JAY-Z '4:44' Drops

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Highly-anticipated and long overdue, we have the 13th studio album from the man, the myth, the mogul himself: JAY-Z. Amidst business deals with Sprint, name re-hyfenations and the ongoing silence of frequent collaborator and recent beef-instigator Kanye West, the roll-out of this album commenced. Esoteric, mysterious and cryptic are all words I've seen/used to describe the announcement of JAY-Z's 13th studio album. 

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4:44 is important.

Despite the fact that JAY had fans "scrambling" to secure their 5th free Tidal subscription, I sat back comfortably knowing that not only would my TIDAL membership continue to bless my life, but I might get more out of it than I bargained for. Since joining the platform at it's inception, the quality of my life has improved in so many ways. 

 people trying to get into the  4:44  listening party in DC

people trying to get into the 4:44 listening party in DC

So when I heard there would be a listening party at a local-to-me Sprint store, I signed up.

I arrived earlier than I normally would and to my mentally prepared astonishment, the line was down the block. You know I try my best to finesse, but it was - almost - to no avail. I finally go in after the album began playing, so needless to say I was distracted, thirsty, hot and unable to really listen at the listening party. I got some cute pictures and videos for The Gram, and I left so that I could bump it in my car. In the following 36 hours, I've probably listened to it a good 10-12 times.

 inside the  4:44  listening party in Washington, DC

inside the 4:44 listening party in Washington, DC

 Michelle Sasha and Lauryn Gill at the  4:44  listening party in Washington, DC

Michelle Sasha and Lauryn Gill at the 4:44 listening party in Washington, DC

Executive produced by No I.D., instead of giving us a bag of hits like some may have wanted, JAY dropped a duffle bag of knowledge that we ALL need.

Generational wealth, investments, black pride, supporting black business, revealing vulnerability and snapping on everybody fake flexing on The Gram are all analyzed in rhyme on 4:44. I probably won't pick a favorite any time soon, but I'm really feeling "Kill Jay Z" (notice the name change), "Smile" (thank you Stevie for the sample), "The Story of OJ" (okay?), and "Bam" (respect to Damian "Junior Gong" Marley and our Jamaican roots, mi bredah).  

With all that said, I can't help to feel slightly broken hearted that I saw an important theme coming: "La Familia" is not getting back together.

I've written about the breakdown of one of hip-hop's most influential bromances before, but I still held out hope. "But if everybody's crazy, you're the one that's insane" hit me hard. It's a truth that many don't like to face. The victim mentality is pervasive in our society, and, more so, almost impossible to combat. He goes in even more in a way that only JAY can do, but head to Twitter for more quotes and hypothesis. At this point, we can only reminisce about the good ole days.

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I totally respect JAY-Z's ability to be extremely forthcoming about his formerly alleged infidelities (on the track "4:44"). If more husbands could be as willing to admit their mistakes, perhaps more unions could have been saved. I'm not foolish to think that this is the first time he's "apologizing" to Beyoncé about this, but it helps us as fans who didn't really know whether Lemonade was a piece of art based on someone else's life or, in fact, a reality. For a while, I thought that she as an artist was using this narrative to relate to her listeners, and I almost lost hope in the idea that art is a true reflection of the person's experience. JAY cleared this up for me. Thanks.

I'll likely get more deep about this on the new platform I've been working with. I realize that it's been nearly a month since I've posted here, but I've been learning how to balance all the new opportunities I have come into over the past two months. Please do me a favor and head to CultureFeed.co. The team is solid, and I've taken on the role as Managing Editor and writer on the fly.