The song where Jay-Z confessed to cheating on Beyonce
(Credit: Mikamote)

Old School Archives

The song where Jay-Z confessed to cheating on Beyonce

Jay-Z‘s most recent solo studio album, 4:44, came at a time when the New York rapper was facing down a new downturn to his legacy. Despite still being one of the biggest names in hip hop, Hova hadn’t released a new album since Magna Carta Holy Grail four years prior.

That LP received mixed reviews, and in the time between, his wife Beyonce had released Lemonade, the revelatory album that brought some of the most personal details of the Carters’ private lives to the forefront of pop culture.

With its major themes of infidelity, Lemonade positioned Jay-Z in a way that we had never seen him before: insecure and philandering. The world’s biggest couple were not as sound as we had all previously thought, as songs like ‘Daddy Lessons’ and ‘Sorry’ made abundantly clear. For a few years, Jay-Z was a cultural punching bag as a means of penitence as to how he could possibly rationalise cheating on someone like Beyonce. The general consensus was that if you cheat of Beyonce, the problem probably isn’t with Beyonce.

4:44 isn’t explicitly a response to Lemonade, as Jay-Z covers other topics beyond his family life. However, the major pull of the album was in hearing how he would take on the public allegations and new public image that had befallen him. Littered throughout the album’s tracks are references to Lemonade‘s lyrics and real life events that surrounded the couple’s relationship at the time. This included the notorious elevator fight with his sister-in-law Solange on the track ‘Kill Jay Z’ and the second reference of “Becky with the good hair” on ‘Family Feud’.

But it’s on the album’s title track that Jay-Z get’s his most honest and reflective. The emotional centerpiece to the album, ‘4:44’ is a nearly five minute full length apology to Beyonce and his family for the pain he has put them through: “Look, I apologize, often womanize / Took for my child to be born / See through a woman’s eyes / Took for these natural twins to believe in miracles / Took me too long for this song/ I don’t deserve you.” He even directly mentions his and Beyonce’s child, Blue Ivy Carter, in the song’s lyrics.

“And if my children knew, I don’t even know what I would do

If they ain’t look at me the same

I would prob’ly die with all the shame

‘You did what with who?’

What good is a ménage à trois when you have a soulmate?

‘You risked that for Blue?'”

He even goes so far as the blame himself for Beyonce’s miscarriage, which came to light after the release of her album 4. “I’ve seen the innocence leave your eyes / I still mourn this death, I apologize for all the stillborns / ‘Cause I wasn’t present, your body wouldn’t accept it”.

All in all, ‘4:44′ is the most insightful look that we might ever get to the Carters’ marriage, and it remains a brutally honest portrait of a flawed person’s desperate reckoning with his mistakes.