Producer: No I.D.
Album: 4:44
Label: Roc Nation/Universal

After Beyoncé’s Lemonade grabbed the world’s attention with tales of strife and cheating in the marriage of music’s favorite power couple, everyone wanted to know how Jay-Z would address it. It was a question that kept Jay himself up at night so much that he sat up in bed once at 4:44 a.m. and started writing what would become the title track to his thirteenth solo album. It’s a song where he says the words “I apologize” no less than 7 times, stuffing it between other sentences like punctuation. But it also features some disarming snapshots of the inner life of a very private couple, like “I said ‘don’t embarrass me’ instead of ‘be mine’/That was my proposal for us to go steady/That was your 21st birthday.”