For Our Consideration: Becky, Kanye, and Bey: JAY-Z’s 4:44 is an event album worthy of the name

Every JAY-Z album since 2003 has been an event. There was the retirement saga of The Black Album, then the comeback of Kingdom Come; the surprise film-inspired return to form of American Gangster and then the overwrought, trilogy-concluding Blueprint 3. Watch The Throne and Magna Carta Holy Grail both felt like transmissions from deep within some golden Illuminati cave, with Hova casually obsessing over Rothkos and wine that costs more than your mortgage.

And so the new 4:44 arrives with all the baggage of being another weighty, “post-retirement” JAY-Z release, discussed in pre-release missives using the same terms as Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods; it is, after all, only available via cellphone carrier Sprint and Hov’s reportedly slow-moving streaming music service, Tidal. But now that it’s out, it’s an event for a much different reason: It’s fucking good. At 10 tracks and 36 minutes …

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