Jay-Z in Montreal

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Updated: July 19, 2017
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Album Review: Jay-Z’s 4:44

On acclaimed early albums such as 1996’s Reasonable Doubt and 2003’s The Black Album, Jay-Z explored the virtues of excellence, longed for the glory of celebrity lifestyle, and discussed exactly what it means to be great. These albums garnered universal critical praise, and cemented the Brooklyn native as one of the best-selling artists of all time. However, as later albums and hits like “Empire State of Mind” demonstrate, the King of Rap’s music has evolved in tangent with his personal growth. On his latest album 4:44, gone are the lyrics about hustling and suburban warfare. These days, Jay-Z provides ruminations on the fickleness of time, human frailty, and the importance of empathy. As a result, Jay-Z has once again become the most interesting rapper in the world.

Released on June 30, 4:44 is the Roc Nation founder’s first album since 2013’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and sold 528,000 copies in its first week. On this intensely personal studio effort, listeners are offered an unexpected masterpiece from a rapper who has been in the game for over two decades. Indeed, after thirteen studio albums, it is comforting to know that Jay-Z can keep surprising the world, and that he hasn’t lost his inimitable swagger.

In many respects, 4:44 reaffirms Jay-Z’s relevance and displays a facet of the mastermind that has not been seen before. While much of modern rap is concerned with pompous boasts of lavish lifestyles, the prosperous entrepreneur turns the tables by exploring his fallacies and vulnerabilities. The sample-heavy album touches on topics such as his infidelity to his wife Beyoncé (first alluded to on her 2016 release Lemonade), his tumultuous relationship with frequent collaborator Kanye West, and even the hardships encountered by his mother due to her sexual orientation. On standout tracks like album-opener “Kill Jay-Z” and “The Story of O.J.”, the rapper oozes a self-awareness that is as surprising as it is appreciated.

In short, the apologetic 4:44 is a return to form for the masterclass rapper, and effectively reestablishes his status as the most gifted rapper in the world.

To promote 4:44, Jay-Z will embark on a 31-date tour that will visit Canadian venues such as Montreal’s Bell Centre, Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, Edmonton’s Rogers Place, and Vancouver’s Rogers Arena. Jay-Z always provides top-notch entertainment that’s a step above the rest – as such, this tour should not be missed under any circumstances.