Jay-Z Apologizes to Beyoncé, Bares His Soul On 4:44

Jay-Z Apologizes to Beyoncé, Bares His Soul On 4:44

On his new album, Jay-Z opens up about everything from Kanye West to the infamous elevator incident.

On his new album, Jay-Z opens up about everything from Kanye West to the infamous elevator incident.

Text: Jake Viswanath

Never accuse the Carters of being too private ever again. On his new album 4:44, released exclusively on Tidal this morning, Jay-Z opens up about everything from his views on our culture to his childhood to his indiscretions that betrayed Beyoncé. Yes, he went there, and he damn well needed to after the force that was Lemonade.

On the title track, Hov admits that he cheated on his wife and delivers the grand-scale apology and meditation of deep regret the world was waiting for. "I apologize, often womanize / Took for my child to be born to see through a woman's eyes," he says right from the start. "Took for these natural twins to believe in miracles / Took me too long for this song” (amen to that). He also acknowledges their devastating miscarriages and apologizes for that too. How really has no room for pride in this situation, and it’s refreshing coming from a highly masculine and idolized figure.

Jay-Z also opens up about his mother being a lesbian on the unbelievably touching track, “Smile,” where he voices his support for same-sex relationships. “Society shame and the pain was too much to take / Cried tears of joy when you fell in love / Don't matter to me if it's a him or her. I just wanna see you smile through all the hate / Marie Antoinette, baby, let 'em eat cake,” he raps in the first verse, giving a fascinating glimpse of his mother’s struggle and his growing acceptance of her sexuality. Gloria Carter herself also makes an appearance, giving a poignant speech on how to live your truth and continue to “smile.” Do what she says, even though you'll inevitably be soaked in your own tears after listening.

But Jay doesn’t keep everything sweet and sappy on 4:44. He comments on hustler culture in “The Story of OJ” and the downfalls of rap feuds in “Family Feud,” as he explains in his interview with iHeartRadio, but then lays into his (former?) friend Kanye West on eye-catching opener “Kill Jay-Z.” “I know people backstab you, I feel bad too / But this ‘f— everybody’ attitude ain’t natural,” he raps, likely in response to Yeezy’s remarks during his show in Sacramento. “But you ain’t the same, this ain’t KumbaYe/ But you got hurt because you did cool by ‘Ye/ You gave him 20 million without blinkin’/ He gave you 20 minutes on stage, f— was he thinkin’?/ ‘F— wrong with everybody?’ is what you sayin’/ But if everybody’s crazy, you’re the one that’s insane.” On the same track, he also publicly mentions the iconic elevator incident and takes responsibility for riling up Bey’s sister Solange. We always knew she was in the clear.

But among all the confessionals, commentary, and catty digs lies both a classic and revitalized Jay-Z, with his verses more cutting and his flow more natural than ever. Each line is wrapped in silky smooth production lifted straight from 90s hip-hop beats and melodies, but meshed with the bombastic instruments and confident bravado of rap today. Along with being his most searingly honest record, 4:44 is possibly his most cohesive album yet, showing potential for a creative renaissance in the rapper. If you have Tidal, listen to the entire album there.

Credits: Photo: Roc Nation

UP NEXT

Who You Need To See At Full Moon Fest