Everything We Know About Jay Z’s Upcoming Album ‘4:44’

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Jay Z’s focus has been on things much bigger than music over the last few years. Sure, he has popped up with a number of notable feature verses since 2013’s Magna Carta Holy Grail—his feature on Rick Ross’ “The Devil Is a Lie” is a highlight—but as far as solo work goes, Jay has been dormant.

And who could blame him? The legendary rapper recently became a father of three, was the first rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and continues to try to shake up the business world. When you’re in the middle of solidifying a sports agency and trying to build an artist-centric streaming platform, you don’t have as much time to drop new albums.

The drought appears to be over, however, after it was finally revealed on Sunday night that 4:44, Jay’s mysterious new project, would be a full-fledged album. And there are hints that Jay might be throwing it back on the new project—his reps recently confirmed the hyphen in his name is back, perhaps signaling a return to his old ways. His name is also all caps; guess it’s JAY-Z SZN.

Here’s everything we know about the 4:44 project so far.

Release Date

4:44 started out as as a weird, unexplained ad campaign, with a series of flesh-colored ads popping up in early June. Eventually, the connection was made to Jay, and before we knew it would be an album, a release date was revealed by HipHopDX, marking down a release date of June 30.

We got further confirmation of this once Jay dropped a brief trailer of the project. The new 30-second spot flashed the date for all the world to see, teasing 4:44 for the same June 30 date.

Features

Jay isn’t exactly Mr. Social Media—he promised he’d delete the Twitter app off his phone after a long salute to his peers in the rap game—so any word on the featured artists on 4:44 isn’t coming from him. At this point, the most you can say is that you can’t rule anyone out, because Jay has been showing love to a diverse collection of artists lately.

Take a look at some of the inclusions in his list of shout-outs. There are a ton of no-brainers who made the cut, like Nas and André 3000, but Jay showed love to the new generation of artists as well. One particularly interesting inclusion was Playboi Carti, whose song “Magnolia” got a direct acknowledgment from Jay and is currently playing in the background of ads for Sprint’s partnership with Tidal.

You could sit and try to parse through his full list of acknowledgments all day and come up with 50 different answers. It’s also worth noting that he lumped a groupof newer, established rappers—Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Jay Electronica, and Chance the Rapper—right alongside some of the best to ever do it. Electronica and Cole are part of his Roc Nation imprint, so he has incentive to big up his guys, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see any/all of those artists on 4:44.

All we have at the moment is speculation. No features have been confirmed yet, but if you look at what his last couple albums have shaped up like, expect a star-studded cast to flank Jay.

Production

There’s one prominent rumor regarding the production for 4:44 at the moment—it could be produced exclusively by the legendary No I.D. That’s the word from filmmaker Chris Black, anyway.

We can’t dismiss Black’s claim, but it does raise a few eyebrows because of how big a change a pace it would represent. Jay tends to fall into a groove with one producer for a lot of his projects—Magna Carta was heavy on beats from Timbaland, while Blueprint 3 had six of its 15 songs with No I.D. attached—there’s no real precedent for him to launch an album with a single producer.

These two have been working together for a while, though. Jay Electronica shared a picture of the duo in the studio together way back in 2014, long before we had any idea 4:44 would be a thing.

If anyone is capable of stewarding a project on his own, it’s No I.D., though it makes us wonder where those collaborations with Zaytoven and Mike Will Made-It went.

Album Art

If the art we’ve seen attached to the project so far is any indication, you should expect a pretty bare bones effort for the album artwork. The announcement of the official album used the same color scheme as the ads that have been popping up everywhere.

Songs

We already have a small piece of one off the songs from 4:44, courtesy of a trailer that dropped on Sunday evening. “Adnis,” which doubles as the name of Jay’s father, plays in the background of the advertisement, with Jay spitting a few bars about messages he never shared with his deceased dad.

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