The other day, I kept seeing ads on Complex dot com that simply said "4:44" in a simple, black font on a flesh-toned background (not MY flesh, but someone else's). I didn't know what it meant, and because I'm resident old, I figure it's some shit I'm not supposed to know about because I'm old. I usually wait for one of my younger co-workers to put me on game, but this 4:44 business went viral on its own. Why? Because no one knows what the fuck it means.
One of the primary reasons that this was so confusing is that, while most ads indicate at some point who paid for it, these are legit just numbers on a background, no other information. And it wasn't just hitting the internets. Ads showed up not just on Complex dot com, but they showed up on Fader and Hypebeast as well. They also showed up IRL via subway stations and a big ass ads in Times Square.
The internet has been on its dean trying to figure out what all of this means; the sleuths over at KanyeToThe have an entire thread dedicated to cracking this mystery, and pointed out something interesting with the source code on the 4:44 ad on our site which, when clicked, don't lead to anything but the "4:44" image, with no extra information.
By digging into the source code, they found something interesting: the code on the ad includes Tidal along with the word "SuperHero" (although that could just refer to the size of the ad, word to Spin). Apparently, this is the same for the code on the other sites running ad, and has theorists believing this is the beginning of the roll out on the long-awaited Jay Z album.
This being a proper rollout makes sense, since Jay Z stans have been wondering when that next album would be on the way. After hopping on the "All the Way Up" remix and Khaled's "I Got the Keys" in 2016, talk of a new Hov release heated up. Back in January of 2017, Zaytoven was on his Jay Z album talk during an interview with Billboard where he spoke about going to Jay Z's house to play him some beats, saying their collaboration "is gonna be for both of [our projects]." We asked Zaytoven back in May what a Jay and Zaytoven song would sound like, and he flat out said: "You defeat the element of surprise when you get to talking about songs too much." That's a great way of saying "wait and see," but I'm more fixated on him saying "element of surprise." Could that have been Zaytoven's way of confirming that Jay indeed had some kind of secret album roll out figured out?
Zaytoven isn't the only one hinting at new Jay coming. Also in May was Swizz's Instagram post, which showed him pictured with Jay Z with the phrase "AlbumModeZone" in the caption.
With Jay announcing festival dates, including performing at this year's Austin City Limits in October, the thought has been that Jay's on his new album steeze. But what would "4:44" mean in a Jay Z album rollout? Many are thinking we're about to get Blueprint 4.
With The Blueprint 3 dropping back in 2009, it might be time for Jay to unleash the next chapter of his Blueprint series.
People has speculated on the affinity for the number 4 that Beyoncé and Jay Z apparently have. In 2011, Bey released her fourth studio album, simply titled 4, and back in 2013, Jay took to Life+Times to speak on the number 4 when he was going on a 22-day vegan challenge. "There’s something spiritual to me about it being my 44th birthday and the serendipity behind the number of days in this challenge; 22 (2+2=4) coupled with the fact that the challenge ends on Christmas day…It just feels right!" They were also got married on April 4 and got matching "IV" tattoos. Now think about this: Beyoncé was born on Sept. 4, and Jay's birthday is Dec. 4; maybe the first "4" in "4:44" stands for Blueprint 4, and the ":44" stands for Bey and Jay...aka THE LONG-RUMORED COLLAB ALBUM BETWEEN QUEEN BEY AND HOV?!?!
Or maybe Bey gave birth to the twins on June 4, and this was a way to alert the world?
Some armchair theorists believe the "4:44" to be reference to John 4:44, which reads, "He himself had said that a prophet is not honored in his own hometown," although the question is who is hating on Jay in his hometown? New York ain't got no love for Jay Z? Or do we need to look at a different verse from the Bible?
Or maybe the conspiracy theorist in me is diving way too deep into this. The one thing that's puzzling is the idea that someone (Tidal?) paid for these ads to nowhere. Throwing the 4:44 ads up in Times Square and throughout New York City, as well as on some of the largest music websites in the game right now? That's a lot of cash spent on something just to get people theorizing and speculating. We did reach out to a rep from Tidal for some clarity on this and haven't heard anything back as of yet.
We'll stay on these tweets (and streets), hopefully diving into what will either be the announcement of Jay and Bey's newborn twins, Jay's next studio album, or something else entirely.