Bey. “Look, I apologize / Often womanize / Took for my child to be born / See through a woman’s eyes / Took for these natural twins to believe in miracles / Took me too long for this song / I don’t deserve you,” he raps, later adding, “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.”
On that Solange elevator incident:
In “Kill Jay-Z,” the Tidal titan references that infamous post-Met Ball elevator incident: “You egged Solange on / Knowin’ all along, all you had to say you was wrong / You almost went Eric Benét / Let the baddest girl in the world get away.” (History lesson: R&B singer Eric Benét was once married to actress Halle Berry, before he cheated and she left.)
On Becky with the good hair:
In “Family Feud,” Jay casts aside “Becky with the good hair” (as in, “He only want me when I’m not there / He better call Becky with the good hair”). Whether “Becky” is code for Rachel Roy, Rita Ora or an amalgam of women, Jay-Z won’t be taking “her” calls anymore: “Yeah, I’ll fuck up a good thing if you let me / Let me alone Becky!”
Finally (and perhaps most devastatingly), Jay-Z reveals that Beyoncé suffered several miscarriages before conceiving the twins. He blames himself for her hardships: “I still mourn this death / I apologize for all the stillborns / ‘Cause I wasn’t present your body wouldn’t accept it.”
Thankfully, the Carter-Knowles family has moved past these hard times and is now a daughter, a son and several million dollars richer. We applaud Jay’s honesty and vulnerability. To quote the man himself: “You can’t heal what you never reveal.”
[ via Vogue UK ]