Jay-Z is getting even more candid—and this time he’s bringing famous friends along for the ride, too.
On Monday, the rapper released a second episode of his documentary series, Footnotes for 4:44, featuring him and the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Chris Rock, Will Smith, Mahershala Ali and Jesse Williams talking about relationships and fidelity.
“This is my real life. I just ran into this place and we built this big, beautiful mansion of a relationship that wasn’t totally built on the 100 percent truth and it starts cracking,” Jay-Z said in the 11-minute video. “Things start happening that the public can see. Then we had to get to a point of ‘OK, tear this down and let’s start from the beginning—and it’s hard…I’m telling you, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Most humans…we’re not willing to put ourselves through that. Most people give up.”
Footnotes, available exclusively on Jay-Z’s music streaming service Tidal, is the visual follow-up to the artist’s latest album, 4:44, which dropped on June 30. The series’s first episode, “The Story of O.J.,” discussed race issues in the U.S. and also featured Lamar, Smith and Ali.
But while the 4:44 project is an impressive body of work;, the album has also been deemed the response the Beyhive has been waiting for since Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade sparked rumours that Jay had stepped out on her.
Indeed, the alleged apology track “4:44″—which name drops Becky, BTW—is straight musical fire. The lyricism of the song is truly poetic, regardless of whose side you’re on.
Along with mentioning Blue Ivy and the the twins, Jay-Z offers up some regrets: “I apologize, often womanize / Took for my child to be born / See through a woman’s eyes / Took for these natural twins to believe in miracles / Took me too long for this song / I don’t deserve you.”
Later in the song, he goes on to say, “I will probably die with all the shame / You did what with who? / What good is a ménage-a-trois when you have a soulmate? / You risked that for Blue? / If I wasn’t a superhero in your face / My heart breaks for the day I have to explain my mistakes / And the mask goes away.”
That definitely seems like a pretty clear-cut apology to us—and we’re not the only ones.
Me tryna vibe to Jay Z album but him cheating on Beyoncé keeps popping in my head pic.twitter.com/k5RrH5EMtt
— (@xxMERE) June 30, 2017
the beyhive when they heard jay z admit to cheating on beyoncé on 4:44 pic.twitter.com/B5xLvh62qk
— breanna. (@brexpk) June 30, 2017
I thought Beyoncé was lying about Jay Z on cheating on Lemonade but he came out and said he did pic.twitter.com/B2tvSKn5xW
— j (@JUSTlNW) June 30, 2017
Aside from addressing infidelity, Jay-Z also raps about culture, racial tension, fatherhood and sexuality on the new album.
On “Smile,” he acknowledges his mom’s homosexuality for the first time ever, demonstrating his steadfast acceptance: “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.” The track also features a monologue from his mom, describing her pain of not being able to live authentically.
And “Moonlight” is an ode to this year’s Oscars mishap, when La La Land was wrongly named Best Picture winner. He raps, “We stuck in La La Land / Even if we win, we gonna lose.” He explained to iHeartRadio that “it’s really a commentary on the culture and where we’re going.”
To put it simply, 4:44 and Footnotes for 4:44 offer a lot more than just a masterful, musical apology. Both the album and the videos have important messages—and the hard, humbling work inherent to overcoming marital dramz is only one of them.
Well played, Mr. Carter.