Is Jay-Z’s visual album/project 4:44 his ‘answer’ to Beyonce’s Lemonade?

Celebrities watch during the Saint-Germain vs Barcelona match

Jay-Z has been teasing his new album, 4:44, for a month now. No one really knew what it was going to be, whether it would just be a straight-up album, or whether it would be a Lemonade-style visual journey through the heart and mind of Jay-Z, complete with cameos from Bey, Yeezy and, like, the 44th president, Barry Obama. Well, 4:44 dropped on Tidal last night. It’s a 10-track album and a “visual project.” Only Tidal subscribers have gotten to listen to it, and you had to subscribe to Tidal BEFORE the album drop to actually listen to it. That’s part of Jay’s $200 million deal with Tidal/Sprint. But many believe that after the one-week exclusivity contract is up, Jay will put 4:44 on iTunes.

Thankfully, a lot of music critics already pay for Tidal, so we know what’s on it. The album features work from “Beyoncé, Blue Ivy Carter, Frank Ocean, Jay-Z’s mom Gloria Carter, The-Dream, Damian Marley, and Kim Burrell.” The visual project has appearances by “Lupita Nyong’o, Mahershala Ali, Danny Glover, and more is expected to come with the album.”

People are calling this Jay-Z’s Lemonade, or his response to his wife’s iconic visual album. For my money, Lemonade is Lemonade and no one else can replicate or “answer” that stunning work. But Jay is trying, perhaps, to make 4:44 the companion piece, his side of the story, and his admission that he fooled around and disrespected his wife. And much like the conclusion of Lemonade, the answer is forgiveness and peace. NY Mag did a side-by-side of Lemonade lines to 4:44 lines:

“Hold Up”: “Never had the baddest woman in the game up in your sheets”
“Kill Jay Z”: “You almost went Eric Benét / Let the baddest girl in the world get away”

“Pray You Catch Me”: “You can taste the dishonesty / It’s all over your breath as you pass it off so cavalier”
“Kill JAY-Z”: “You egged Solange on / Knowin’ all along, all you had to say you was wrong”

“Sorry”: He always got them f–king excuses / I pray to the Lord you reveal what his truth is / I left a note in the hallway / By the time you read it, I’ll be far away”
“4:44”: “I suck at love, I think I need a do-over / I will be emotionally available if I invited you over / I stew over what if you over my sh-t?”

“Sorry”: “Me and my baby, we gon’ be alright / We gon’ live a good life”
“4:44”: “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 prolly die with all the shame”

“Forward”: “Go back to your sleep in your favorite spot just next to me”
“4:44”: “And all this ratchet sh-t and we more expansive not / Meant to cry and die alone in these mansions / Or sleep with our back turned”

“Sorry”: “He only want me when I’m not there / He better call Becky with the good hair”
“Family Feud”: “Yeah, I’ll f–k up a good thing if you let me / Let me alone Becky!”

“Sorry”: “Now you want to say you’re sorry / Now you want to call me crying”
“4:44”: “We talked for hours when you were on tour / Please pick up the phone, pick up the phone”

[From Vulture]

“You egged Solange on / Knowin’ all along, all you had to say you was wrong.” OH. MY. GOD. How many years later is this? Jay-Z is still have feelings about Solange and the Met Gala elevator. I mean, obviously, he would still have feelings about it – his sister-in-law tried to beat the sh-t out of him in an elevator. But the phrasing there… what, does he think that Bey teed up her sister and that Beyonce wouldn’t admit that she was in the wrong?!? So much to analyze.

Not content with that, Jay also had some sh-t to say about Kanye West (OH NO THIS WILL NOT END WELL).

“Kill Jay Z”: “I know people backstab you, I felt that too/But this f–k everybody attitude ain’t natural/But you ain’t the same, this ain’t Kumba ‘Ye/But you got hurt because you did cool by ‘Ye/You give him $20 million without blinking/he gave you 20 minutes on stage, f–k what was he thinking?/’F–k wrong with everybody?’ is what you saying/But if everyone is crazy, you’re the one that’s insane.”

Kanye’s “30 Hours”: “I hit the gym, all chest no legs.”
“Bam”: “Uh, n–gas is skippin’ leg day just to run they mouth.”

