JAY-Z’s 4:44, is so much more than just another rap album. The 10-track, 36-minute effort finds the rapper baring his soul, letting listeners into the world he’s concealed for so long. Since its release, Hov has spent the past few weeks dissecting the different layers of his latest offering in his TIDAL series, Footnotes, addressing everything from racism and masculinity to relationship woes.
And in his first interview since the album’s release, JAY-Z recently sat down with Rap Radar Podcast host Elliott Wilson for part one of his two-part interviews that was released Friday (Aug. 18) to further unpack the messages of 4:44, discuss the album’s development process and address his feud with Kanye West.
Early on, he explained on 4:44 he wanted to recapture some of that creative magic artists possess early on.
“Just like from the beginning of someone’s career and making that sort of album that really means something — touches the culture like a touch point, moves conversation and just be really f—king good and sh-t — it’s, like, a hard thing to do because you’re so removed from where you were in the beginning,” he told the podcast hosts. “And I really had to like think about what I wanted to say on this album at the time, think about the next thing, what was the next thing that I wanted to say and I didn’t want to just make an album to just put out music, I wanted to be important.”
JAY-Z began to craft his 13th studio album at the top of 2017, on Jan. 3, beginning with 4:44‘s opening track “Kill Jay Z” and “The Story of OJ”, using “real-life” experiences that he was dealing with at that time as the cornerstone of the project.
“This album has a lot of topics that’s why it had to be so short, it’s so condensed,” he said. “It’s so dense with subject matters and all these other things that if it was longer, you wouldn’t be able to take it; it would wear you out. It had to get to a point really quickly and be as dense as it is and No I.D. what he’s doing with the samples, he’s playing samples like jazz improv. No one’s ever chopped records up the way those records are chopped up.”
The influential rapper used his 10-track effort to shed light on a slew of relevant topics from racism to black excellence and entrepreneurship, heard on tracks like “Legacy” and “Family Feud” and says his advice to the black community is nothing new since he’s “been trying to do that since the beginning.”
“If you listen to Reasonable Doubt, that’s there. Listen to The Black Album, listen to S. Carter mixtape, the first song that comes on is “Young, Gifted and Black.” So it’s been a constant in my career, not as concentrated and as prolonged not as a theme for an entire project but I’ve been doing that forever.”
Later, the subject of Jay’s lines about his “little brother” Kanye West on “Kill Jay Z” came up and the icon launched into conversation about better knowing his own self, as well as the persona; issues with his friend.
“It’s not even about Kanye, it really isn’t,” he said. “His name is there, just because it’s just the truth of what happened. But the whole point is ‘You got hurt because this person was talking about you on a stage.’ But what really hurt me was, you can’t bring my kids and my wife into it. Kanye’s my little brother. He’s talked about me 100 times. He made a song called ‘Big Brother.’ We’ve gotten past bigger issues. But you brought my family into it, now it’s a problem with me. That’s a real, real problem. And he knows it’s a problem.”
Apparently issues with JAY-Z came to a head for Kanye last year when he launched into multiple rants during concerts about Hova and his wife, Beyonce, and lamented the fact that their kids never played together.
“He knows that he crossed the line,” said JAY-Z. “I know him. He knows. I know he knows, because we’ve never let this much space go between one of our disagreements, and we’ve had many, because that’s who we are. That’s what I like about him. He’s an honest person, he’s open and he’ll say things and he’s wrong a lot of times and he’ll confront it.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Hov discusses the album’s creative rollout process, his stance on the Spotify vs. TIDAL riff and plenty more in the lengthy sit-down.
Watch JAY-Z’s full Rap Radar interview here.
This article was originally published on Billboard.com