Just when you thought JAY-Z wiped out his entire closet of skeletons on 4:44, he creaks the door open even further on the hidden struggles of the world-conquering hip-hop titan, through three new bonus tracks, made available Friday (July 7) on the album’s physical release.
The level of candor listeners discovered on JAY’s 13th album was unreal. Despite dishing out plates of cold truth regarding his troublesome marriage, his mother’s sexual identity and his struggles as a black man in America, Hov hands us more servings of honesty on “Adnis,” “MaNyfaCedGod,” and “Blue Freestyle/We Family.”
On “Adnis,” the MC addresses his muddy relationship with his estranged father. Over the ghostly instrumental, Hov wrestles with his past demons in hopes of finally landing closure: “Started a good man, you married my mama/ I was in her belly, you hurried that summer/ She had two kids from a previous mister/ One family, I don’t believe in half-sisters,” raps Jay.
Rather than obliterate his late father for his shortcomings as a man, Hov lets bygones be bygones and buries his resentments once and for all. “Who would’ve thought I’d be the dad I never had/ Be the husband I’ve become/ You see, nothing come from that/ I forgive you as I live through the beautiful present of the past/ I’m just thankful that I get all these gifts to unwrap,” he closes the track.
After freeing himself from his scarred past on “Adnis”, Hov soaks in the moment as a proud dad on “Blue Freestyle/We Family.” The Brooklyn MC revels in joy as his five-year-old releases her first freestyle to the world. After dousing the track with fiery bars (for a five-year-old, certainly, Blue wraps things up with a simple catchphrase: “Boom shakalaka.” Then, she allows Daddy Dearest to step back into the booth and skewer President Trump (while paraphrasing Muhammad Ali): “Viet Cong never done s–t to me, feel me?/More worried about Trump than anyone overseas, feel me?” offers Jay.
Then, on his final track, the James Blake-featuring “MaNyfaCedGod”, JAY-Z audaciously tackles the elephant in the room one last time: Instead of drowning in his regrets, Hov reflects on the healing process that brought him and Bey back in harmony. “On the run, we took a hundred together/ More than the money was the fact that we done it together/ Uh, healing in real time/ ‘Song Cry’ to ‘Resentment,’ that was real crying,” he expresses.
Halfway through the track, the beat changes, and finds Hov putting the finishing touches on his apology to Beyoncé. “Broken is better than new, that’s kintsugi/ You’re fine china/ I’m a bull and ball in a china shop/ I promise to repair with gold each bowl I drop,” he skillfully pens.
With the inclusion of “Adnis,” “Blue Freestyle/We Family” and “MaNyfaCedGod,” Hov finally demolishes the ego that hindered him from achieving pure happiness. With 4:44, JAY-Z unmasks his vulnerabilities and presents us with the man he is now happy to finally become: Shawn Carter.