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Review: Jay-Z Uses Society and Infidelity as Muses on 4:44

The king is back

Jay-Z can’t leave hip-hop alone.  The game needs him and he needs the game.  Thankfully he chooses to evolve with each turn.

With progression comes growing pains and he certainly suffered those throughout the bulk of his previous LP Magna Carta Holy Grail.

Reemerging from the other side of that experiment, the king of everything arrives with a lo-fi art project that peeks through its grey overtones.

444cvr4:44 does not have slick production values yet it bathes in the trinity of hip hop clichés: bragging, boasting and slick disses.

The opener “Kill Jay Z” addresses his state of his marriage to Beyoncé while pondering  life without his spouse.

He comes to the conclusion in the most savage way possible that he’s not going out like Future or more specifically Eric Benet.

Carter’s most compelling arguments revolve around social commentary that the black community must address from within.

“The Story of O.J.” hosts verses that should have been said some time ago by a breakthrough rapper.

The general public being what it is will most likely focus most of its attention of the album’s title track.

It’s the closest thing to a Lemonade response as this LP will provide. The soulful backdrop provides a mournful dose of sped-up samples that drag the man through the gutter.

The phrase “I apologize” rings out time and time again like a confession of the most shameful kind.  The biggest risk taken is the manner in which the narcotic poet talks semi-directly to his children.

Despite all of his loot and fame, he dreads the day when he’ll have to explain the apparent threesome that sent his life into a tailspin to his kids.

It’s a risky turn-of-events, but is it that surprising? Jay –Z has been prone to previous moments of clarity such as “Song Cry.”

The guests are limited to Frank Ocean, Damian Marley and Carter’s mother.  Jay-Z has always been at his most inspired when he takes matters into his own hands.

The verbal push and pull on “Moonlight” is Jay Z nearly succumbing to the flow of a mumble rapper.  There will be the young bloods that scream ‘old heads are stealing our style.’

In case of accident, please break glass and use the album’s sarcasm hammer.

Musically driven by the sonic general No I.D., 4:44 is a gut-wrenching journey through a plethora of inward and outward emotions.

When the final notes of “Legacy” trail off, a better understanding is had of who Jay-Z is today. While not a classic in the vein of his previous classics, 4:44 made good on its promise to stay personal, artistic and upfront about the issues that Roc Nation leader has taken on in other projects.

Rating: 4.5/5

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