Here’s Our First-Take Listen To Jay-Z’s ‘Lemonade’ Response Album, ‘4:44’
Is this the unveiling of a new blueprint for Hov, or is it a masterclass in being apologetic?
I arrived at Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club to sheer pandemonium—rightfully so—because the streets were itching for a new album from one of Forbes’ richest MCs in the game. People came out in mass force, attempting to wheel, deal, beg, steal and borrow any favor they could in hopes of getting into one of the most anticipated album listening sessions this year. Your favorite neighborhood managing editor was imbued by the native energy surrounding 4:44 and like an underage kid trying to get into The Tunnel back in the day, I fought my way through the dressed-up crowds and made my way into the equally packed 40/40 Club.
With literally nowhere to post up or get comfortable at, I played the back of the venue, eagerly anticipating a sight or peek at the God MC, Memphis Bleek, hell, I’d even settle for Ty Ty, Jay’s best friend of over three decades. I should’ve arrived at 9:45 p.m. like I originally planned on doing, but no complaints, I was in the mix and by 11:30 p.m. the DJ was knee-deep into a Jigga set that was fueled by rare grooves (“Nuthin’ But Love ft. Sauce Money), remixes (Talib Kweli’s “Get By” Remix) and hella bounce (“Girl’s Best Friend”). It was a strong showing of classic and unreleased Hova that showed just how far the hustler from Marcy Projects has come in the past two decades.
By the time the DJ got to Jay’s “Watch the Throne” era of music, the 40/40 was rocking from pillar to post with everyone yelling out those hot lines and adlibs with every DJ needle drop. It was during that time that I made the rounds, saying what’s up to folks I knew who made it past the sea of faces to enjoy the mix. With that said, quick shout-out to Rob Markman (Genius), Desus Nice (Desus and Mero), Rory Farell (I’ll Name This Podcast Later / The Joe Budden Show), Datwon Thomas (VIBE) and rapper Peter Gunz. It was exactly a minute before the album listening session was to begin when the DJ closed out his set with “Encore” from The Black Album,” an appropriate song if there ever was one.
As Elliott Wilson took the mic to serve as the night’s host, eager ears were anticipating what was to come out of the speaker for Jay-Z’s 13th studio album, 4:44. Some technical difficulties prevented things from starting off without a hitch, leaving the dead air as an opening for some fans to become hecklers in the crowd (“Play the fuckin’ album” could be heard multiple times in the background). After about a half-hour or so of tinkling, the album, 4:44 started and it showed that Jay has grown considerably from his mistakes made on Lemonade and had more than enough jewels for #BlackExcellence to reign supreme for another 1,000 years.
Like our previous entries, this first-take listen of 4:44 features all substance, no filter and no rewinding or replays of any kind. Please be sure to support the artist by copping 4:44 or streaming it on TIDAL. Enjoy!