Monday, July 10, 2017

Album Review: 4:44 (Part 2)

When Jay-Z's new album, 4:44, first hit Tidal last week I was going to blame Republicans as to why I hadn't heard the release. It went something like forgetting to cancel a trial subscription because they have your credit card information causing you to cancel in a panic in which you trip and break your pinky toe to the tune of a $20,000 ER bill that you can't pay cause you can't get no healthcare cause free trials are a pre-existing condition.

Now, I'm no Jay-Z fan so I'll keep words like "classic" far away from my take on 4:44 and let his Day 1 fans decide that. But I'll gladly let anyone know that I thoroughly enjoyed 4:44 without rehashing lyrics or going into an in-depth track analysis because you deserve a break from yesterday. And now, since I've heard the album, that kinda kills the joke above (no healthcare, remember? Womp!). But I do have a unique take away from 4:44 I'd like to share with you - Producer No I.D. was Jay-Z's sole collaborator for the album. Now, if that's not a big deal to you then allow me explain why it should be.

In 1994, Nas' Illmatic album ushered in a new era of hip hop albums by featuring multiple producers on the instant classic. Nas unintentionally flipped the album creation process on it's head by inviting numerous chefs into the kitchen to stir the pot. And ironically, this was all due to the fluke that Large Professor was unavailable to (executive) produce the album with Nas!1 So for the next 23 years the biggest names and album releases in hip hop have followed that formula with few exceptions. Yet, here again in 2017, Jay-Z and No I.D. could be leading the charge back to the classic formula of one emcee and one producer sharing a vision for an album, in its entirety.

I'm excited about the possibilities! Imagine the depth and breadth of sound that we could hear from the biggest names out right now, both emcee and producer, if they had to truly collaborate instead of merely donate. Future and Metro Boomin', Drake and 40, J. Cole and...uh, whoever. Even Kendrick Lamar! It's documented on this blog that I'm no Kendrick fan but I readily admit that Kendrick knows how to put together a damn album - no pun. So what sort of spectacle would Kendrick Lamar create if he had only 1 producer to bring his album vision to life! How would they push each other, feed off of each other?

But don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the many chefs that once contributed to the soup of an album. And irregardless [sic] if a lot of chefs didn't spoil the soup, how much better could the soup have been with only 1 chef stirring the pot?

Shout out to DJ Charlie
  1. How Nas' Illmatic Ruined Hip Hop
Disclaimer: Steve is an employee of Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner, however the views expressed in this post are of my own.

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