Revisiting Jay-Z’s 4:44 Album

A Reflection of Black Love in the Age of Premeditated Violence

I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they’re looting, if you see a white family, it says they’re looking for food. ~Kayne West

4:44 is the thirteenth studio album by American rapper Jay-Z. It was released in 2017 and featured a song titled “Family Feud” which featured Beyoncé. It was this track that infused a new sense of direction into my soul concerning the importance of Black love. As Spiritual Masters in the domain of “Black Aesthetics” I had to take a deeper look at the Philosophy Jay Z and Beyoncé were proposing to our community.

Although, the backdrop for Jay Z’s “Family Feud” song came on the hills of his scrimmage with Solange concerning her disagreement with his flirtatious ways as it pertains to the respect of Queen Beyoncé. Yet, it spoke to a deeper course of action concerning the creative forces that surrounds what W.E.B Du Bois calls “The Souls of Black Folks”. In every Black Marriage there are creative forces that are at play that have been aligned to function in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to the universe.

The photo of Jay Z and Beyoncé` taking a selfie in front of the “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre in Paris is more than just a well to do black power couple that could afford to rent out the Louvre and get a glimpse of inspiration. The inspirational photo reeks of a “Creative Surrealism” that must be captured in every black relationship. Ideally, families will feud at times because that’s just the nature of life and how humans interact with one another.

In Verse 1 of Jay-Z’s song “Family Feud” it says… Super Bowl goals/ My wife in the crib feedin’ the kids liquid gold/ We in a whole different mode/ The kid that used to pitch bricks can’t be pigeonholed/ I cooked up more chicken when the kitchen closed/ Uh, we gon’ reach a billion’ first/ I told my wife the spiritual shit really works… Whether you could catch Jay Z’s mental transformation in those few words or not; he is however pointing to a very strong concept concerning the black relationships.

There is a cleansing process that “Black Love” must go through in order to obtain a new level of understanding concerning Service and a deeper commitment to the black community. Solange’s outrage in the elevator that obviously shouldn’t have been leaked, but it was a gentle reminder to Jay Z of his commitment to their family and denial of sense consciousness.

Sense consciousness is the material nature of the human soul or judgements based on external appearances. Anything that would lead a black man to destroy aspects of the black family structure needs to be dealt with. As the 4:44 Video suggests as directed by Ava Duvernay, their needs to be a council that aids in the formulation of new ideas surrounding the future of Black Life within the social construct of community.

The star power concerning “Family Feud” is treacherous and showcases the important nature of dealing with conflict in “Black Social Structures”. Appearances from Beyoncé, Michael B. Jordan, Constance Wu, Rashida Jones, and Rosario Dawson just to name a few adds credibility to the visionary stance surrounding Black Love. As Jay Z posits “We all Screwed because we never had the tools”.

The Black man as it relates to relationships should be more patient. Having been in multiple relationships myself it quickly becoming apparent that these cycles of destruction in the black family must be broken.

In my estimation, a black man should seek to settle down and or become married, between the ages of 35–45. It’s in this 10-year window that he will have had an awakening to the importance of relationships in the bigger purpose of his existence. What immediately comes to mind as an afterthought is Alston Anderson’s short story “The Checkerboard”; which highlights concerns for the black family which is told from multiple viewpoints.

Alston Anderson touch’s on Jay z’s point about not having the mental tools to manage the emotional construct of Black Love or relationships. So, the short story concerning Checkerboard is metaphorical for the black family dynamic surrounding patterns, arrangements, and alternating colors. “The Checkerboard” also touches on “Home cooked dinners, saying grace around the table, passing the salt, and food dishes, family dynamics, mother and father rifts; cold stares, love, porch lights, the kitchen, games, Jesus and dialogue”.

In other words, “Black Love in the Age of Premeditated Violence” must include a new sensibility towards the appreciation and realization of our potential and possibility as light bringers. We must see Black Love as a creative “Speech Act” where we are declaring a new future through our actions.

Jay Z didn’t have to include the song “Family Feud” on his album 4:44, as he could have simply professed his wrong doings to Beyoncé and corrected his faults privately. Yet, he felt it was necessary to explain the importance of apologizing for his mishaps and in the same breath declaring a new future state “Uh, we gon’ reach a billion’ first”.

Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash

Whatever your creative lane is make sure that you can see your Art form as a means for teaching important lessons to your community. Black Love can last and can serve as an important center of creative thought for the advancement of black love. We must be able to Breast feed the generations to come “Liquid Gold”. Not in terms of milk as referred to Jay and Beyoncé’s twins but a level of spiritual nourishment that helps to keep our communities intact for centuries to come. Put all of our differences aside and make sure that we can come together for the greater good of the black experience.

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