Jay-Z is set to release a new album later this month. This will be his first album since Magna Carta Holy Grail in 2013. Which seems like a long time for an artist to go without an album. But this is Jay-Z and he has a ton of other projects on the go. Including: launching a venture capital fund to invest in start-ups, producing films and documentary series, and sold part of Tidal to Sprint. In addition, Jay-Z released a song last year titled “Spiritual” which was in response to police brutality. He’s also appeared on several tracks in the last few months. Not to mention the recent addition to his family. I don’t want to downplay all that he’s done over the last couple of years, but I do want to focus on his new album.
First of all, the album is set to be released on June 30. What’s interesting about this is that the album will be exclusively released through Tidal. Why? Well, with Jay-Z as the owner of the company, it kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? But this isn’t a new concept for Jay-Z. In 2013, his album was released to one million Galaxy owners as part of a deal with Samsung. What is even more interesting is that this release will be a first for his new partner Sprint. Sprint acquired 33% of Tidal earlier this year.
All of this is really interesting, yes, but let’s talk about the album itself. Jay-Z started teasing the album through a series of billboards in New York and Los Angeles. In addition, he released a short “film” which featured Mahershala Ali, Lupita Nyong’o and Danny Glover. Which gives us reason to speculate that perhaps this album, like Beyonce’s Lemonade will have more of a visual component. In the video released, Ali plays the role of a boxer and we hear the lyrics: “letters to my Dad that I never wrote, speeches I prepared that I never spoke, words on a paper that I never read.” Which is very deep, and appears introspective. I can only speculate on that, however, but given some other things Jay-Z has going on in his life right now, it seems plausible.
It’s unclear as to what will be in Jay-Z’s new album, but based on what he’s been doing, I think it will have a lot of meaning. Which is a bit different than what we are used to from Jay-Z. There is a lot of crazy, effed up stuff happening in America right now. I don’t want to generalize or appear flippant in anyway because it’s serious stuff. These issues are serious, and people need to take them seriously. I think that we might see some of that from Jay-Z in this upcoming album. After all, Spiritual was written in response to cases of police brutality. That was released last year. We still live in a world where police brutality is a fact. These awful things are still happening. Perhaps this album will ignite a spark in people to take action?
I can feel the wheels turning in my head, urging me to go on a rant about justice, or the lack thereof. To rant about injustice and how the system fails so many people. How social justice only favours certain demographics. But I won’t. I will say that I think Jay-Z is taking a more social approach to his music. I think that he’s trying to highlight the injustices as a way to get people to understand. He has a wide audience. A wide reach. And the only way to educate is to put the ideas out in a way that people understand.
I also am looking forward to the album and the “films” associated with the album. Will it be as much of a social justice piece as I am painting it? Or am I reading too much into the billboards and the lyrics? I tend to over analyze, but on occasion my analysis turns out to be accurate. If that is the case, will more artists come forward from a similar perspective? And will this have any impact on the cause itself? Like I’ve said in previous posts. Only time will tell, but I’m interested in how this plays out. All that being said, if you’re a Sprint customer, you can get a free 6 month subscription to Tidal, and listen to the album when it comes out in a little over a week!