If you are looking for an objective analysis of Jay-Z’s album 4:44, you should probably stop reading now. I am sure there are plenty of blogs and articles that will criticize how he released his thirteenth album. Others will revile Jay-Z for not having any catchy singles or hook driven club bangers. Still others will link the album to that fateful fight in the elevator. Me, I focus on the artistry of music. I do not concern myself with gossip and other people’s business because, frankly, I don’t care. Life is way too hard and music is a coping mechanism for me. So that’s why I’m here.
As an artist, I love Jay-Z. His music has been a soundtrack to several points in my life. I partied to “Big Pimpin.” I wrote several college papers to “Lyrical Exercize.” I dressed to impress when “Excuse Me Miss” came on. So now that the dust has settled a bit, I have a few thoughts on his latest work. Like Jerry Springer used to contextualize all the chaos that transpired on his stage before the commercial break, I am here with some final thoughts on 4:44. This post is about two songs that I feel speak to the heart of what it means to be a man: the title track “4:44” and “Kill Jay-Z.”
In this song, Jay-Z has an honest conversation with his self (space intended). Jay-Z is the rapper, not the man. The man is Sean. He has to reconnect with Sean in order to be vulnerable enough to love his wife and children the way they deserve. The man on the inside has to reign in the man on the outside before they both loose it all. This Sean reveals all of Jay-Z’s most egregious mistakes including a dispute with Un, his mentor early in his career. He also discusses his altercation with Solange.
You egged Solange on
Knowin’ all along, all you had to say you was wrong
You almost went Eric Benét
The Eric Benét reference shows a parallel between Jay-Z and another man. Both men were unfaithful to their wives. Not just any wives. The type of wives that conventional wisdom assumes no man would cheat on and, yet, they did.
The take away for men is that vulnerability is essential for any relationship to work. Men are taught to be tough first. We scold young boys about crying, being too emotional, and acting like a girl. Yet, not showing your emotions as a man can hinder any meaningful romantic connection. Don’t go Eric Benét fellas!
The title track continues the emotional work of “Kill Jay-Z.” “4:44” is an open apology letter to his wife. Jay-Z called this song “the crux of the album.” Everything hinges on this song because it is about the most important relationship in his life. His marriage. There are several phrases that speak to the intimacies of marriage that I find so telling. As a married woman, there is an intimate understanding between a husband and wife that supersedes any other connection. It’s indescribable, but Jay-Z has a way of putting some words around it.
When he says “Please come back to Rome, you make it home,” he is referring to a wife’s ability to make any place home for her husband. Home is not the physical location or building. It is the aura that he feels when he enters the space that she inhabits. He can sense her presence even when she is not there. She completes him and he needs to recognize that.
The take away for men is that if you make a mistake, be man enough to Jay-Z apologize. You need to acknowledge where you fell short, how it affected the person you hurt, that person’s pain, and then make plans to amend it. The male ego often hinders sincere apology. They often slide by with “my bad.” And sometimes, “my bad” ain’t gone get it. He says the phrase “I apologize” seven times in this song, but still acknowledges that she may leave him.
The chorus of the song “I’m never gonna treat you like I should” means he will never be all that she deserves because she deserves better than his best. That is a mind-blowing assertion, yet that belief brings healing to their marriage. Their love is “one for the ages.”
Do you have a favorite Jay-Z song? What about those Jay-Z and Beyoncé collaborations? Comment below. As always, if you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and follow.
Next time, I’ll break down “The Story of O.J.” and “Legacy” from 4:44.