Women with Soul, women worth gold
Wrong men taken for soulmates, scary scenario getting old
Lies, and cries, when real men apologize, their wrongs they wanna right
So to the wife of their life, they write; a way to give them (poetic) justice.
4:44, 5th track, placed at the core of this 13th studio album, is not only the most emotional song from this new Jay Z’ opus, but one of the most emotional from all the songs he’s ever written.
Critically acclaimed as the piece of a grown and mature man, 4:44 shows a man who killed his ego (Kill Jay Z) and writes his wrongs, in the hope to get right.
4:44 is a new Jay Z’ narration about relationships.
“A relationship is a relationship that has to be earned”.
From Crazy In Love, to Drunk In Love with his wife Beyoncé, Jay Z questions again the meaning of purpose of “Falling in love” with the introduction of the video.
There is a common point between Jay Z’ tracks related with love, infatuation and relationship:
This is that mourn of a woman with powerful gospel-like vocals, soulfully in love. You can hear in Girls, Girls, Girls, Song Cry and now 4:44, as a few examples.
Another common point between Song Cry and 4:44 is the complexity of the production.
The man Shawn Carter has pictured with poetry almost every kind of relationships a man can go through his songs:
1) Look, I apologize, often womanize (4:44)
With a womanizer, you can only trust the lust. Big Pimpin is the most explicit example of how Jay Z would describe a man collectionning women for sex.
Girls, Girls, Girls is another one hit, quite comical, giving the portraits of all the women Jay has had in his life in the whole world.
The more you can enumerate girls, the more it gets flattering for the rapper’s ego.
Shit, I’m a man with pride, you don’t do shit like that (Song Cry)
I said: “Don’t embarrass me,” instead of “Be mine” (4:44)
I was just fuckin’ them girls, I was gon’ get right back (Song Cry)
I apologize to all the women whom I toyed with your emotions
‘Cause I was emotionless (4:44)
2) So I apologize I seen the innocence leave your eyes I still mourn this death (4:44)
We’re witnessing a man with who’s gotta live and learn with regrets and who’s showing repentence with an act of maturity.
They say you can’t turn a bad girl good
But once a good girl’s gone bad, she’s gone forever
I’ll mourn forever
Shit, I’ve got to live with the fact I did you wrong forever (Song Cry)
We talked for hours when you were on tour
“Please pick up the phone, pick up the phone!” (4:44)
4) The failure of his father figure
The father figure is a lifelong topic in Jay Z’ music, since he’s lost his dad, used to feel hate and anger for him until he learned to respect him despite everything and consider other perspectives.
Now in this song, he’s addressing the failure of father figure to himself, which he promised to himself not to repeat though.
And if my children knew
I don’t even know what I would do
If they ain’t look at me the same
I would prob’ly die with all the shame
“You did what with who?”
“I can’t see’em coming down in my eyes, so I gotta let the Song Cry“
“I promised I cried I couldn’t hold it”(4:44)
Finally, the music video for this piece, is not only beautiful, with its choreography and its tragic tone , but it is also very clever, one of his most genius work.
As the main track of the album, it sums up some of the main topics in the album.
The video made with clips from existent viral content exposes a reflection of the mainstream Black Entertainment culture and emphasize the ideas talked along The Story Of O.J..
Besides, the young boy singing Nina Simone’s song recalls the sample of Nina’s Four Women in The Story Of O.J., which deals with this entertainment culture and with racism in America.
Opening up a bracket, the album, with this socially charged track, also deals with the difference between rich and wealthy, between remaining slave of a system, or rising independently.
Financial freedom my only hope
Fuck livin’ rich and dyin’ broke
These lyrics resonate with the lines in No Hook:
Fuck rich, let’s get wealthy, who else gon feed we?
This philosophy applies both in finances and in the music industry. A philosophy shared by Chance The Rapper, shining as an independent artists, who declined record deals with labels.