2017 has had plenty of reasons to look forward to New Release Friday. But only a few drops effectively had fans up at midnight collectively experiencing new music as a culture. Kendrick Lamar did it with DAMN., and this past Friday (June 30) JAY-Z released his fabled 4:44, taking over social media as fans gave it a hard listen. By nearly all accounts, it delivered on all fronts.
— TIDAL (@TIDALHiFi) June 30, 2017
Amid soundscapes orchestrated by chronically underrated producer No I.D., Jay delivered focused, age-appropriate bars that many have compared to his Blueprint era.
With little wasted space, Jay’s lyrics are dense throughout the 10-song TIDAL-released LP, and take a few listens to catch some of the most intricate references. Deeply personal at points, he takes straight shots and reminds listeners why heads back in 1996 were arguing all day about “Who’s the best MCs, Biggie, Jay-Z, or Nas?”
Not only did he make clear his feelings about Kanye and the coordinators of the late Prince’s estate, he even added to the Lemonade narrative and hilariously referenced Eric Benét — prompting a response on Twitter. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface.
Jay Z 4:44 album Dissed New school rappers, Responded To Lemonade, Dissed Kardashian and Kanye in 10 Tracks… pic.twitter.com/KJoYBJkwmM
— Saul (@saulacee) June 30, 2017
After a few listens, we’ve narrowed down our Top 20 bars from the album. Which lines were you feeling? Let us know in the comments below.
“Kill Jay Z”
“You gave him 20 million without thinkin’/ He gave you 20 minutes on stage, fuck was he thinkin’?/ ‘Fuck wrong with everybody?’ Is what you sayin’/ But if everybody’s crazy, you’re the one that’s insane.”
“You almost went Eric Benét/ Let the baddest girl in the world get away/ I don’t even know what else to say: Nigga, never go Eric Benét/ I don’t even know what you woulda done/ In the future, other niggas playin’ football with your son.”
“The Story Of O.J.”
“Y’all out here still taking advances, huh?/ Me and my niggas taking real chances, uh/ Y’all on the Gram holding money to your ear/ There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here, yeah.”
“The Story Of O.J.”
“I bought some artwork for $1 million/ 2 years later, that shit worth $2 million/ Few years later, that shit worth 8 million/ I can’t wait to give this shit to my children/ Y’all think it’s bougie, I’m like, it’s fine/ But I’m trying to give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99.”
“A stain on the white suit, inferior IQ/ Niggas’ll rip your shit off TIDAL just to spite you/ Ahhhh what did I do? ‘Cept try to free you/ Niggas’ll love you but hate you ’cause they can’t be you.”
“This was meant to be a haiku, huh / But my story’s too wide to fit inside one or two lines.”
“Caught Their Eyes”
“Y’all body language is all remedial/ How could you see the difference between you and I/ My crash course was much tougher/ Around friends who kill they friends then hug their friends’ mothers.”
“Caught Their Eyes”
“But ain’t no Biggie, no lazy eye, huh/ This guy had ‘Slave’ on his face/ You think he wanted the masters with his masters?/ You greedy bastards sold tickets to walk through his house/ I’m surprised you ain’t auction off the casket.”
“I still mourn this death, I apologize for all the stillborns/ ‘Cause I wasn’t present, your body wouldn’t accept it.”
“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/ ‘You did what with who?’/What good is a ménage à trois when you have a soulmate?/ ‘You risked that for Blue?’
“Nobody wins when the family feuds / But my stash can’t fit into Steve Harvey’s suit/ I’m clear why I’m here, how about you?/ Ain’t no such thing as an ugly billionaire, I’m cute.”
“A man that don’t take care his family can’t be rich/ I’ll watch Godfather, I miss that whole shit/ My consciousness was Michael’s common sense/ I missed the karma and that came as a consequence.”
“Uh, y’all make me turn up all this talkin’ down / Uh, niggas is skippin’ leg day just to run they mouth/ I be skippin’ leg day, I still run the world / I pressed ahead of your team with one finger curled.”
“Sometimes you need your ego, gotta remind these fools/ Who they effin’ with, and we got Effen too/ Before we had A&R’s we had AR’s too/ We the only ones really movin’ like y’all say y’all do.”
“I don’t be on the ‘Gram goin’ ham/ Givin’ information to the pork, that’s all spam/ Please don’t talk about guns t that you ain’t never gon’ use/ Y’all always tell on y’all self/I’m just so fucking confused.”
“Y’all niggas still signin’ deals? Still?/ After all they done stole, for real?/ After what they done to our Lauryn Hill?/ And y’all niggas is ‘posed to be trill?”
“Old Brooklyn not this new shit, shift feel like a spoof/ Fat laces in your shoe I’m talking busting off the roof/ Hold a uzi vertical, let the thing smoke/ Y’all flirting with death I be winking through the scope.”
“When Denzel was blottin’ carpet, I’ll pack a nine millimeter when Slick Rick made Mona Lisa/ When Lisa Bonet was Beyoncé of her day, I had divas y’all/ Think I just popped up in this bitch like a fetus? Nah.”
“We gon’ start a society within a society/ That’s major, just like the Negro League/ There was a time America wouldn’t let us ball/ Those times are now back, just now called Afro-tech/ Generational wealth, that’s the key/ My parents ain’t have shit, so that ship started with me.”
“See how the universe works?/ It takes my hurt and helps me find more of myself/ It’s a gift and a curse