Hov’s growth lectures take us to a deep and personal place and for the first time, we get a glimpse of faults, flaws, failures, all from infidelity. But we know how it goes, “Hov did that so hopefully, you won’t have to go through that.” In the midst of laying another blueprint, Hov caught a body in Eric Benet, who let one of the best ones get away, showed how your Future could end up in another one of those classic double entendres and made sure we knew that he was talking about it by proclaiming “Let me alone Becky!” taking us back to LEMONADE. The truth that was owed to the youth is now on front street and shines as “grow with me as a man” – including putting pride aside when interacting with your sister-in-law.
It would be doing 4:44 a disservice by hanging a hat on relationship enhancement. Hov peeped the game early and is looking to putting those under him in years on as well. Financial stability and literacy are vital to modern day Jigga and he is putting the game of investments, real estate and more out to the masses. “Story of OJ” brings Hov to inspire a flip of your cash, investing in your areas and people and securing your future instead of buying every car with a powerful engine. Evolution highlights strip club money can be put in better places instead of g-strings, your stack on Instagram can be bigger and not be able to be held to your ear, all pieces a younger Jay didn’t consider, evidenced by referring to himself as “DUMBO” for not investing in a tech-dominant area of Brooklyn when it was at a cheaper buy rate. Generational financial security is also advocated in “Legacy,” where he is something to leave to his family.
“Bam,” an early fan favorite due to its ability to blare from speakers, is an interesting addition to the album. The growth Jay-Z initiated with a breakdown of his character on the album’s opener is a far cry from the exclamatory “Fuck all this pretty Shawn Carter shit nigga, HOV” that opens the Damian Marley assisted single. To get where you are now “Sometimes you need your ego, gotta remind these fools,” he spits, and that reminder goes to former protege Kanye West, who is targeted for his transgressions, Londell McMillan, the lawyer for the Prince estate, among others. To reinvent oneself, one must exercise demons. Those demons don’t always have to be internal.
Owning responsibility was evident through his romance and finance, but also within hip-hop and black culture supporting each other. Strongly evident in “Family Feud,” Jigga educates on how the road to success and prosperity doesn’t have to come at the expense of belittling the someone else’s moves. In the race to a Billi’ in hip-hop you have Hov and Puff Daddy, they both will make it, and Jay has no issue in assisting his counterpart to get there. But that sense of cultural responsibility also works to mend the wounds of hip-hop, traditionalists vs. new generation, those in love with bars and those who love, for lack of a better word that is culturally identifiable, “mumble rap.” As a unit, if the genre and our culture are to improve it can’t work as a divided entity. That divide can lead to “Moonlight,” were a separated group is making wins but where do they go in the grand scheme? Both of which precede “Marcy Me,” a flawless sample of hip-hop directing a walk down memory lane of the hallowed halls of where the Bedford-Stuyvesant mind orchestrated the past couple decades we got to embrace.
Over the course of 4:44 there isn’t a second wasted. Lyrically Hov is near his peak, delivering lines that you must rewind and verses that need multiple plays to unpack everything that was hand, well, mind crafted, and No I.D. shoulders the weight of being the first producer to be solely aligned next to Hov for the full-course of an album like it was just a couple feathers. Jay says it best on “Smile”: “Oh y’all thought I was washed? Far from it, instead rejuvenated, baring it all and once again dishing out assists to life growth.