JAY-Z’s highly anticipated new album, 4:44, dropped at midnight Friday on Tidal, and after two listens I can safely say it doesn’t disappoint, improving mightily on previous Samsung-shepherded dud Magna Carta Holy Grail. It is Jay’s best album since the American Gangster soundtrack, and perhaps even bests that.
One of the tracks that has—and will continue to have—everyone talking is album opener “Kill Jay Z.” On it, Jay fires back at Kanye West, who delivered a series of rants aimed at his mentor during the recent Saint Pablo Tour, which was eventually cut short when Kanye suffered some sort of mental breakdown. “Don’t call me, after [Kim’s] robbery, and say ‘How you feelin’?’ You wanna know how I’m feeling? Come by the house,” said Kanye at a concert in October, adding, “Bring the kids by the house, like we brothers… Our kids ain’t never even played together.” Then, at a November show, he declared, “Jay Z—call me, bruh. You still ain’t called me. Jay Z, I know you got killers. Please don’t send them at my head. Please call me. Talk to me like a man.”
Cue JAY-Z: “I know people backstab you, I feel bad too / But this fuck everybody attitude ain’t natural / But you ain’t the same, this ain’t KumbaYe / But you got hurt because you did cool by ‘Ye / You gave him 20 million without thinkin’ / He gave you 20 minutes on stage, fuck was he thinkin’? / ‘Fuck wrong with everybody?’ is what you sayin’ / But if everybody’s crazy, you’re the one that’s insane.”
The $20 million-20 minutes on stage line could be referring to Tidal, Jay’s streaming-music service that Kanye has reportedly distanced himself from following its sloppy release of his last album, The Life of Pablo, and various other hiccups. During an October stop on the Saint Pablo Tour, Kanye unleashed a rant against Jay and Tidal, confessing, “Then it went into some political shit about percentages on songs. I can’t take this shit, bro.”
Around that time, Page Six published a report claiming that Jay was tiring of his old pal and Watch the Throne costar Kanye. “Jay can’t stand him,” a source told the tabloid. “He looks at him as this crazy, eccentric motherf--ker he can tolerate in small doses. Kanye is a nut job. Everyone knows that.”
In addition to Kanye, “Kill Jay Z” also throws shade at Halle Berry’s ex, Eric Benét, with Jay drawing parallels between Benét losing Berry and Jay almost losing Beyoncé over his rumored infidelity, which she alluded to on Lemonade. “You almost went Eric Benét / Let the baddest girl in the world get away / I don’t even know what else to say / Nigga, never go Eric Benét.”
Benét responded on Twitter:
And then there was a dig at Future, who collaborated with Beyoncé on her self-titled 2014 album, co-writing the single “Drunk in Love” (though he was mysteriously not given any songwriting credit). On the track, Jay references Future’s son, Baby Future, playing with his mom Ciara’s new man, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. “I don’t even know what you woulda done / In the future, other niggas playin’ football with your son.”