4:44

by JAY-Z

Released June 30, 2017 via Roc Nation

Reviewed June 30, 2022

Top tracks (based on community voting)
4:44 (70%), The Story of OJ (68%), Marcy Me (38%)

After the release of Magna Carta Holy Grail, many felt that was it for Jay-Z. He’d keep making albums, but after a four album stretch where three of those albums were Kingdom Come, Magna Carta, and Blueprint 3, it seemed all but confirmed that he didn’t have much to say anymore. At 12 studio albums and a solidified status as one of the GOATs, there was nothing wrong with calling it a day and phoning it in. But on 4:44, Jay-Z proved he wasn’t just any old legacy act; his reputation as one of the greatest ever is solidified for a reason. He evolved where many of his peers couldn’t, giving his audience a complex, introspective look into who he is, stripping away his Jay-Z persona to give us a glimpse of Shawn Carter. But the biggest reason it seemed like such a breath of fresh air is the fact that he was so willing to talk about things he’d never rapped about before: his infidelity, his regrets, acceptance of his mother’s sexuality, and more. However, No ID’s involvement is unfairly overshadowed by Jay’s renaissance of sorts. The sample-laden, soulful production—including the title track, which is arguably the greatest beat ever made—fits Jay better than a lot of the production he’d rapped over in previous years (most notably, the more trap-inspired beats he’d experimented with throughout the decade). All these creative changes being made to his output, ultimately, were a marvelous idea to remind us all of who Jay-Z really is. Even if 4:44 was his goodbye, it was a damn good send off. – Alan (9/10)

Jay Z’s 4:44 is one of his most personal and mature projects to date and a return to form for one of hip-hop’s greats. With phenomenal production from longtime collaborator No I.D., this album distinguishes itself by relying on soul samples rather than 808’s to get its sound across. Look no further than the title track to see how beautifully this method pays off. On “4:44,” a woman wails in the background, a haunting sound of heartbreak, while Jay opens up about his infidelity that Beyoncé hinted at on her album Lemonade. You can feel the pain and hurt he has caused, resulting in a masterpiece of a track that may be one of Hov’s best.

4:44 doesn’t sound like the Jay Z we’ve come to expect these past few years and the album is all the greater because of it. For years, Hov didn’t seem to know how to do anything but luxury raps anymore, but thankfully that isn’t the case here. On this project, Jay is mature and thoughtful while reflecting on his life and the mistakes he made. This is dad rap at its finest and nothing is off limits. Whether it's his failures as a husband, his mother coming out, or the will he is leaving his daughter, Jay covers it all.

You won’t find any bangers on this project and there are only a few features, including Frank Ocean, Damian Marley, and Jay’s mom Gloria Carter, so none of these tracks seem like they are made to be hits. However, I don’t think Jay cared about charting with 4:44. With this being his 13th solo album, Jay Z has made enough commercial records. This one's for him. – Daniel (8.5/10)


Alan: 9/10 | Ben (Synth): 9/10 | DeVán: 9/10 | Dominick: 8.5/10 | Hadley: 8.5/10

Jared: 8.5/10 | Daniel: 8.5/10 | Pax: 8.2/10 | Cam: 8/10 | Pablo: 7/10

 
Community Reviews:

Jay-Z gives us his most honest and brutal look into his life yet. Clean and concise, each song reflects a different feeling jigga carries with him everyday - egoism, lust, vulnerability, the want for those he loves to be happy among others. This isn’t the husting, dollar blowing man we were introduced to. This is a man broken to his core by the world around him and his personal demons of his mistakes. Through artistic maturity and integrity, Shawn channels these feelings with no filter through somewhat hazy, often broken, beat selection, vivid lavish imagery and relatable world play that paints a picture of his life and what he must do to better himself and society around him. – @frank_zygm (8/10)