Jay Z, writing for The New York Times:
On the surface, this may look like the story of yet another criminal rapper who didn’t smarten up and is back where he started. But consider this: Meek was around 19 when he was convicted on charges relating to drug and gun possession, and he served an eight-month sentence. Now he’s 30, so he has been on probation for basically his entire adult life. For about a decade, he’s been stalked by a system that considers the slightest infraction a justification for locking him back inside.
According to Nielsen Music, in the week ending July 13, the set earned 262,000 equivalent album units — a larger-than-initially-expected sum, and the fourth-largest week of 2017 for any album. Of its total, 174,000 units were in traditional album sales.
4:44’s No. 1 arrival extends JAY-Z’s record as the solo artist with the most No. 1 albums in the 61-year history of the Billboard 200 chart. He distances himself farther ahead of the two acts with the second-most leaders among soloists: Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand, who each have 11 chart-toppers. Among all acts, JAY-Z has the second-most leaders, behind only The Beatles, which have 19 No. 1s.
He went home, wakes up at 4:44 [a.m.] and calls Guru over [to record]. I was blown away. I just walked out of the studio and wanted to go find my wife and hug her. I told him that’s the best song he’s ever written. Everything it covers about being a man, being in a relationship, being a father, how you affect your kids. These things don’t really get touched on in music, especially in hip-hop.
Musical titans Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Robert Lamm, James Pankow & Peter Cetera, p/k/a “Chicago,” Max Martin, and Shawn “JAY Z” Carter will become the latest inductees of the Songwriters Hall of Fame at the organization’s 48th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner. Berry Gordy, who deferred his induction in 2016, will also be part of the 2017 class.
This short film, narrated by Jay Z (Shawn Carter) and featuring the artwork of Molly Crabapple, is part history lesson about the war on drugs and part vision statement. As Ms. Crabapple’s haunting images flash by, the film takes us from the Nixon administration and the Rockefeller drug laws — the draconian 1973 statutes enacted in New York that exploded the state’s prison population and ushered in a period of similar sentencing schemes for other states — through the extraordinary growth in our nation’s prison population to the emerging aboveground marijuana market of today. We learn how African-Americans can make up around 13 percent of the United States population — yet 31 percent of those arrested for drug law violations, even though they use and sell drugs at the same rate as whites.