During the most recent stop on his 4:44 tour, HOV paid tribute to Meek Mill by calling out his unjust imprisonment and performing his hit track “Dreams and Nightmares (Intro).” While performing in Meek's hometown of Philadelphia on Friday, Jay told the crowd, “That man is being stomped by the system. That man is in jail for doing wheelies and breaking up a fight.”
Many fans in attendance, in addition to Trey Songz and Yo Gotti, were seen sporting “Free Meek” merch at the Wells Fargo center Friday night. Jay added “Free Meek” before playing the same intro he performed alongside the Philly native during Made in America in September. Similar to the crowd's reaction when Meek surprisingly joined Jay on stage, the Philly concertgoers lost it when Jay brought out the intro to Dreams and Nightmares.
A post shared by Lil Nizzy – GLOWING (@lilnizzyd4s) on Dec 1, 2017 at 10:01pm PST
During his show at the Wells Fargo Center, Jay reminded the crowd of how Colin Kaepernick shed light on the racist institutions that continue to target people of color. “That shit is not about inanimate objects. It’s about people dying. It’s about young people leaving their house and never coming back home. And it’s not a black and white issue. It’s a human issue. Everybody should be fighting that.” HOV has been very vocal about his opinion regarding Meek's imprisonment. In an op-ed he wrote in the New York Times, Jay wrote about the unjust racial prejudices that prompted Meek's sentencing.
Despite Drake and Meek Mill's long history of beef, the Canadian rapper gave Meek Mill a shout out while performing in Melbourne, Australia on Saturday. While engaging with the crowd during a break in his performance, Drake spotted a fan wearing a “Free Meek Mill” t-shirt, to which he commented, “Free Meek Mill too. You right.”
Meek, who is serving out a seemingly unjust prison sentence for violating his probation, has a long history with Aubrey. After accusing Drake of failing to write his own music, the two went back and forth calling each other out for months. The Philly-native inspired Drake to clap back by releasing “Back to Back” in which he notoriously calls out Meek for piggy-backing on his (now) ex-boo Nicki Minaj's fame.
With all that behind them, Drake joins the numerous rappers who have shown support for Meek Mill as he serves a sentence many believe he doesn't deserve. In a New York Times op-ed, Jay Z explained that Meek's sentence is another example of the racial injustices that dictate the American criminal justice system. “What’s happening to Meek Mill is just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day,” HOV wrote. Earlier this week, a large crowd gathered in Philly to show support for the Wins & Losses rapper, and both Rick Ross and PnB Rock were in attendance.
It's too soon to tell whether or not this shout out officially concludes the Drake/Meek Mill beef. However Drizzy does appear to be prioritizing calling out racist institutions, over upholding some petty drama.
Well, this one was. It's partly my own fault; I've had the album on repeat since it dropped, and being armed with knowledge of Jay's history, from actual stabbings to legendary friendships, there are some moments on 4:44 that might be getting overlooked. Or, at the very least, haven't been highlighted by many as of yet. In an effort to make those who might not have ran this one back a number of times, here's a look at some things you might have missed on your first listen through Jay Z's 4:44.
Jay recalling the stabbing of Lance “Un” Rivera
On the opening track, “Kill Jay Z,” Jay touched on his issues with Kanye West and also brought up the time he stabbed Lance “Un” Rivera at the Kit Kat Klub in New York City in December of 1999 over allegations that Rivera had been bootlegging Vol. 3.
You got a knot in your chest, imagine how a knife hurts
You stabbed Un over some records
Your excuse was “He was talkin' too reckless!”
Jay ultimately plead guilty to the assault charges he was facing, and received three years probation, but to hear Cam'ron tell it, the incident wasn't over bootlegging music: it was over Undeas Entertainment's Charlie Baltimore, to whom Jay is said to have had a thing for.
Revealing that his mother is a lesbian
For what appears to be the first time in history, Jay Z rapped about his mother's sexuality on “Smile,” which also features a spoken word outro from his mother, Gloria Carter.
Mama had four kids, but she's a lesbian
Had to pretend so long that she's a thespian
Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate
Society shame and the pain was too much to take
Cried tears of joy when you fell in love
Don't matter to me if it's a him or her
I just wanna see you smile through all the hate
This isn't the first time Jay has supported the LGBTQ community; he applauded his friend President Obama's stance on same-sex marriage back in 2012.
Subtly referencing his past issues with Funkmaster Flex
Also on “Smile” was the following line that could be looked at as a reference to Hot 97's own Funkmaster Flex: “This is Hov, no flex zone, nigga, who lied to you?” While many of us will remember how hard Flex has ridden for Hov over the years, back in 2015 their relationship hit a speed bump when Flex started calling Jay's Life+Times blog “trash.” This was due to Flex's feelings about the Life+Times app, which he says was essentially taken from information he gave to them about the Flex app that apparently ended up in their app.
The radio rant sparked the now-infamous and alleged “This is HOV” text to Flex, which Flex then posted on Instagram.
A post shared by FunkFlex (@funkflex) on Jan 16, 2015 at 7:17pm PST
A month later, Flex said if Jay was past the beef, he would be past the beef, but this is also Jay's first album since Flex went on that rant. Maybe he was just saving up one line until he was good and ready to address it.
Sending shots at Al Sharpton's gym selfies
Most Jay Z theorists assume that he'd been working on what became 4:44 since late 2016, but judging by this pair of lines on “Family Feud,” he must have been working on it down to the wire, as he found a way to include Al Sharpton's viral gym selfies that hit a little over a week ago (week ago).
Al Sharpton in the mirror takin' selfies
How is him or Pill Cosby s'posed to help me?
You read that right; Hov also found a way to throw some shade at Bill Cosby by calling him “Pill,” which is a reference to the sexual assault allegations Cosby's been dealing with.
Sticking up for his friend Prince
On the Frank Ocean-assisted “Caught Their Eyes,” Jay took most of the second verse to speak out against Londell McMillain, the lawyer who was formerly handling Prince's estate.
I sat down with Prince, eye to eye
He told me his wishes before he died
Now, Londell McMillan, he must be color blind
They only see green from them purple eyes
These bars were more than likely a result of the lawsuit that Prince's estate filed against Tidal in November of 2016 over the streaming rights to Prince's music. Jay wasn't done there, though.
This guy had 'Slave' on his face
You think he wanted the masters with his masters?
You greedy bastards sold tickets to walk through his house
I'm surprised you ain't auction off the casket
Hov was not only referring to Prince's historic battle for his masters from Warner Bros. (who released a deluxe edition of Purple Rain with the blessing of Prince's estate just last week) and the actual tours people can buy tickets for through Prince's private estate, Paisley Park.
Oh Marcy, Marcy me
Just the way I am always gonna be
I ain't gonna change, no
Marcy, Marcy me, just the way I am
Possibly hinting at the future addition of 4:44 to Apple Music
One of 4:44's standouts is “The Story of O.J.,” which finds Hov questioning the value of a dollar, especially to artists, people of color, and anyone growing up in the hood. Essentially, Hov ties up his role in the music business right now: “I'm tryin' to give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99.” Now, sure, a Tidal subscription goes for a cool $9.99, but so does one of Tidal's competitors, Apple Music. Was this Hov slyly informing the world that 4:44would be hitting non-Tidal services in the future?