I. Am. Back! I gin write articles! So what!
So I took a kind of undeserved break from writing my reviews. One thing just happened after the other: the stressful planning of the very successful kooler experience, Valhalla, to me FINALLY winning the Stoli Most Original DJ Competiton, updating my bio, then it was quickly my birthday.
But now that the Crop Over festival is in full swing, it’s time for me to let the people know what my top five Crop Over songs of 2017 are. And starting at number 5 w- who am I kidding? I’m sure you already read the title. You know what this is about.
Jay-Z the Jigga Man dropped a whole album (albeit a short one) and it’s taking the world by storm…and I mean it. In the respect of time, I’m going to give an overall look at the album instead of listing individual songs. This album caught me off guard. Not just because of the zero promotion leading up to it, but for two main reasons: the tone of the album and the messages throughout.
Some parts of 4:44 are rather personal. Jay even replies to Beyonce’s controversial album Lemonade. While this isn’t major for the average celebrity couple, coming from Jay and Beyonce, it’s a big deal. They’re the most private celebrity couple. I mean I don’t go searching for celebrity gossip, but the majority of it still slips into mainstream media. I know nothing of the Carter-Knowles family, except that they’re talented and ballin’.
Jay-Z admitted to his audience that he really did commit adultery, even having a random threesome. He say that he wonders what Blue will think when she reaches an age at which she can understand the gravity of her father’s actions. He also makes reference to his fight in the elevator with Solange Knowles, years after remaining silent.
In true hip-hop fashion and true to his brand, he took various stabs at rappers like Future, for example, essentially telling him to take care of his kid (ouch!). He also took several swings at Kanye, which I know must have burnt the egotistical Grammy Award winner. In one of my favorite lines from the second track -“The Story of OJ” – he states that disconnect line, referencing rappers and entertainers who post on the internet with stacks of money to their heads.
Which leads me into the second reason this album caught me off guard.
This album is so heavy in comparison to the rap game of late. Even compared to other Jay-Z albums. The production of the beats seems to strategically force the listener to focus on what he’s saying instead of being catchy to capture an audience. And those lyrics are nothing but fire and truth.
On the same track “The Story of OJ”, Jay-Z draws reference to the fact that black people, despite how they feel about themselves, are all black people. Also stating that we should invest our money and spend it wisely. Something almost unheard of in rap music. He even seems to be of the belief that this album will make him the first billionaire rapper. A competition he’s in with Diddy and Dr. Dre.
I wasn’t a big fan of the beats on the album, but I did really, thoroughly enjoy the track “Bam” featuring Damien Marley.
The closest thing I have to a gripe with the album is the fact that I literally had Rap Genius open to follow the songs. It felt like so much was going over my head. Not any fault of Jay-Z of course, but just my own ignorance of certain topics.
This review also would not be complete without me mentioning the flames that is Blue Ivy’s flow! Sweet girl could ride a riddim! Girl said she never saw a ceiling in her whole life. What is a ceiling? Something you peasants touch when you outstretch your hands? Something that holds back you lames when you go too high? Li’l Blue wants know what that is. The aptly named “Blue Ivy’s Freestyle” is such a delight it’s only available on the deluxe edition and if you listen to any bonus tracks make sure you listen to this.
To conclude I’ll have to rate this album a “go listen when you have the time to appreciate it’s artistic direction” out of 5.
If you’re looking for something poppy? Look elsewhere. This isn’t that.