[From Vulture]

That seems like sort of a low blow considering Kanye really does have mental health problems, which he talks about and includes in his music. Anyway… will 4:44 really be considered the new Lemonade? Yeah, we’ll see.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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78 Responses to “Is Jay-Z’s visual album/project 4:44 his ‘answer’ to Beyonce’s Lemonade?”

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  1. GiBee says:

    God. I never understand how he’s so famous, has sold so many albums, etc. His lyrics are so embarassingly tragic. It’s like an illiterate ESL student’s magnetic poetry.

    • V4Real says:

      It’s called rap. When you read the lyrics they can seem a bit stupid but once you hear them rapped by the artist it sounds good because the artist knows how to make the lyrics flow .

      The same can be said for a lot of song lyrics.

    • Ramona says:

      All lyrics look silly written rather than perfomed. That said, Jay Zs success was built on his skill as a lyricist. One line can have two or three parallel meanings and its quite something when you listen to a song for months and suddenly discover a new layer of meaning. He is the king of double entendres. He does puns exceptionally well too.

      But dont take it from me. Heres an English professor explaining 50 of his favorite Jay Z lyrics. http://www.complex.com/music/2012/10/jay-z-50-best-double-entendres/

      • Wilma says:

        Yes, I love listening to Jay-Z while cycling to work, I often laugh out loud when I get a pun or double entendre because he’s so clever in his lyrics and it takes me a couple of listens to get everything.

    • Babs says:

      Jay-Z is a brilliant rapper and lyricist.

    • HadToChangeMyName says:

      Good thing you don’t have to. You don’t like it, keep it moving. There are plenty of people who do understand what he’s saying.

    • Nev says:

      Alright then…

    • CityGirl says:

      HadToChangeMyName & Nev & Babs & Ramona & V4Real: +1000000000000000000!

      Thank you for responding to that in much better ways than I was going to. I am trying so very hard to speak with only positivity these days….and it’s so very hard

    • KatieBo says:

      Jay-z is a really incredible lyricist. The albums as a whole have a really incredible story- the songs weave together but are able to stand on their own. A friend of mine got me into hip hop with The Black Album. You may not like him or hip hop, but if you understand it you can’t deny that he’s f***ing brilliant at what he does.

    • Talor says:

      I never understood why they were together. Did she need him to get famous? She’s so talented and utterly gorgeous and he looks like a bridge goblin. I know I’m a vain jerk but I hope those babies look like her.

      • Babs says:

        Jay-Z is very clever and wise, crazy talented, charming and funny. Not everyone likes pretty boys.

  2. Loopy says:

    Maybe he did cheat or maybe he didn’t? But no doubt these people are shrewd and probably come up with this creatively together…apparently they have made zillions in these cheating rumours. Lemonade and the response to it was probably in a marketing/pr/a&r meeting years ago.

    • Gugu says:

      I honestly think the whole thing is just for publicity. Get the fanatics talking about the ‘problems’ in their marriage while buying their music.

      I find it concerning that some people are still saying Solange was right hitting him

    • whisper says:

      *deleted*

  3. Jeesie says:

    Because we all know the best way to make sure your kids don’t find out your dirty laundry is to rap about it on your new album, right?

    • Des says:

      I see what you’re saying (it was my first thought too) but he’s saying if they’d broken up and the whole thing just became a cycle in the gossip mags, he couldn’t have borne it. This way, they see he stepped up and took responsibility and Bey and he worked it out (and made some great art in the process).

      It’s not hard to see things in context.

  4. Louise says:

    He’s 48 this year. Time to ditch the baseball hats.

  5. V4Real says:

    Of course it’s the answer to Lemonade. This was a part of their business. They planned this together to sell albums . Do people really believe that JAY didn’t know about the songs on Bey”s album. He probably helped her with it. What had me laughing were the naive fans who said Bey was pouring her heart out because JAY cheated on her, as if Bey didn’t know all along about JAY”s sidepieces. They are not just married, they are business partners who planned this together. The only song I liked off Lemonade was Daddy Lessons. I didn’t see the hype about her songs. Different doesn’t always mean good. And she stole the concept of some of her visuals from other artists and didn’t give them credit.

    • Ramona says:

      To each her own. I loved all of it but my favs are Six Inch Heels and All Night Long. That video of father and daughter playing football on the Super Bowl pitch the night before the big game just makes me tear up. I miss my dad.

