-- JAY-Z is coming clean on "4:44."
"The Story of O.J."
JAY-Z uses the story of former football player O.J. Simpson as a way to talk about the highs and lows of success, especially as a black man in America. "O.J. like I'm not black, I'm O.J...OK," he raps unconvinced. The rapper, seemingly addressing young entrepreneurs, also talks about building financial wealth such as by buying property instead of blowing it in nightclubs.
This bluesy feel-good track simply reminds listeners to take a beat to smile. "Bad times turn to good memories/Smile/Even when I'm gone you'll remember me/Smile," he raps. JAY-Z also reveals that his mother Gloria Carter identifies as a lesbian. Still, he makes it clear to the listener just what he thinks about it. He raps, "Cried tears of joy when you fell in love/Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her."
"Caught Their Eyes"
JAY-Z explained to I Heart Radio that this song is about "just being aware of your surroundings." He points to a verse where he raps, "Your body language is all remedial, how could you see the difference between you and I?" He also addressed his streaming service Tidal being sued by Prince's estate after they claimed he streamed the late singer's catalog without permission. JAY-Z said: "I sat down with Prince eye to eye/ He told me his wishes before he died."
Many are calling the title track a response to his wife Beyonce's "Lemonade" album where she tells the painful story of a woman being cheated on. On this song, JAY-Z raps: "I apologize often womanize/Took for my child to be born/See through a woman’s eyes/Took for these natural twins to believe in miracles/Took me too long for this song/I don’t deserve you." The rapper also said he was "emotionless" during their relationship before apologizing again.
Back on his typical Hov talk, JAY-Z collaborated with Damian Marley on this bass-heavy track. It seems that the rapper is reminding himself that despite his missteps and transgressions, he's still the man. "F--- all this Shawn Carter s---," he says, referencing his birth name. "Sometimes you need your ego/Gotta remind these fools," he adds on this track.
This track is clearly an ode to Brooklyn and the Marcy Projects, where JAY-Z grew up and which he often raps about. "I'm from Marcy Houses/Where the boys die by the thousands," he raps, before adding, "Yeah, that's where it all started."
If you had any question just where JAY-Z's head was, he makes it clear on the final song on "4:44." His daughter, Blue Ivy, helps on this track that talks about his desire to create generational wealth from his success, rapping, "that's the key." Jay-Z adds that if he could make this happen, it would be a first for his family. "Black excellence, baby, let them see," he raps.