Jay-Z’s jaunty anthems made him one of rap’s all-time greats and then, as he amassed a business empire and married fellow superstar Beyonce, he drew an ever thicker curtain over his private life.
Releasing an album after a four-year gap, Jay-Z has bared himself like rarely before. He apologizes to Beyonce for cheating and pours out love for his mother whom he reveals to be lesbian, all while taking familiar but timely shots on the politics of race.
“4:44,” the 13th studio album by the rapper born as Shawn Carter, came out Friday as an exclusive on his upstart Tidal streaming service whose new part-owners, telecom provider Sprint, is banking on the release to woo customers.
Jay-Z — who, apparently energized on punctuation, has restored his name’s hyphen — delivers a long-awaited public reply to Beyonce who chastised him for infidelity on her acclaimed “Lemonade” album a year ago.
“I apologize / Our love was one for the ages and I contained us,” Jay-Z raps over a brassy Gospel refrain.
“What good is a menage-a-trois when you have a soulmate? You risked that for Blue?” he asks rhetorically, referring to the couple’s five-year-old daughter Blue Ivy.
Beyonce recently gave birth to twins, her father revealed on social media, although the family has yet to confirm details. Jay-Z on “4:44” suggests they conceived the twins naturally.
Jay-Z, discussing the album on iHeartRadio, said “4:44” was named for the time of morning when he woke up and wrote the song. He and Beyonce have matching ring-finger tattoos of the Roman numeral “IV” — four being the day in different months of their wedding and both their birthdays.