JAY-Z’s 4:44 dropped at midnight, but he’s already dropping some behind-the-scenes knowledge on his 13th solo album.
Speaking about the lyrics with iHeartRadio, the Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee opened up about what every song means to him, starting with the Kim Burrell-assisted title track.
“It’s the crux of the album, just right in the middle of the album,” he explained. “I woke up, literally, at 4:44 in the morning, 4:44 AM, to write this song. So it became the title of the album and everything. It’s the title track because it’s such a powerful song, and I just believe one of the best songs I’ve ever written.”
Jigga spoke with iHeart as part of a launch partnership. To celebrate 4:44’s release, the radio network will play the album in its entirety all day today. Released exclusively through TIDAL, the album’s additional song meanings can be found below.
“BAM” FEAT. DAMIAN MARLEY
“The song ‘Bam’ with Damian Marley, it’s just jammin’, it’s just like the song. But it’s secretly Shawn Carter saying, ‘Man, you need a bit of ego.’ It was because of me and the things that I’ve done, this is JAY-Z saying you needed a bit of ego for us to arrive at this point.”
“CAUGHT THEIR EYES” FEAT. FRANK OCEAN
“‘Caught Their Eyes’ is a song that’s dealing with just being aware of your surroundings. There’s a line in it, and it says, ‘Your body language is all remedial, how could you see the difference between you and I?’ Just being so sharp about your surroundings.”
“FAMILY FEUD” FEAT. BEYONCÉ
“‘Family Feud’ is about separation within the culture. Like, new rappers fighting with old rappers, saying all these things. So, the line is, ‘Nobody wins when the family feuds.’”
“KILL JAY Z”
“The first song is called ‘Kill Jay Z’ and obviously, it’s not to be taken literal. It’s really about the ego. It’s about killing off the ego, so we can have this conversation in a place of vulnerability and honesty.”
“LEGACY” FEAT. BLUE IVY CARTER
“The song is just about what it is, it’s like a verbal will. Just a song about speaking to my daughter. She starts the song off, and she says ‘Daddy, what’s a will?’”
“MARCY ME” FEAT. THE-DREAM
“‘Marcy Me’ is a nostalgic walk through Marcy, and it’s about that hopefulness, that feeling of ‘Man, can I really do this? Can I really be one of the biggest artists in the world?’ You have these dreams, ‘Can I be one of the biggest basketball players?’ We have these dreams.”
“The hook is ‘We stuck in La La Land/Even if we win, we gonna lose.’ It’s like a subtle nod to La La Land winning the Oscar, and then having to give it to Moonlight. It’s really a commentary on the culture and where we’re going.”
“SMILE” FEAT. GLORIA CARTER
“‘Smile’ is just what it is. There are gonna be bad times, and those bad times can do two things: they can get you in a place where you’re stuck in a rut, or it can make your future that much better because you’ve experienced these things.”
“THE STORY OF O.J.”
“‘The Story of O.J.’ is really a song about we as a culture, having a plan, how we’re gonna push this forward. We all make money, and then we all lose money, as artists especially. But how, when you have some type of success, to transform that into something bigger.”