Listen Once: Jay-Z 4:44 Album Review
This is the inaugural post for Trifecta Entertainment. I used to do a one listen album review series back in early 2016 so this feels like a relevant album for me to review. Just a disclaimer, Jay-Z is one of my all-time favorites and the Black Album got me into hip-hop.
As you can already gather, this is a bit different than a sports post that I normally write. These will be from a highly opinionated angle.
With 4:44 now out on Apple Music the masses now have access to it. Not on Spotify yet but neither is his catalog.
Here we go, solid start here for Hov. Jay talking about Jay in the third person sounds a little like Kanye on Love Kanye from TLOP.
He references West here a lot and talks about how Kanye slandered him on stage.
A short track to start here from Hov. Digged it though, not a bad start.
The Story of OJ
Hearing a lot of hype around this track. A music video was released, saw part of it so this is more of a second listen for me. Good sampling in the back and a decent flow. Great fell about this track.
Big racial backing on this track with finances taking a center tone. Good drum usage, Bad and Boujee reference in there too. Did he just take a shot at 50 Cent? Talked about money on Instagram.
He also references Bill Maher who dropped the n-word on TV.
“House (expletive), don’t (expletive) with me / I’m a field (expletive) with shined cutlery,”
Not really about OJ Simpson, only one line about him.
Probably the best track on the album.
Smile featuring Gloria Carter
Gospel kind of chorus to start. Good production quality and flow throughout. A good track, but doesn’t follow up The Story of OJ properly.
Caught Their Eyes featuring Frank Ocean
Big fan of Ocean. Hov used a sample from Shining with Khaled, quick but it is in there.
The track doesn’t do Frank Ocean justice. Feels like an out of place track. Not the best look for Hov.
He does reference Prince and what happened between his estate and Tidal.
I sat down with Prince, eye to eye / He told me his wishes before he died / Now, Londell McMillan, he must be color blind / They only see green from them purple eyes.”
Before Prince died, he made a deal with TIDAL. After his death, McMillan, serving as the adviser to the late singer’s estate, granted other streaming services like Apple and Spotify access to Prince’s catalog.
Guessing this is supposed to be the focal point of the album given the title. This album doesn’t feel like a Lemonade response. But this track does talk about Jay apologizing.
Gospel feel continues throughout. Big fan of it on this track. Not the best track on the album, but it does feel like the focal point. Job accomplished here continuing to tie the album together.
Family Feud featuring Beyonce
Beyonce featured on the track. Classic Hov talking to start about volume levels and including it. Beat fits Jay perfectly, almost would prefer the Beyonce vocal gone and just hear him spit on the beat.
He referenced Becky with the Good hair on this track, sort of a Lemonade response. He also mentions Bill Cosby as Pill Cosby and Al Sharpton.
“Al Sharpton in the mirror takin’ selfies / How is him or Pill Cosby supposed to help me?”
Bam featuring Damien Marley
Very solid opening here by Hov, big fan of the beat paired with the Reggae theme to this track. So far this is my second favorite track on the album.
Talks about running the world, and about those who fake it.
Fan of the way this track is opening.He wanted Moonlight to win the Oscar but La La Land won instead. A bit of an odd track for him to throw in here considering it feels like his legacy album.
Reminiscing here from Hov talks about Hamilton and quotes a line from the Broadway show. Big fan of the way it is brought together.
Talks about how Brooklyn has changed over the years.
Uses his child’s voice at the start. Talks about his will and how he wants to split it with his family. He talks about his legacy and how things have changed over the years and his heritage.
This is Jay’s legacy album, one where he wants to set the record straight and be remembered by. This is Hov’s gospel.
Has the feeling of his final solo work.
Feel like Jay=Z’s lyrics were drowned out the entire time, levels felt off from bottom to top.But this track wasn’t meant to be a commercial success. It was meant to be his final album.
It has some solid tracks here and there and does its job. For Jay-Z fans this is a must listen, but for those of you who aren’t Hov fans, listen to The Story of OJ, by far the best track from bottom to top.