Known for being fiercely private, fans were stunned by Jay-Z's decision to address the infidelity claims Beyonce laid bare on her visual album Lemonade on his new record, 4:44. It has now emerged that the project, heralded as his most mature and honest in years, was signed off by his wife.
According to producer No I.D., the 35-year-old songstress was directly involved with the entire 10-track project and nothing was released without her approval.
"I always call Bey our de facto A&R (Artists and Repertoire)," he told The New York Times. "Pillow talk is the strongest conversation on the planet. Every song has to get past her ears, in my eyes. She came by a lot and played a good part in helping us get over hurdles on certain records. Of course, she's genius-level with that."
A remorseful Jay-Z lifts the lid on his extramarital dalliances during opening number Kill Jay-Z by comparing himself to Eric Benet, who famously had affairs while married to actress Halle.
The 47-year-old music mogul raps the lines: "You almost went Eric Benet/Let the baddest girl in the world get away."
He goes on to self-chastise for his part in the near collapse of their marriage, which had been widely considered "relationship goals" until cracks started to show in 2014, when Beyonce's sister, Solange, attacked him in a lift after the Met Gala. "Yeah I'll f**k up a good thing if you let me/Let me alone Becky," he raps.
No I.D. reveals that 4.44 was the Empire State Of Mind hitmaker's atonement for his sins: "There's a difference in talking about it for the sake of response and for the sake of honesty and the truth. The truth needs to explain why you are the way you are, why you did what you did. We know what happened. We got it. But what were the circumstances that led to this and how do you feel about it?"
Although the record touches on Jay-Z's marital woes, No I.D. said that it was important for him that the entire record wasn't a Lemonade response. He also gets frank about his own insecurities, offers his opinion on the new generation of rappers, and also gives financial advice.
"We just wanted him to respond and then let it be and still touch on other things. I created that beat to box him into telling that story," No I.D. said.