Headphones: Ambition at 46 -- Jay Z Gifts Us With 4:44
Jay Z’s 14th studio album has gone platinum in just five days of an exclusive release on Tidal paired up with Sprint. According to MUSO, a tech company that records statistics on piracy, the company recorded almost a million illegal downloads of 4:44 in just three days (one of them being Snoop Dogg).
Don't sleep on DeJ Loaf's just-the-beginning career; listen to her new single "No Fear."
And Kendrick Lamar's highly acclaimed record DAMN., features the popular song "ELEMENT," that now has an intriguing visual story to coincide.
Album of the Week: 4:44 – Jay Z: This is one of the first works of Jay’s where we are exposed to very personal, detailed poetic introspection and reflection on the basis of “who is Jay Z?” “How will he represent his family, the African American race, and himself?” The intro track "Kill Jay Z," takes a third person perspective; he questions himself, wondering why he should be trusted. How he will justify his unfaithful mistakes to his daughter and son one day? “You can’t heal what you never reveal,” He preaches in "Kill Jay Z," stressing the main idea of this song — letting go of his ego and staring honesty square in the face to make for an all-around better Jay Z.
"The Story of O.J." is a truly prolific animated political cartoon produced by Elizabeth Newman and Daniel Midgley, illustrated through Jay's weary witnessing eyes. The black and white cartoon explores America through the various different characters ("light n*gga," "house n*gga," "rich n*gga"). The video strategically and creatively takes us through many pivotal moments in America’s history. We travel through the lens of a big band jazz pianist at a Burlesque club during the 1920s, a segregated bus passenger, a Klu Klux Klan gathering and so much more. Jay spits fire verses tying together a plethora of topics like financial freedom and Jewish people.
“I’m not black I’m O.J…OK” here he is questioning/refuting famous remarks from the former NFL player, and defending black America as a whole by naming every possible stereotypical black person as means to deliver his central message — you are just as black as the rest of us, O.J. The repeated chorus gets louder and faster with each loop, becoming more and more adhesive. The scattered jazzy piano melody does wonders for the powerful rhythm in this track.
Jay gets into more personal struggles he has faced in "Smile," discussing his mother having to hide her sexuality as a lesbian and how he “cried tears of joy” when she fell in love, “don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her.” This is one of the more transparent songs, simply about grinning and bearing it. Your struggles in life can keep you within the "shadows," of fear. You can either meekly remain in the shadows, or "be free, smile" and let life’s occurrences shape you into a stronger person.
‘Caught Their Eyes,’ featuring Frank Ocean will catch your ears, rather. The track is solid by involving a tropical melody over a simple, old-fashioned beat that Z absolutely tears up with all the swagger and ease we know him by. Two creative visionaries, Ocean and Z always produce musical chemistry— ‘Caught Their Eyes,’ is no different. Careful breaks in Jay’s part serve Frank’s unique flare well, and a strategically placed drum makes the music that much more authentic and enjoyable.
Debatably the best song on the album comes with "4:44," a song Jay woke up at 4:44 in the morning to write. This emotional, soulful apology pretty much confirms the predisposed theory that Jay is the cheating character in Beyoncé’s story "Lemonade." Jay addresses his young, innocent children who are too young to understand his unfaithful mistakes. He battles with the fear of no longer being a hero to his children once they are old enough to understand the mistakes he has made in his marriage.
Another strong track occurs with the melodious Rastafarian dance track "Bam," featuring Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley. This track is probably the most fun, yet relentless. The lyrics in this song reminds us that you do need a bit of ego to achieve a career like Jay Z’s.
Hard-hitting sparks fly with Beyoncé’s feature on "Family Feud." Jay even responds to Beyoncé’s accusations in her song "Sorry," featured on Lemonade. Her lyric reads “He only want me when I’m not there/He better call Becky with the good hair.” Jay addresses his alleged affair by rapping, “I’ll fuck up a good thing if you let me/Let me alone Becky.” You can almost feel the tension and hurt within the intense beat, Jay’s regretful tone and Beyoncé’s soulful “Amens.”
Take a walk down nostalgia lane with "Marcy Me," as Jay digests his 20 plus years as a hip-hop legend. He recalls on how he began as a hungry hustler from Brooklyn with an enormous dream; How his dreams have become his reality. His "Legacy," is heavily imprinted on us after listening to the final track characterized by a slowed syncopation, jazzy horn instruments and expressive thoughts meandering throughout Jay Z’s brain.
Single of the Week: No Fear – DeJ: DeJ Loaf has yet to release an album, yet gets recognition from highly regarded names like Drake, Big Sean and Young Thug. The humbled and hardworking female rapper has the most distinct, fun voice alike what we experience with Young Thug and Lil Wayne — we know when they are on the mic. Her recently released single "No Fear," came out on June 16 and almost dissipated into the stratosphere of other fun summer records that were also released within the same time frame.
I’m here to remind you how delightful and light-hearted this track is, and why it needs to be added to your summer playlist if you have not done so already. This feisty fun talent who goes by DeJ Loaf strategically began her music video by advertising for Beats and listening to her hit single "Try Me." A wonderful video is illustrated of DeJ’s sweet lyrics about loving without fear. The track is incredibly strong on its own, and the music video simply helps get her idea across about being free and enjoying life with the person you love. Loaf playfully dances and rides a rocketship-shaped bed/car, while she encourages her lover to take these chances with her, to give into their love.
ELEMENT. – Kendrick Lamar: “They won’t take me out my element…” Kendrick Lamar’s “element” is defined as the hostile, violent atmosphere he grew up in that is vividly illustrated in the powerful new music video directed by the Little Homies (Kendrick and Dave Free) and Jonas Lindstroem. The video begins with a mysterious hand reaching out from a body of water. The arm is used as a metaphor, crying for help from all the uproar that proceeds this opening scene. The video features children watching a house burn to ashes, intense group brawls, a man bleeding out in the street and more threatening situations. They all tie back to K-Dot’s implications that you are always your worst and sometimes only enemy.
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Over a month later, Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber’s ‘Despacito,’ continues to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart, granting this track another title of "hit single of the summer."