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5 lessons that Jay Z's 4:44 taught you

RnB/Hip Hop | Tuesday 12th December 2017 | Simmi

This year Jay Z secured a $200 million investment for his music streaming service, Tidal, with the investing company valuing Tidal at $600 million, which is ten times what he paid for it just two years ago. According to Forbes, the media company renowned for compiling lists of the worlds wealthiest people, this investment has made him the 2nd richest man in the US hip hop industry.

A man that we can all learn from, here are five things Jay-Z points out with lyrics from songs on his classy LP '4:44', a record that was released earlier this year to critical acclaim and huge expectation.

Stay independent, respect your music without a record label

“Y’all niggas still signin’ deals? Still? / After all they done steal, for real?” - Moonlight

Despite Jay Z being the founder of Roc Nation, one of the most successful entertainment companies in America, Hov doesn’t shy away from criticising the flaws in the industry. He speaks out to the younger generation of artists who are almost selling their soul to the money grabbing record labels. For years, artists have been taking themselves out of their labels, knowing that they are being robbed of their masters, and not getting the freedom to be the artist that they want to be. Nas, Michael Jackson, Chance the Rapper and even Jay Z himself, all opted to buy out their own contracts.
 

Be smart with your money, buy property

“I coulda bought a place in Dumbo before it was Dumbo, for like 2 million. That same building today is worth 25 million. Guess how I’m feelin’? Dumbo.” – The Story of O.J

“You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit. You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it / you ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it” – The Story of O.J

The story of O.J was one of the most talked about tracks on 4:44, mostly for the strong image that the Brooklyn rapper had portrayed of black people in America. Jay Z began referencing rappers taking their money to the strip clubs and blowing it. The controversial reaction arose when he referenced Jews doing financially well and owning a lot of property.

An on-going theme throughout 4:44 is the importance of spending your money in the right places. The Brooklyn wordsmith took the word DUMBO that initially stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass”, and spoke about when he almost took the chance of investing in a Brooklyn property, the rapper could have earned millions, if he had taken the risk, making him feel like Dumbo.
 

Be aware of reality, white privilege does exist

“We stuck in La La Land / even when we win, we gon’ lose.” – Moonlight

Earlier this year, the Oscars were in the spotlight, as they had a dramatic mishap.  Whilst the cast of La La Land took the stage to receive their award, a correction was made in which Moonlight (The black film) was the actual winner for the ‘Best Picture’ Academy award. Hov references this in a different light, to help explain the losses and struggles of the black community in America today. He goes on to use Moonlight as a metaphor, in which even when African Americans are at their height and achieving greatness, they are still losing. Losing to society. Losing to white privilege.


Be real with yourself, be aware of your surroundings

Bruh, I survived readin’ guys like you. I’m surprised y’all think you can disguise y’all truths. I seen eyes wide as they’re about to shoot. You can be a hairpin off and you can trigger your Roots. I wave to these haters, don’t give me dap. You know the world can see how phony you act.” – Caught Their Eyes

First of all, if you didn’t get the Questlove reference, I feel for you, but if you’re a fan you’ll know that Questlove is known for his Afro and hairpin. Jay Z shows he still has his ninja level wordsmith skills on this track, all while he talks about being aware of your surroundings. He covers the essential subject of being true to yourself, and anything less will get noticed.

Identify yourself in the skin you live in, fortune and fame is not as important as being honest with yourself

“Im not black, Im O.J. Okay…” - The Story of O.J

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Jay Z speaks about the real meaning behind his O.J reference. He explains that regardless of the fame and the success that O.J has, at the end of the day, you cannot escape the colour of your skin. He talks about everyone being equal and the importance of accepting yourself for who you are.

 

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