NEW YORK — Hip-Hop mogul Jay-Z dropped his new album at 12:01 a.m. and the internet went wild.
#JAYZ444 and #444album are trending on social media.
A big reason for all the buzz – fans are speculating “4:44” is a direct response to his superstar wife Beyonce’s 2016 album “Lemonade” and Jay-Z is finally addressing rumors of cheating.
4:44 is the Bed-Stuy native’s first album in four years.
“This is very different than his previous works. You saw on (his last album) “Magna Carta Holy Grail” which came out in 2013 that it was Jay in swagger mode, he was still living the life of a total powerhouse hip-hop star and now this is so much more personal,” said Jason Lipshutz, Billboard Magazine music editor.
Jay-Z’s past works have been about his rise to the top and enjoying the riches of life. 4:44 is littered with intensely personal references to being a family man, his children with and his marriage to Beyonce.
“It’s the most introspective album he’s ever released and I think it is that way because he’s at a different point in his life than he’s ever been at,” adds Lipshutz.
In the titular track, he raps about shame, regret, disappointing his kids and appears to come clean about being unfaithful to Beyonce.
"I apologize often womanize / Took for my child to be born / See through a woman's eyes / Took for these natural twins to believe in miracles / Took me too long for this song / I don’t deserve you.”
It’s possibly a direct reference to his wife’s album Lemonade and who can forget the line from her song “Sorry” – “Only want me when I’m not there / You better call Becky with the good hair.”
“I think it’s a response of you were right I made mistakes, I need to apologize, I need to own up to these faults,” said Lipshutz.
Jay-Z says he considers the song “4:44” to be one of the best he’s ever written. He bares his soul, even bringing up the infamous elevator fight with sister-in-law Solange Knowles after the 2014 Met Ball. TMZ obtained surveillance video of Solange seemingly attacking Jay, during the height of rumors he was cheating on her sister.
In 4:44, Jay also talks about his acceptance of his mother as a lesbian.
“Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian / Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian,” Jay-Z raps in the song.
“The fact that he’s talking about it now he’s already been commended by GLAAD, which is great and Jay-Z’s a role model for so many people and he’s saying its ok my mom’s gay this is how I grew up,” said Lipshutz.
Another track on the album “Kill Jay Z” seems to reference a rift with Kanye West.
“Last year, Kanye called out Jay-Z and Beyonce and it was at the height of Kanye’s personal problems last year. I think Jay-Z’s lyric doesn’t necessarily aim at Kanye but he is acknowledging a rift between them. They were once close collaborators, now there definitely seems to be some tension. I don’t think there’s deep anger, but there’s some miscommunication and Jay is acknowledging that on the first track of the album,” said Lipshutz.
This afternoon, social media lit up once again when Jay-Z dropped a visual of the track “The Story of O.J.” The clip is a black and white animation showing old racist cartoons. It features an animated Nina Simone and other characters depicting horrible black stereotypes.
Right now, 4:44 is available exclusively to Sprint Wireless customers and to subscribers of Tidal, the streaming service Jay-Z is part owner of.
It’s been a memorable few weeks for Jay-Z. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, becoming the first rapper to do so. Then, Beyonce gave birth to the couple’s twins, who join 5-year-old daughter Blue Ivy.