Billionaire rapper Jay-Z promised political relevance in 2013’s Magna Carta
, and listeners instead got numerology conspiracy and top-shelf liquor. More recently, he insisted that 4:44
would be devoted to frank confessions, but the lyrics are largely about the street credit of the ultra-rich and corporate-connected. There are exceptions, including the self-deprecating opening track “Kill Jay-Z” and the title track’s sincere apologies to wife Beyonce for infidelities. And Jay-Z combines the best of both worlds while rapping about his father on “Adnis,” a song that suggests that financial independence is the ultimate liberation. Fortunately, the audio tricks and sampling on this album rival the best moments of his collaboration with Kanye West, Watch the Throne
. But while the lyrics preach honesty from a position of power, it appears that Jay-Z has been gone from the streets so long that he would no longer recognize them.
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