jay-z’s album features an apology to beyoncé and an ode to his gay mother
This article was originally published by i-D UK.
With the best musical relationship commentary since Frankee came back at Eamon's Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back) with F U Right Back in 2004, Jay-Z's new album 4:44 has landed. Beyoncé dragged his infidelities into the public eye with last year's Lemonade, and we've been left desperately waiting for some kind of explanation. Now, straight from the horse's mouth comes apology after apology, produced by No I.D.
With features from Frank Ocean, Damian Marley, Jay's mother Gloria Carter, and daughter Blue Ivy keeping tabs on her fortune by asking about his will; the record (his 13th) dropped last night exclusively on Tidal and might sit at just 36 minutes and 11 seconds, but Jay sure packs a lot into it. The record was named after the time he woke up at exactly 4:44 AM (we hope he made a wish) to write the title track, which he describes in an interview with iHeartRadio as "such a powerful song," and "one of the best songs I've ever written." The lyrics are clearly for Beyoncé. "I apologize, often womanize, took for my child to be born, see through a woman's eyes," he delivers. "Took for these natural twins to believe in miracles, took me too long for this song. I don't deserve you."
Jay-Z has pointed out, again, on iHeartRadio, that the second stand-out track, Kill Jay-Z, is "obviously… not to be taken literal. It's really about the ego. It's about killing off the ego, so we can have this conversation in a place of vulnerability and honesty." The track references egging Solange on (referring to liftgate), and Jay goes on to berate himself for almost letting "the baddest girl in the world get away." There's Lemonade chat too, as Jay warns that he'll "fuck up a good thing if you let me, leave me alone, Becky."
Smile is a whole other ballgame in which Jay more or less outs his beloved mother, Gloria, and accepts and embraces her sexuality. "Mama had four kids, but she's a lesbian," go the lyrics. "Had to pretend so long that she's a thespian. Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate. Society shame, and the pain was too much to take. Cried tears of joy when you fell in love. Don't matter to me if it's a him or her."
The album's strong closer is Family Feud, featuring none other than Beyoncé herself on the outro. "What's better than one billionaire?" he asks. Two, is the answer, obviously. Acceptance! Closure! Twin time! Tidal! Listen here.
Text Frankie Dunn