On Friday (June 30), JAY-Z dropped his new album 4:44.
Coming a year after Beyoncé’s Lemonade, which deeply explored her husband’s suspected infidelities, 4:44 feels as if JAY-Z is both coming to terms with what was said about his marriage and where he wants to go in the future.
As the album, which was released exclusively on TIDAL in partnership with Sprint, at times seems like a direct response to Lemonade, Billboard pulled together the connections between the two records and the couple’s marriage.
The album opener directly references an incident from the 2014 Met Gala when Beyoncé’s sister Solange Knowles and the rapper infamously got into a fight, which was speculated to be about his affair. On the song, he raps, “You egged Solange on / known’ all along / all you had to say was wrong.” Later in the song, he also calls on himself to be a better man by saying, “But you gotta do better, boy, you owe it to Blue.”
The song also speaks about infidelity by referencing Eric Benet, who cheated on Halle Berry saying, “You almost went Eric Benet / let the baddest girl in the world get away.”
In an interview with iHeartRadio, JAY-Z spoke about “4:44” and said, “It’s the title track because it’s such a powerful song, and I just believe one of the best songs I’ve ever written,” calling it “the crux of the album.” With this in mind, it feels as if the song is speaking directly to Beyoncé or following up her Lemonade track “Sorry.”
“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 s–t,” echoing Beyoncé’s lyrics on “Sorry”: “He always got them f–king excuses / I pray to the Lord you reveal what the truth is.”
On “Sorry,” Bey also brings Blue into the picture by singing, “Me and my baby, we gon’ be alright,” to which JAY-Z raps, “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.”
Similarly, the lyrics on “Sorry” say, “He trying to roll me up, I ain’t picking up.” Then, on “4:44,” JAY-Z pleads to Beyoncé to answer her with, “We talked for hours when you were on tour / Please pick up the phone, pick up the phone.”
As a whole, the song seems to chronicle their relationship from her 21st birthday to the birth of their first child, as JAY-Z repeatedly states that he apologizes for all that he has done wrong.
The album track, which features vocals from Beyoncé, also features a name drop of “Becky” — the same Becky referenced in Beyoncé’s “Sorry” when she sings, “He better call Becky with the good hair.” On the new track, he raps, “Yeah, I’ll f–k up a good thing if you let me / let me alone, Becky! / a man who don’t take care of his family can’t be rich.”