One of my favorite Jay-Z songs is “Soon You’ll Understand” from his 2000 album The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (I even named my debut album after it). The reason I was drawn to it was the three stories Jay told throughout the song about his denying a relationship with his best friend’s sister, how a different relationship isn’t working with his “baby mother”, and finishes with a jailhouse letter to Gloria Carter.
Any time Jay lowers his defenses and lets the listener in, whether it’s a true story or a fabricated one, I’m here for it. So when I arrived at the title track of his 13th solo studio album 4:44, I was floored. Ever since Lemonade, rumors ran rampant about whether Hov would acknowledge Beyonce’s accusations.
Serving as an open letter to his wife, Jay-Z bears his soul like never before as he apologizes for all his wrongdoing. Backed up a soulful No ID soundscape that doesn’t allow him to hide, Hov goes so in-depth that he mentions his stillborns and his three young children.
Watching him perform this hurts me. I could only watch his Saturday Night Live rendition once. The fact that he performs “4:44” every night on his tour just shows that he’s a man who has embraced his mistakes and not ready to repeat them. Wow.