      I genuinely doubt people in the industry have the same expectations of monogamy as ordinary folk. And thats gleaned from decades of reading autobiographies from the golden age of Hollywood. If monogamy wasnt expected then, I doubt it is now. But I do believe that there are rules around it. Like you must be discreet and not embarass the other. You must not have a steady girl, they should be disposable. It must not be a social peer. You must not flaunt it in your spouses face. Et cetera. I think thats where the betrayal lay. It was a steady mistress who moved in the same circles and they were indiscreet at Met Ball. The Solange beat down wasnt staged, so there definitely were bts rumblings between them. I think that confirms the theory.

      • HadToChangeMyName says:

        I love “sorry” and “all night long.” The whole album was brilliant, really. The most cogent and raw of Beyonce’s work, in my opinion.

      • Babs says:

        Loved all of it too. My favorites are Don’t Hurt yourself, All night and Love drought.

  6. Jten says:

    I read that Solange line as an admission. Like talking to himself but haven’t heard it yet. Don’t think there’s any doubt he played up.

    • osito says:

      Yes! I just commented on this, but you beat me to it!

    • Rose says:

      I read it that way too, like he was egging her on even though he was in the wrong

    • HadToChangeMyName says:

      Agreed. He’s switching from first person to second and third person. It’s all him.

    • LaBlah says:

      Me too, especially as it sits in a song that’s entirely self criticism.

    • CityGirl says:

      Me too Jten

    • Miss b says:

      You’re right, in the lines about solange he’s talking to and about himself. The next line is “almost pulled an Eric Benet/let the baddest girl in the world get away”. He’s not talking to Beyoncé, he’s talking to himself.

    • Erica_V says:

      Agreed – he’s talking to himself. A lot of the lyrics seem like that.

  7. osito says:

    On “Kill Jay-Z,” if you look at the pattern of situations, the referent of the “you” prounoun is always Jay himself. He’s talking to himself in the song, saying that *he* provoked Solange instead of just admitting that he was wrong, not Beyoncé.

    • STRIPE says:

      Good catch! And that makes a lot more sense in the Solange situation.

    • scar says:

      He knew solange was whooping him for good reason. He probably expected Beyoncé to take sides with him but the good sis didn’t say a damn word cos he deserved it

    • Wilma says:

      Yup, definitely think he’s referring to himself being wrong and having to admit that to Solange.
      I am looking so incredibly forward to listening and watching this!!!! I had been hoping he would do this and it seems like he’s going to be very honest!

    • DiamondGirl says:

      Right – because it would make no sense that she would have to say she was wrong. It was about his behavior and he’s saying he knew or should have known that it was infuriating Solange.

  8. FishBeard says:

    I’m sick of these two. Overhyped, overexposed, and overrated with the most obnoxious fans to boot. They’re both brilliant business strategists though.

    • Sami says:

      Poor you. Having to live with the fact that people have different tastes and that many people happen to really like musicians you dislike. You’ll feel much better if you just dont click on these stories.

    • scar says:

      The only thing im taking from this comment is that you do not know the meaning of overhyped, overrated and overexposed. I’ll give you an example though; Taylor Swift

      • FishBeard says:

        And I don’t disagree with your analysis on Taylor. But you shouldn’t take one person’s opinion on such a frivolous matter so personally.

    • scar says:

      Who took it personally?.we simply said that overhyped, overexposed and overrated are so!e of the things Beyonce and JayZ are not, have never been and will never be. If you think they are, you dunno the meaning of those words or you’re simply trolling

      • hmm says:

        I think they are just as overhyped overrated and overexposed as TSwift… However, they have managed to cultivate a godlike status that protects them from backlash.

      • BritAfrica says:

        Oh Scar, you’ve got me in stitches! :-)

        Over-hyped, overexposed and overrated – is just what some people want them to be. Unfortunately, it isn’t what they are.

      • slowsnow says:

        We are people with a different opinion trolls?
        Take the territory these people conquered but don’t worship them. They would not do the same for you. What people like B and JZ did is wonderful but they are now a money making machine. Talended and hard-working yes, but also milking the celebrity cow that you are contributing to create. Appreciate their work but remember they are flawed human beings like anyone else.

