Albums to watch




Album number thirteen from the New York hip hop giant produced by No I.D. and featuring guest appearances from Frank Ocean, Damian Marley and Beyoncé

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  1. 9.1 |   A.V. Club

    4:44 is captivating because it both upholds that version of himself and buckles beneath its weight
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  2. 9.1 |   AU Review

    In reality, 4:44 isn’t a Jay Z album, it’s a Shawn Carter album. And a bloody good one at that
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  3. 9.0 |   Clash

    It’s reality music, and while obviously tailored around the life and times of Shawn Carter, offers so many narratives that the common man can relate to in astounding measures
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  4. 9.0 |   PopMatters

    Already one of the greatest rappers in history, this is the kind of late-career artistic gem that will cement Jay-Z’s place on rap’s Mount Rushmore
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  5. 9.0 |   The 405

    4:44 presents a renewed Jay-Z
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  6. 8.4 |   Pitchfork

    This late-career gem is personal and diamond-sharp, confronting the failings and legacy of Shawn Carter and America
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  7. 8.4 |   Gig Soup

    JAY-Z has been selectively honest, so on his thirteenth studio album he welcomes his own vulnerability, greeting all those in his tabernacle with his most transparent project to date
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  8. 8.3 |   Pretty Much Amazing

    4:44 is just about the safest way Jay-Z could have re-asserted his dominance: smarter raps over soulful beats over a very concise runtime
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  9. 8.3 |   Consequence Of Sound

    Pushing 50, the world's biggest rapper refuses to conceal feelings or shirk responsibilities
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  10. 8.3 |   Earbuddy

    Jay-Z’s found something that works here with easily his best solo album in a decade
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  11. 8.0 |   Slant Magazine

    Adds up to an album that builds on the themes that he's pursued his whole life, all while finding new depth within them. It's one to remember him by
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  12. 8.0 |   All Music

    There are no radio play bids. Jay-Z has been in this mode at various points, but never in such concentrated, enlightened form
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  13. 8.0 |   Drowned In Sound

    While 4:44 may not be his greatest album, it is a much valued deviation from the norm, a surprising feat considering his kaleidoscopic catalog
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  14. 8.0 |   Exclaim

    A refreshing, full-circle moment for hip-hop lovers — and a true pleasure to hear
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  15. 8.0 |   Rolling Stone

    Vulnerable, apologetic and still dazzling on '4:44'
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  16. 8.0 |   The Observer

    Seasoned Jay-Z watchers might miss the rapper’s dense 90s flows, but most commercial hip-hop is now made up of easy couplets rather than internal patterns of assonance
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  17. 8.0 |   NME

    As a direct, firework-filled admission of past mistakes, ‘4:44’ couldn’t be more watertight
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  18. 7.8 |   Paste Magazine

    What makes 4:44 powerful is that Jay Z isn’t preaching from a gilded throne: He’s speaking from the position of someone who’s overcome numerous struggles and wants to give others the keys to do the same
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  19. 7.5 |   Spectrum Culture

    Before its release, the prevailing narrative was that Jay-Z couldn’t survive in the current climate anymore and should stay retired. With this set of songs, droves of listeners are happy to be proven wrong
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  20. 7.0 |   Crack

    The veteran producer provides warm beds of fractured soul, rugged percussion and boom-bap revivalism here.
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  21. 6.5 |   The Line Of Best Fit

    4:44 offers renewed hope for fans who, since Kingdom Come, have felt increasingly disenfranchised by Jay-Z’s loss of touch with his roots and apparent marginalisation of his rap career
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  22. 6.0 |   The Guardian

    A bracingly honest but conservative confessional
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  23. 6.0 |   NOW

    The rap star's 14th album works despite its flaws – and partly because of them
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  24. 6.0 |   Q

    Rap superstar delivers more than mere soap bubbles. Print edition only

  25. 5.4 |   Sputnik Music (staff)

    It sounds like what it is, a business leader for whom the personal proves troublingly difficult to connect with
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