JAY Z 4:44 | Grown People Music

National Blog Posting Month | Day 4

Last updated on November 9th, 2020 at 11:58 pm

Though I’ve listened toΒ plenty of rap since buying my first boombox in ’97, I’veΒ rarely heard anything representingΒ me. Sure, it’s largely Black music, but from a different narrative than my lifeΒ altogether. Middle-class. Raised in a two-parent home. Private school education, married with kidsβ€”nothing you’d want to hear about in the club. And though I foundΒ some kinship in Childish Gambino’s “Not Going Back” andΒ  Drake’s “You & The 6”, the struggle of growing up Black while lacking enough Blackness for your peers only reflectsΒ part of my identity. There’s so muchΒ more to my life!

NaBloPoMo Day 4 β€” Grown People Music β€” What I've Learned from JAY Z's 4-44 β€” Young Casey

But life isΒ full of surprises. You never knowΒ who’s going to create the work that speaks to your soul, and a former hustler from New York’s Marcy Projects would be theΒ last person I’d expect to understand me, but with his thirteenth albumΒ 4:44, I can tell you for aΒ fact that JAY ZΒ gets it. With topics like legacy, family and the constant pursuit of excellence, it’s an album speaking to everything I’m trying to build with my efforts here at the blog!

Let’s dive a little deeper.

4:44 β€” JAY Z’s FirstΒ True Foray into Grown People Music

“A man that don’t take of his family can’t be rich.”

— JAY Z, “Family Feud”,Β 4:44 (2017)

Before parenthood, I did a lot more for my sake. It feels like a distant memoryΒ now, but there was a time where my priorities were making money, hitting parties, and being the most popular kid in the room.

NaBloPoMo Day 4 β€” Grown People Music β€” What I've Learned from JAY Z's 4-44 β€” The Boys Licking Icing from Baking ToolsBut kids. Change.Β Everything. Kids give you aΒ reason to do things you wouldn’t typically want to do, and most people give upΒ everything to do it, bitter when it’s decades later, and the kids don’t appreciate the sacrifices their parents made for them.

God’s been looking out, though, making sure I can build a life reflecting many of the principles outlined inΒ 4:44β€”Black excellence. Black-owned business. Financial freedom and eschewing what’sΒ popular for whatΒ lasts. I haven’t had as much time as the Jigga Man to mull over what I’m putting into theΒ world, but I can understand thatΒ drive to leave a better world behind for one’sΒ kids. Moreso than anything I do as a Black man, blogger or the many roles I fill outside my family, myΒ singular focus is to build something for them thatΒ outlasts me.

Someday, We’re Gon’… Be Free.

Easter Weekend β€” de Bruyn Household β€” Casey and Son β€” Licking My First

You see, JAY Z’sΒ 4:44 is what I call “grown people music”β€”songs for adults who’ve embraced their responsibilities, looking toΒ be the best, so they’llΒ do the best for those who matterΒ most.

And Shawn Carter’s not perfectβ€”we see clear references to his infidelities, excesses and other mistakes onΒ 4:44β€”but who of us is? It’s the knowledge that we still need to provide as parentsβ€”flaws and allβ€”if we want to give our children better tomorrows than the lives we live today. I won’t always make the right choices and my kids won’t always like me, but as long as I’m committed to this goal no matter what… I think we’ll figure it out.

Pay it Forward.

“Legacy, legacy, legacy, legacy.
Black excellence, babyβ€”you gon’ let ’em see
Legacy, legacy, legacy, legacy.
Black excellency, baby let ’em see.”

— JAY Z, “Legacy”Β 4:44 (2017)

Greatness doesn’t develop overnight. Much of the inequity Black America faces today comes from their opportunityΒ for intergenerational growth being snatched away by severalΒ factors.

NaBloPoMo Day 4 β€” Grown People Music β€” What I've Learned from JAY Z's 4-44 β€” Carrying My Sons

Me, IΒ barely knew either of my biological grandfathers, and they dan sure didn’t leave my parents anything, but Mom and Dad scraped and scratched ’til they had something of note, and now it’s my turn to do the same. My parents gave me a leg up to shape my life by making sure I was Canadian-born, educated and marketable. They worked hard at jobs that let them pay the bills by sacrificing their dreams. I work hard to giveΒ my boys a leg up with the funding and support to be the best atΒ whatever they want to be. And whatΒ they want to do forΒ their kids? That’s entirely up to them.

But hopefully, like me, they’ll start with the tools to do somethingΒ excellent.

Thanks for reading and until the next,

–case p.

By Casey E. Palmer

Calling the Great White North his home, Caseyβ€˜s spent the last few decades in pursuit of creating killer content. From novels as a kid, comics as a teen, to blogs and photos once he could grow a beard, he’ll use whatever’s around him to create amazing stuff.

When he’s not creating, he’s parenting, exploring and trying to make life as awesome as possible for everyone around him.

Because a boring life’s not a life worth living!

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