The summer is heating up and so are the internet streets, which are currently ablaze with chatter surrounding the possibility of a new Jay Z album. Is it called 4:44? Does it have anything to do with the cryptic ads that have popped up everywhere?
For starters, in the last 24 hours, the world has learned that 4:44 is the title of a film starring Academy Award winners Mahershala Ali, Danny Glover, and Lupita Nyong'o, which will be released through TIDAL's partnership with Sprint.
OK, so then it must be an album with a visual component, right? Right?
Let's say that the rumors are true and we do in fact have a new album from the rapper/businessman/mogul/icon scheduled for release in the upcoming weeks. At 47 years of age and with 12 solo studio albums under his belt in a career that spans over two decades, how much rapping does Hov have left in him? He's four years removed from his last LP, Magna Carta... Holy Grail, which received a lukewarm response at best, and it's been a full decade since American Gangster, his last universally acclaimed full-length.
While he's shown flashes of the Jigga of old in recent years—Pusha's "Drug Dealers Anonymous," Jeezy's "Seen It All"—let's face it, four years without a project is a long time away in a rapidly changing rap ecosystem for a veteran pushing 50, even if his name is Shawn Carter.
How excited should we be for a possible new Jay Z album? The DJBooth squad has a few opinions.
Yoh: America let me down when Trump was elected president, the Falcons let me down when they lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and Oreo let Plies down after he took a bit of their Red Velvet-flavored cookies—my heart isn’t built for any more disappointment. Not getting excited about a potential Jay album is a defense mechanism. I’m protecting my sanity. For the love of all higher powers, don’t let us down Hov.
Brendan: Jay Z is the GOAT and should be respected as such, a living rap deity so solidified in hip-hop’s Mt. Rushmore that no amount of jumping-in-pool memes could subtract an ounce of his cool. I don’t care if it’s the year 2025 and the world is a Mad Max-style war zone of SoundCloud rappers and Lil Pump is our reigning Emperor, I’ll still be excited for a Jay Z album even if it's just 15 tracks full of references to opulent art I can't afford.
Brent: I'm torn. This feels somewhat like an ex messaging me out of nowhere, wanting to link up for coffee. You know the sex will probably be good, but you also know there's very little good that can come from reviving that relationship. Hov hasn't had anything to prove in years, which could either make for an experimental, fantastic album or another Kingdom Come-esque bore-fest.
Cinemasai: I remember how the triumphant horns of Jay's comeback single "Show Me What You Got" sent a jolt of excitement through my body. Sadly, this made for an even bigger letdown after the majority of Jay Z's second wind (save for Watch The Throne and American Gangster) turned out to be mid. Magna Carta Holy Grail was no Black Album, but there's a fierceness in that man's eyes and hunger in some of his recent guest verses that I hope he can translate to a new project. Never count Hov out.
Matt: Excitement for a Jay Z album feels relative at the moment. Am I excited for one of the greatest rappers of all-time to put out new music? Of course. Am I excited to hear Jay Z undoubtedly rap about six-month-old memes like Salt Bae and the blinking white guy .gif? Not a chance. I'm just hoping for a Jay album that feels like he knows what the internet is.
Hershal: On Jay Z’s last album, the artist famously went to war with Twitter, angrily exclaiming “fuck hashtags and retweets.” We owe it to Jay Z to be excited about his new album if only to see which niche social media features he’ll choose to shade this time. Snapchat stories? Facebook reactions? The possibilities are endless. Jokes aside, Jay Z has done more than enough to earn our cautious excitement, even if he’s sounded increasingly out of touch on all his recent feature appearances.