For years Brooklyn rapper Jay-Z and his wife, superstar Beyoncé Knowles have maintained an untarnished image and, as a power couple, have managed to sustain an alluring mystique concerning their romance and family life. Unlike many other celebrity households, the Carters have been unwavering regarding privacy and, as such, have successfully maintained a level of public intrigue without doing much.
Akin to the British royals, the Carters’ de facto response to controversy, rumours and speculation surrounding them is to do nothing. Neither Jay-Z nor Beyoncé actively use social media to share their opinions and rarely speak about each other. Furthermore, until recently, there was an assumption that their relationship was practically perfect. However, this all came crashing down in 2014.
Annually, pop culture magazines and media outlets turn their heads to The Met Gala. This annual event sees the world’s most prestigious icons and celebrities celebrate fashion at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art for what is considered a luxury fundraising gala. However, the 2014 Met Gala saw an altercation that stunned the world. Jay-Z and Beyoncé were attendees of the event, as was Beyoncé’s sister Solange Knowles. However, a shocking incident occurred while the group was leaving The Standard Hotel in Manhattan.
Following the Gala, CCTV Footage was leaked from the hotel’s elevator camera that showed Beyoncé’s sister attacking Jay-Z, hitting him and attempting to kick him in the crotch multiple times. In this moment, as fans got a glimpse of the couple behind the scenes, their immaculate and carefully cultivated image of stability and peace crumbled into a heap of falsehoods and dysfunction. Beyoncé was present in the elevator but did not attempt to intervene. Neither Jay-Z nor Solange commented on the situation during its aftermath. However, the musicians did later respond but did so through their music.
In 2017, Jay-Z released his critically acclaimed 4:44. The project was highly conscious and saw an unfathomable amount of political and personal commentary from the Brooklyn emcee (real name Shawn Carter). For 4:44, Jay looked inward and spoke on a range of topics ranging from his experiences concerning racism, marital issues, and he even decided to address the intense exchange he had had with his sister-in-law Solange three years prior. Produced by Chicago beatmaker No I.D., ‘Kill’ is one of the most hard-hitting and introspective tracks from 4:44. Speaking with iHeart Radio, Carter elaborated on the song’s meaning, explaining, “Obviously, it’s not to be taken literal. It’s really about the ego. It’s about killing off the ego, so we can have this conversation in a place of vulnerability and honesty.”
Referencing the elevator incident about Beyoncé, Carter rapped, “You egged Solange on / Knowin’ all along, all you had to say you was wrong.” However, this line was in response to a lyric his wife sang on her 2014 track ‘Flawless’ where Knowles vocalises, “We escalate, up in this bitch like elevators, of course sometime sh*t go down when there’s a billion dollars on an elevator.”
Following the release of 4:44, Jay-Z sat down with Rap Radar hosts Elliott Wilson and Brian Miller for an in-depth interview during which he addressed his ongoing relationship with Solange. Explaining his rapport with Solange, Carter explained, “We’ve always had a great relationship. We’ve had one disagreement. Before and after, we’ve been cool. That’s my sister. Not my sister-in-law, no, my sister. Period. I think we went into the elevator as great artists. I’ve always loved Solange’s music; I thought she was slept on until this last album. I think Bey made an incredible album before, a hundred of them.”
You can see the footage of Solange, Jay-Z and Beyoncé in the lift in the video below.