Jay-Z Offers an Unseen Perspective on Black Relationships in "Footnotes for 4:44"
By: Phelicia Ball
Hopefully by now you’ve listened to Jay-Z’s thirteenth studio album 4:44. If you haven’t, you can find the album on Tidal, as well as Apple Music. Don’t have an account? Try Tidal out for free with a 30-day trial.
Along with releasing the album, Jay-Z has recently released a footnotes video on Tidal, allowing listeners to get a little more context behind the overall concept of the album, including commentary from Will Smith, Kendrick Lamar, Michael B. Jordan, and more.
To sum up the video, and as an attempt to avoid any spoilers, Jay-Z and several artists, as well as industry nobles discuss the historical challenges with relationships between Black men and women. These men are being tasked with dissecting their relationships. I’m sure you’re all wondering if Jay-Z gives a little insight into his own relationship with Beyoncé. And yes, for all of us nosey fans, he does. He first mentions that when he met his dad he was, “free to love now”. However, he contemplated and asked himself, “But how are you going to do it?”. The word “love” is something that can of course be thrown around too loosely and surely taken for granted; it’s something that will not always be sweet and feelings of wanting to give up will most likely arise.
Do we in fact have the tools to love, as Black men and women? Jay-Z honestly and wholeheartedly confesses that Beyoncé and himself, “built this beautiful mansion of a relationship that wasn’t totally built on 100% truth; and then it starts cracking and things start happening that the public can see”. He discusses the true difficulty with relationships, emphasizing that it’s the hardest thing that he’s done and sadly, most people do give up.
In the 11-minute video, Meek Mill gives a great perspective on the ways in which we are taught to love, or more so, not taught how to love. He explains that in the environments that we grow up in, cops are taking Blacks to jail, our fathers are in prison, and so the only person Blacks are sometimes taught to love is their mothers.
"Footnotes for 4:44” delivers an unseen perspective on the trials and tribulations of Black relationships. Black relationships are complicated because of our history, what we’re taught in the media and society and all of the learnt behavior that is now instilled in our minds.
Black men have been exposed to bad ideas about Black women; that we’re too loud, too aggressive and too strong to take care of. Due to a historical inability to protect Black women, relationships between Black men and women have become thoroughly complicated and “Footnotes for 4:44” gives a great 11-minute perspective on this and more—from honest Black men. Society will break us down in any way that it can, but we have to understand the true importance of any relationship, whether it’s familial, relationships amongst friends, or with our partners. We have to seize the willingness to fight for things, even when they become complicated.