While this won’t be everyone’s fight, this is the hill I’m willing to die on, so come at me. It’s only natural that the majority of music consumers will simply eat however they’re fed. The path of least resistance is always the most frequently traveled and I get that. I just feel too strongly for the art to allow business to get in the way of my ability to consume the music the way I want to in the long run. While it’s a great move for Jay himself (the business/man), I think he’s setting a dangerous precedent by going the exclusivity route with not only 4:44, but with his entire discography aside from a few exceptions (Streets Is Watching soundtrack, anyone?).
On Friday, June 30th, Jay-Z is releasing his fourteenth studio album, 4:44. Before its announcement, mysterious signs with the numbers “4:44” were popping up all over New York, including a full screen ad in Times Square. From there, the speculation began and a hope was born among fans, old and new. Were we FINALLY getting another Jay-Z album? When it was confirmed that the 4:44 ads were in fact promotion for his album, there was a mixed response. Elation from his fans tempered by ambivalence or disinterest from the folks who don’t get down with Hova. And, with reason, a bit of nervousness hangs in the air. Those who love Hov have been disappointed with his recent releases and so are managing their (ok, fine, our) expectations appropriately.
With his album release announcement, there was something else that crept into the broader discussion, though. Unsurprisingly, the intolerance for older hip-hop heads creating, consuming, and taking up space in hip-hop made its appearance. It’s been questioned whether a father, a husband, and a rapper who is just a cup of coffee away from 50 has anything interesting to say.