Artist: Jay Z
Genre: Hip hop
Release: June 30
There's a reason why Jay Z will always be on everyone's top count of greatest rappers of all-time lists: He exhibits great work ethic. And to continue his legacy, he released his thirteenth solo studio album, "4:44", and the excitement around it has been on another level.
"4:44" starts with Jay Z placing himself in place of absolute vulnerability in the track Kill Jay Z. It's addressing issues of his past, some that even inspired Beyonce's 2016 release Lemonade. The Story of OJ, which touches on racial segregation, samples Nina Simone's Four Women. Smile features Jigga's mother Gloria Carter, who openly comes out as a lesbian on the track.
In 36 minutes, you also get to experience the vocals of Frank Ocean in Caught Their Eyes and Damian Marley in Bam. Jigga also gets to work with his wife Beyonce on Family Feud, where he gets to address the split and misunderstanding between the new age of rap and the old-age rap.
The album closes with Legacy, a track that mentions the achievements of the Carter family over the years. By the time you are done listening to the album you realise the minimalism that comes with the project. It doesn't employ too much sophistication with its title and cover art, and it is brief and direct to the point. All Jay Z wants you to care about is what the album is actually about.
The 10-track project produced by rapper and record producer No ID, defines Jay Z's time. Through his lyricism and clever delivery, you can actually qualify him as one of the best writers and storytellers. He opens up about his personal life and does it so well, such that his fans feel like they are a part of it.
So is the album worth the listen? Yes, Shawn Carter offers a classical effort that tells a story that withstands the current pop-rap dominance. It doesn't matter whether it is the best album we've listened to this year on not. It's a perfect example of how a good rap album can sound.
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Thank you for participating in discussions on The Star, Kenya. Note that:
- Unwarranted personal abuse and defamatory statements will be deleted.
- Strong personal criticism is acceptable if justified by facts and arguments.
- Deviation from points of discussion may lead to deletion of comments.