By now if any of us have been anywhere near social media in the past week we have come across some post, discussion, video etc. that was in relation to Jay-Z’s most recently released album titled 4:44. Many are putting forward their various views about why this album has been critically acclaimed. Some have said it’s because of masterful word play and some are saying it’s the soulful production by producer NO I.D. I would like to take this chance to add my two cents to this discussion or debate.
I believe that the success of this recent album and the impact it is having on many can be found in the principle of, “Self-Improvement” Yes, “Self-Improvement!” This does not take away from his lyrical prowess, the soulful production nor the marketing genius that was used as all of that aided the work that brother has done on himself. If we look at artists, leaders, politicians and others who have been able to impact millions, one common trend we will see is that they have confronted their shortcomings, past hurts, have begun to heal and as a result they have reached a level of transparency.
Evidence of the work on self that has contributed to the success of this album is evident in the opening track called, “Kill Jay-Z”. Many who are not familiar with how Jay-Z cleverly uses his lyrics miss the profound principles he is dealing with in this track. In an interview Jay-Z said the following about the song Kill Jay-Z, “The first song is called ‘Kill Jay Z’ and obviously, it’s not to be taken literally. It’s really about the ego. It’s about killing off the ego, so we can have this conversation in a place of vulnerability and honesty.” If we listen to the song we are listening to him share the battles of thoughts that have taken place within. As you see in his quote he said it’s about killing Jay-Z, which is the alter ego which almost ruined his marriage with his wife.
“You almost went Eric Benét, Let the baddest girl in the world get away…”
He also talked about how his ego is what caused him to antagonize his sister-in-law, Solange which led to the fight captured by the security video in the elevator:
“You egged Solange on, Knowin’ all along, all you had to say you was wrong…”
Then he shares how he knows how he must IMPROVE if he wants to be a better father for his daughter.
“And you know better, ni**a, I know you do. But you gotta do better, boy, you owe it to Blue.”
Jay-Z also talks about an issue that still plagues Black males today and its impact; that issue is growing up without a father. Jay-Z says:
“You had no father, you had the armor. But you got a daughter, gotta get softer.”
Personally, I believe that the absence of a father in the lives of young Black males is one of the leading causes to this violence we are trying to end.
I am not writing this blog entry to go over every bar in the song. You can do that for yourself. I am instead trying to use a historic Hip-Hop icon’s participation in a process that I believe Allah has revealed through the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. It is a process, if followed that will help all who use it discover, cultivate and manifest their Divine Potential. That process is the act of self-improvement. If we carefully listen to the tracks on 4:44 we will see that Jay-Z used every principle we are asked to use by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in the Self Improvement Study Guides. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan writes:
“Each study session is designed on the guidance of Allah to produce: self-examination; self-analysis; self-correction; and, to quicken in each of us, the self-accusing spirit. For, it is only when we are awakened morally that we have to face the self-accusing spirit which leads to our resurrection.”
Brother has entered into this space. Does that mean he has made it? Emphatically not, nor have we for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan goes further to say:
“Resurrection is that process that begins with the self-accusing spirit and does not end until we become one in perfect harmony or peace with Allah and His Creation.”
I say that Jay-Z has entered into this space because of what he says in the beginning and the ending of this song Kill Jay Z. He says:
“Die Jay-Z, this ain’t back in the days…”
He is acknowledging that the EGO must die. It’s nothing like the personal hell we experience which was caused by the EGO, that will get us to that realization, if we are Humble.
As you read this blog entry I would like for you to ask yourself, “What is my ego preventing me from experiencing when it comes to manifesting my Divine potential?” Why wouldn’t you (we) bump this CD by Jay-Z and strive to use it as another inspiration for us to engage in the jihad against the weakness of ourselves. We can never grow into our godhood if we do not kill the ego. I heard Iyanla Vanzant say, “Ego stands for edging God out!”
Let’s not “Eric Benet” the opportunity to become one with God again! I look forward to seeing you on Friday during our Self-Improvement discussion circles that are held at your nearest mosque or study group! Let’s come equipped and be ready to deal with our own, “Goddamn ego” as passionately expressed by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan!
(Willie Muhammad serves as the Student Minister at Muhammad Mosque No. 46 in New Orleans. Follow him on Twitter @BroWM46 and Instagram. Visit the official New Orleans mosque website @ noineworleans.org)