All self-proclaimed hip-hop heads have had the inevitable Top 5 conversation. You may have been rolling up, smoking, at the barbershop, hair salon or possibly sipping something nice. I think it’s safe to say that Shawn Carter has landed a top spot with most who’ve participated in the convo, with the classic Reasonable Doubt sealing the deal for the man who’s own wife affectionately calls Jay-Z.
What can I say about Hov or rather what can’t I say about him? I mean after all; men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t. On top of that he’s married to BEYONCE- nuff said. His accolades speak for themselves and I think it’s safe to say that he’s made his mark in the world, if I might, his LEGACY. Oh what a segue into this light I’m about to lead you to!
One might ask, ok we love Jay, but how does he fit into this Brown Girl Alchemy love and light that you’re spreading? Well, let’s talk about this 444, which I personally proclaim as another classic (not up for debate). Let me digress for a minute and take you back to Reasonable Doubt; cooking up that white Jay-Z, baggie jeans and white tees Jay-Z, V8 Range and icey Jay-Z, poppin Cristal- “Y'all be chasin', I replace them” Jay-Z. Let’s call him unevolved Jay-Z; a product of Marcy projects who put his life story on wax and blinded us with his truth, a truth that would brazenly earn its place as a classic and catapult the god into an upward ascension with his latest stop being The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. First Hip Hop artist to earn such a status, I guess this spiritual sh*t really works. Unevolved he was, but his authenticity is what etched his footprints into a timeline of greatness that hasn’t slowed down. LESSON- When one lives authentically or in their truth, greatness is revealed and prevails. He was on a path, some call it destiny..
There were 12 studio albums created prior to 444 and right before our eyes we were witnessing the awakening. We watched him remove his chains of bondage literally and figuratively. He influenced all the block boys to get rid of the jerseys and get their grown man on with some button downs. And as private as they tried to be, we watched him court and marry his soulmate, Queen/King Bey. Then the ultimate test of manhood; Hov gained another title as daddy. When a man begins to see the world through his daughter’s eyes, things that appear cloudy suddenly become clearer. There were plenty of other lessons in the midst of those majors, they were most likely just as important, but right now I’m going to focus on the end result of number 13, 444.
You see, how could I not fall in love with a piece of work that is a reflection of growth, awareness, accountability, forgiveness, spirituality, economic responsibility, love and as if that wasn’t enough, ALCHEMY! Word to Hov, I felt as if he were a fly on the wall during my multitude of conversations with various folk speaking about so many of us not having the tools to compete and win at this game called Life or relationships; the focus on materialism and consumerism vs. real wealth and legacies. I could go on and on about how much this black woman connected with this black man on so many levels through this particular work of art.
And then I realized why: Hov is the Archetype of that very old cliché, good girls love bad boys. A perfectly imperfect amalgamation of hood and intellect with all of the ingredients to make a not-so-perfect love story, but as Bey said it best, who wants that perfect love story anyway? 444 represents the state of being WOKE, as in I’ve lived and I’ve learned. It reflects Hov's present truth and once again authenticity wins. “Cry Jay Z, we know the pain is real but you can't heal what you never reveal”, this one line can arguably sum up the whole album. The toughest lessons become blessings. I get it that not everyone is on this part of the journey, but we’re all on the same path, so why not embrace someone who’s willing to reveal and expose the error of their ways so that you too might avoid those hard earned lessons. I felt hopeful for my black men, the ones who weren’t given the tools, that maybe, just maybe they’ll begin to understand that “this spiritual sh*t really works”.
444 is a the bonus chapter of a novel that you thought had a pretty good ending and then you’re hit with a couple of blank pages and then BOOM, wait a minute, OMG they gave us another chapter. Did I mention that it’s a classic? I didn’t just drink Lemonade, I devoured it and it thoroughly quenched my thirst, but now I am realizing that it tastes even better chased with that D'usse.