      • Otaku fairy says:

        @slowsnow: As true as that is, people seeking out posts about them or any other celebrity just to complain about the attention they get and comment on how they want them to go away are also contributing to that machine too.

  9. MissAmanda says:

    “Pray You Catch Me”: “You can taste the dishonesty / It’s all over your breath as you pass it off so cavalier”
    “Kill JAY-Z”: “You egged Solange on / Knowin’ all along, all you had to say you was wrong”

    When I read these I thought it might mean that Beyonce talked to her sister about her issues with Jay Z, but instead of confronting him herself and saying to him ‘you were wrong’, she let her sister call him out and it ended up being the elevator incident.

    Maybe I feel this way b/c I don’t think Beyonce can be perfect and there is a chance she didn’t handle the cheating the ‘right’ way at first. She got her family on her side to help her confront him about it and it wasn’t ideal or something.

  10. JCZ says:

    100 percent what you said , fish beard !! Wish they’d both go away already !!

    • scar says:

      No. He should stay right where he is. Look at the beautiful art he just dropped. Keyboard warriors should go away instead

    • Babs says:

      Lol you wish. But those two brilliant artists who top the game since decades won’t go anywhere and you will deal.

  11. PettyRiperton says:

    “I apologize for all the stillborns, cuz I wasn’t present your body wouldn’t accept it…”

    Bey lost babies because she was stressed he was out cheating. Just goes to show all that glitters isn’t gold.

    • scar says:

      That’s the lesson you took from this? Seriously? Come on now

      • PettyRiperton says:

        No smarta**! I was referring to the fact that we only see pics of these people smiling and dressed up. We don’t know the crap they’re dealing with. That the truth is way messier than the rumors.

    • me says:

      Hmmm so she was stressed from his cheating ways but was still trying to get pregnant by him? Why?

  12. Ayra. says:

    HE HALF-CONFIRMED THE KANYE RUMOURS.
    He apparently lent Kanye money, that 20 mil, for a business venture and that was never paid back.. my oh my.

    ETA: very interesting to see who’s telling him to go away..

    • HelloSunshine says:

      I am SO curious about this. I wondered if we’d ever get a confirmation and here it (kinda?) is. I know Ye went through some ish but this is messed up. Wonder if he’ll respond, he’s working on a new album now right?

      • Ayra. says:

        Yep. The friendship was on the rocks prior to that visibly, but after the money issue.. I think the Carters just cut him off.
        Yeah, Ye’s supposedly working on his album.

  13. Cleo says:

    I loved “Lemonade” and still listen to many of those songs on repeat (“Six Inch Heels” and “Freedom” especially), but I always cringe when a celebrity couple overshares their marital issues. It’s such a blatant money-grab capitalizing on personal, private difficulties.

    • BritAfrica says:

      Maybe, but this is a no-win.

      If they don’t share or speak about it and a hired help does after being fired/leg go/quit, then they are pretending that they have the perfect marriage…etc.

      If they do share, they are oversharing for commercial gain. Some people will not believe anyone famous because they collude/play the media all the time.

      To me, it’s debatable as to whether ‘Lemonade’ would have happened if the lift fight had not been so openly witnessed.

      • Cleo says:

        True. It’s probably just my own approach to relationships making me biased. I feel uncomfortable talking about me and my boyfriend even when things are great, not to mention when they could be better. I just try and get on with it, and whenever I see couples (famous or not) sharing intimate details like infidelity, miscarriages, etc., I shudder a little bit.

      • slowsnow says:

        I have the same feeling as you @Cleo. There is a fine line between extricating your own experiences from your bio to obtain something meanignful for everyone and just exposing yourself as a commodity. It’s hard to draw the line but it does bother me. After all everyone here is interpreting lines about facts that are private as only revealed partially.

      • BritAfrica says:

        @ slowsnow

        Please – do calm down. :-)

        You do not have to comment everywhere you see the black person with a good opinion of a black celebrity and make silly comments about looking up to them.

        For you it’s easy. All your life you have seen great representations of yourself/your race in the media. For some of us, that has not been the case.

        So when we see a black person(s) who has done well being challenged unnecessarily (in a way Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt never were on this blog), we naturally get defensive.

        It doesn’t mean that we are fawning stupidly or that we do not see their flaws as you seem to want to suggest. We just proudly, prefer to see the achievements of people who have done well despite the enormous odds.

