On June 30, the world will finally get Jay-Z's fourteenth studio album, 4:44. A lot has changed in the four years since Jay-Z released Magna Carta Holy Grail. He's weathered the backlash of alleged infidelity famously referenced on his wife Beyonce's Lemonade, welcomed a set of twins into the world, and largely shrank away from music to multiply his portfolio with a streaming platform and a Live Nation deal. Fans and critics alike are wondering if 4:44 will resemble the slick, sage, hustler of yore or the bloated and bland Jay of recent memory. Luckily, Hov has tapped one of the most talented producers and creative minds of his generation to help him navigate this sea of detractors.
No I.D.’s roots run through twenty plus years of hip-hop. He created the foundation of modern Chicago rap with his childhood friend Common Sense. He helped mentor a teenage Kanye West at the insistence of his mother and would go on to produce for Bow Wow, G-Unit, Jay-Z, Nas, Drake, and Rihanna, to name just a few. The last few years he’s been at the forefront of the music industry as a former president of Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint, stints as the Executive Vice President of A&R and Executive Vice President and Head of Creative at Def Jam Recordings, and his current role as the Executive VP of Capitol Music Group. He also is the president of ARTium Recordings, which houses acts like Jhene Aiko and Vince Staples. It’s been an illustrious career, and he’s never lost his ear for great hip-hop. Which brings us to his next project: Helming a comeback album for one of the greatest rappers of all time.
With 4:44 almost upon us, here are some little known facts about the Chicago producer, label president, and visionary to help put into perspective why Jay’s next album could also be one of his best.