Opinion: 4:44 – Jay-Z’s First True Independent Album
By: DJ Rico Banks
4:44 is one of Jay-Z’s best albums to date! The production is stellar, lyrics are superb & the concept is fresh. His timing couldn’t have been better. This is the minimalist Jay-Z at his best.
We have seen Jay-Z live the life of a truly modest businessman & now family man following his hire as President of Def Jam Recordings. His clothes haven’t been as flashy, his cars haven’t been as extravagant & his jewelry accessories have also been replaced by a wife & kids. This has been a complete 360 from rock and roll lifestyle for Mr. Carter.
I awoke to a dream this morning. A dream that lead me to write this piece. I was about a man buying a corsage for his wife online. The corsage was to go on the dress she’s wearing to a formal event. This event would be attended by the husband & wife. The husband is a wealthy businessman & his assistants were teaching him an easy way to use the website because he wanted to design a corsage himself for his wife.
The website lists multiple colors & prices for the flowers. You can see the being inserted & subtracted on the virtual canvas. The husband was having a hard time deciding between the prices, colors & flowers. His design looked cluttered to him completed & he couldn’t tell which color & flower was which. The prices didn’t matter at this moment because the husband is wealthy. His love was driving him to complete this task. Growing frustrated, the husband decides to uncheck all the options available & design his corsage piece by piece.
He begins unchecking all the items until he is left to uncheck one last item before his canvas is completely clear. It’s one single peach colored flower left. The husband sees it & looks it over. He does this a few times before deciding this is the one! This is his wife’s corsage. This one peach colored flower.
This realization ended my dream & Jay-Z’s album cover was the first thing I thought about as I opened my eyes. 4:44 isn’t Jay-Z’s album response to Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” but it’s an album directly meant for himself. The album is a reminder to the old, new & future version of himself. It’s special to him & possibly the first album he’s put together completely hands on by himself & it took him 13 albums to do it.
The Finished Product
This is Jay-Z’s baby. His first album where he picked all the beats for production. He wrote all the lyrics, decided the team members & he put together the marketing plan. Also, he decided on the visuals & single release strategy, merchandising with tour strategies & yes, he even personally designed the albums cover & liner note details with credits. It even says it on the album cover.
“This is his 13th studio album.” This is his 13th album, but also his baby. 4:44 is independent album number one in Jay-Z’s mind & we’re all able to share this moment with him & I love it! We’re all witnessing a man progress in front of our eyes & it’s amazing. Yes, he is more simplistic & more of a minimalist these days, but only because this is a man that truly understands his worth & what is important to him in his life. This is awesomeness!!
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