        If you don’t understand that, then it really highlights the difference between your experiences and ours.

        I do not expect you to get it.

      • slowsnow says:

        @BritAfrica, yes, white females are represented everywhere and I cannot and will never experience what a black person goes through. (I will ignore what you suggest about me regarding black commentators on that account).So where do we go from here?
        What I mean is this: I will criticize all cynical moves any celebrity does to manipulate me into being interested for other reasons than the quality of their work. I am not even sure it’s the case with Beyoncé, mind you, I was stating the fine line she is treading. (I don’t agree with everything Obama has said and done or even Michelle for instance – I criticise their politics). I think that’s respecting their work don’t you think? Not just saying everything is roses because of where they come from or the colour of their skin.
        On my side I will never not criticise a white female immigrant celebrity if I feel she’s crossed a line just because she “represents” me. Ok, there are perhaps more female white immigrant role models for me to resort to (not many Portuguese I can assure you that), so point taken @BritAfrica.
        I do not imagine this is what you want to read – you do assume I can’t get it and you may be right.

      • Otaku fairy says:

        It seems like this is a relatively new complaint about something that’s not new at all though. Singers ( and writers too) use their personal experiences in their work all the time.

      • BritAfrica says:

        @ Otaku fairy

        Thank you. I was sure Bey and Jayz are not the first or only celebrity couple to ‘overshare’ but it does seem rather easier to fixate on them and call out their perceived numerous imperfections.

        And ofcourse, all of us who point out such blatant double standards and hypocrisy are crazed fans!

        Anyhoo, off to the Guardian comments section I go. I’ll get me coat…..

      • slowsnow says:

        @Otaku fairy Yes! You had a fair point upthread in response to mine and here again you hit the nail on the head. I comment about this fine line between universal experience and commodification because I work with art and artists: this question is not new actually but it has been taken to a new level and not just by B and JZ but also some filmakers such as Sarah Polley with her Stories we Tell or even to some level Boyhood (which meant getting old or older on screen). A perfomance artist Jay Z has actually collaborated with, Marina Abramovic, is also in that territory for instance. I think it is really interesting and sometimes being bothered by it does not mean it shouldn’t happen… It’s just what it is and if art does not toy with our expectations than it’s not art. I do worry if it becomes self-obsessed and starified though.

  14. Charles says:

    “Kill JAY-Z”: “You egged Solange on / Knowin’ all along, all you had to say you was wrong”

    Throughout the song he’s talking to/speaking about himself in the third person. He’s saying that HE egged Solange on and all he had to do was admit he was wrong.

  15. Sam says:

    Yawn…I am so sick of these two, and Solange. Especially Solange.

  16. Gene123 says:

    TMZ claims the twins are named Rumi and Sir

  17. Happy21 says:

    In Entertainment Weekly’s post this morning, I questioned these lyrics that were quoted, re: Beyoncé, the first pregnancy with Blue Ivy, the twins, etc.

    “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.”

    “I’ve seen the innocence leave your eyes/ I still mourn this death, I apologize for all the stillborns/ ‘Cause I wasn’t present, your body wouldn’t accept it”

  18. Andrea says:

    Here is a shocker folks: people can forgive cheating famous or not famous and carry on.

    • Happy21 says:

      And you know I’m actually glad that they have (hopefully) worked through their problems and have (apparently) come through it stronger.

  19. Jcz says:

    Don’t know about the other posters but I know that I ignore them 99.99 percent of time , for some reason I clicked on this . Everyone is free to have their opinion , so telling people to deal .. No we’ll continue not to pay them attention and think they get way too much credit . They come across to their non fans like phonies who are full of themselves .

  20. Joannie says:

    Sir Carter? Lol!

  21. me says:

    Such a private couple but so public now. Why? I guess they learned this is the only way to sell records now. Drama sells lol…real or made up.

  22. Toy Music for Toy People says:

    Trash culture garbage courtesy of the always-gloating, wildly overrated Jay-Z. Who on earth wants to listen to him jabbering aimlessly about his stupid life? Yeah…”Blue Ivy” contributed “work” to his album…such self-aggrandizing nonsense. Toss Gloaty McNostrils and Hipsy McWiggles on the junk culture landfill where they belong, no one cares about his glorified commercials for himself.