There’s a popular saying that behind “Every successful man is a woman, ” while I still have my own interpretations of that saying, I can’t deny the importance of a good supporting cast.
On her visual album – Lemonade
, the now mother of three accused her husband of cheating on her with “Becky with the good hair,” a claim that sent the BeyHive into overdrive.
Beyoncé sings, on “Sorry.” – “He only wants me when I’m not on there / He better call Becky with the good hair.”
Not only did the rap mogul address the infidelity rumors on some sections of the LP, but, according to No I.D. who assisted Jay Z in creating the project, Beyonce was a “de facto A&R.”
“I always call Bey our de facto A&R,” he said. “Pillow talk is the strongest conversation on the planet. Every song has to get past her ears, in my eyes. She came by a lot and played a good part in helping us get over hurdles on certain records. Of course, she’s genius-level with that.”
Despite Bey’s involvement, the LP wasn’t a direct response to “Lemonade.”
”Me, him and [Young] Guru, his [recording] engineer, knew that we didn’t want him to do an album of “Lemonade” response,” No I.D. said in an interview with The New York Times
. “We just wanted him to respond and then let it be and still touch on other things.”
In reference to the album’s title track, the veteran producer said, “I created that beat to box him into telling that story. I put the sample from the singer Hannah Williams — it starts off with, “I find it so hard/ When I know in my heart/ I’m letting you down every day.” I remember him hearing it and looking at me like, “O.K., fine.”
“I told him that’s the best song he’s ever written,” he continued. “Everything it covers about being a man, being in a relationship, being a father, how you affect your kids. These things don’t really get touched on in music, especially in hip-hop.”
Jay Z on “Family Feud” addresses “Becky with the good hair.” – “Yeah, I’ll fuck up a good thing if you let me / Let me alone Becky!”
On the album’s opener “Kill Jay Z” he compares himself to Eric Benét, Halle Berry’s ex-husband who lost the Oscar-winning actress due to his frivolous escapades. “You almost went Eric Benet/Let the baddest girl in the world get away.” He goes on to speak on the now infamous elevator incident involving himself and Solange Knowles. “You egged solange on, known’ all along, all you had to say you was wrong.’
On the album’s title track, he finally confesses to cheating on his wife with multiple women, “Look, I apologize, often womanize/Took for my child to be born/See through a woman’s eyes.”
In an interview with iHeartRadio Jay Z says “‘4:44’ is a song that I wrote, and it’s the crux of the album, just right in the middle of the album. And 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.”
Throughout their entire recording sessions which began back in December, No I.D. says he never directly spoke to Jay about “Lemonade” and the assertions of cheating.
“No, we never directly spoke about that album. Mainly because if he talks about himself, it’s going to bleed into that regardless. But there’s a difference in talking about it for the sake of response and for the sake of honesty and the truth. The truth needs to explain why you are the way you are, why you did what you did. We know what happened. We got it. But what were the circumstances that led to this and how do you feel about it?”
His wife’s genius wasn’t the only thing that inspired “4.44,’ According to No I.D. whose real name is Dion Wilson.
“I asked him: ‘What do you listen to? Because I’ll sample some of it.’ He gave me this playlist and we began to make pieces of music out of the music that he listened to. My philosophy was scoring his reality, his lifestyle and his taste. He kept adding songs into this playlist, so I made pieces of music out of all of it. I knew it would just keep him going, keep him engaged. Some of the tracks that say they were co-produced by Jay-Z, those are the ones where he gave me the idea of the song [to sample], like Nina Simone’s “Four Women” [on “The Story of O. J.”].”
“4.44” is already the best rap album of 2017 and one of the best to come out in a long time. Physical copies of the project as well as a new video for the title track are expected this Friday.