What Did We Learn From 4:44
Hip-hop music has shown that has lasting power. For almost 40 years now, we have seen this genre continue to break records and become the new “pop” music. One artist who has maintained a successful career with it, jay-z, released new music last month. The question I want to ask is what did we learn from it?
Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, “Kill Jay-Z.” That’s how Jay-Z’s newest project 4:44 starts off. No funny skit to prep you for what’s about to happen. No sound byte from previous recordings to let you know what you are about to hear. Nothing but a dope beat and an even doper Emcee going in. That’s how you know something major is about to take place. That’s the signs of a true artist who has emerged as arguably the greatest of all time in the world of hip-hop music, knows how to carry the culture forward. However, for some reason it seems that the message behind 4:44 is unclear to some, hypocritical to others, and just not interesting to the rest. Unless you are a true lover of hip-hop music. If you fall in that category, then this project was everything you wanted and more. Why you ask? I’m so glad you did. It’s because if you pay attention to everything happening with 4:44, you’d realize it embodies what hip-hop music is about. It also produces some of the biggest boasts and claims from a young man who really didn’t have a “Blue Print” laid out for him to follow. Bragging and boasting is really what hip-hop was about, however the difference is most of the others that did it couldn’t back up the claims. Jigga can and then some. It’s really an awkward position, the project has put the music game in. Today rappers are becoming more popular and more flashy. Something Jay-Z made his career of doing in the past. We all remember he and Jermaine Dupree riding through the cit claiming that “Money Ain’t a Thang.” How is it so that now that he has more money than any other rapper has ever had, he is talking about being more responsible with it? Even more to that point, how is it the same guy who made all kinds of songs showing his lack of a desire to have a monogamous relationship, dedicates and titles this project in reference to his “Soul Mate?” Pretty confusing huh? I could see how people could get caught up on those things, but to me what we should’ve learned is that nothing grows up without growing up. One of the biggest problems for rappers has been the ability to keep the wealth they obtained, while entertaining the masses. Most of this was due in part to the fact that most artists didn’t understand the business side of things and were more concerned about being the “hottest” thing out. You’re not so hot, when you’ve appeared before people one moment with what appears to be millions of dollars worth of “status” only to see after a few years and someone else is the new “hot” thing, the record label shifts the money their way. Leaving you looking like WTF. Jay-Z the businessman knew the value of being independent from the very start, meaning that he controlled the amount of money that would be put to his campaigns each time out. He also knew the value of getting “sure dough.” Knowing how valuable hip-hop music is to the marketing of just about everything out now (soda companies, Honey Nut Cheerios, and even H&R block) his deal with Sprint this time around (remember it was Samsung last time) assured he would get paid regardless if the masses no longer wanted to be led by Hov. A lot of people learned that Jay-Z obviously did something he wasn’t supposed to the Queen B herself. People feel like this project only solidifies the claims of Beyoncé “Lemonade” and fulfills the curiosity of what really happened in that elevator with Solange’. To those people I say, you must look harder. The industry always felt that rappers couldn’t be smarter than suits. So when rappers were able to sell CD’s like they could sell drugs on the streets, the suits got a little worried and realized something had to change. Now music is sold by the platforms they are played on, not the physical media it’s on. Subscription services are the new way of life. Having the best content exclusively on one of those said platforms gives you the edge in making your service stand out. Tidal, which is Jay-Z’s streaming service has been the one that exclusively held projects like Kanye West, Beyoncé Lemonade and now 4:44 (BTW Solange sold more records than she has ever on her last project). What we should’ve learned is that this guy is pretty freaking smart!