Will 4:44 Change The Rap Game?

JAY-Z dropped his new album “4:44” over a week ago, the album has been a hit with fans, fellow hip-hop artists, and the media. “4:44” represents a coming of age story for Jigga, in the album he touches on his infidelity, wealth for the black community, and the state of the game. Many people wondered what would Jay have to say, he is one of the richest rappers in the game. So what could he say in this album that would change the game? The big question after 4:44 is will this album change the rap game?

The most anticipated thing that fans and media members were hoping to get from Jay’s album, was his response to Beyonce’s Lemonade. Jay delivered that, he came clean about his cheating. In the title track “4:44”, Jay talks about how he did not want another man raising his kid. This was about rapper Future’s relationship with Ciara. Future ended the relationship with Ciara and now Ciara married Russell Wilson, and Wilson is raising Future’s baby.

JAY-Z talked about his fear of Beyonce leaving him, without ever addressing her in the album. He also talked about Halle Berry’s second husband, singer Eric Benet, and how he never wants to be Benet. By using these examples, Jigga was acknowledging his mistakes, by juxtaposing his position with these other men.  This is an album topic that a “Magna Carta Holy Grail.” Jay-Z would not have addressed.

In “4:44,” JAY-Z also talked about the rap-culture. In “The Story of OJ.” Jay uses one of OJ’s famous quotes, “I’m not black, I’m OJ.” Jigga uses this and old stereotypes of black people to show that no matter how much money an artists makes, they will always be black. This maybe personal for Jay, who touched on him missing an opportunity to buy a building in Brooklyn, that is now worth 8 million dollars.  This is not only Jay touching on his wealth, but as a black man how he and other rappers have played into the minstrel show of the rap industry. In 2017, the rap game is more about talking about wealth that most of these rappers do not have and preaching about spending money. Instead, of saving it and investing it in the black community.

This album was not only Jay-Z’s response to Beyonce’s Lemonade, but it was also the oldest rapper in the game, holding a mirror to the larger hip-hop community and saying do something that uplifts the community. A lot of people were wrong to say, JAY had nothing to say in this album, this maybe one of the most socially impactful albums, since Kendrick Lamar’s Damn. Ultimately, will this have an impact on the rap game, and will Jay’s words bring on a cultural and more woke awakening in rap. We will have to wait and see. If nothing else comes from 4:44 at least rappers know, fans have an appetite for some realistic and culturally encouraging music.

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