With the release of 4:44 last month, Jay Z finally offered a response to Beyoncé’s landmark 2016 album Lemonade, which chronicled her coming to terms with her husband’s infidelity. He references his tiff with Solange Knowles in the Standard Hotel elevator in 2014; he mentions “Becky” (with the good hair); and, in the title track “4:44,” he raps, “What good is a ménage à trois when you have a soulmate / You risked that for Blue?”
But perhaps nowhere is the rapper more explicit about his cheating, and how he and Beyoncé attempted to repair their relationship, than in a new video paired with the album’s Tidal release, entitled “Footnotes for 4:44.” In it, Jay Z gathered a group of peers like Chris Rock, Mahershala Ali, Kendrick Lamar, Will Smith, and Jesse Williams to discuss toxic masculinity and its impact on their relationships with women. And, as part of that discussion, Jay Z continues to illuminate the cheating allegations that seem to have inspired his latest record.
“This is my real life,” the rapper says, according to New York magazine. “I just ran into this place and we built this big, beautiful mansion of a relationship that wasn’t totally built on the 100 percent truth and it starts cracking. Things start happening that the public can see.” Rumors of a Jay Z-Rita Ora affair started surfacing around 2013, and even before that, the rapper was briefly linked with Rihanna before he and Beyoncé were married. The couple fought publicly on several occasions, prompting speculation they would split. There was also, of course, the Rachel Roy/Rachael Ray fiasco following Lemonade.
“Then we had to get to a point of ‘Okay, tear this down and let’s start from the beginning,’” Jay Z adds in “Footnotes to 4:44.” “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” He describes an incident in which he begged Beyoncé to stay with him, likening it to an out-of-body experience: “What is happening to my body right now?” he wonders. “All this is new for me.”
When Lemonade debuted last year, there was some brief speculation that it was a fictional concept album Beyoncé and Jay Z had devised together, illuminating a made-up infidelity. 4:44 would seem to put any lingering doubts to rest: “We just got to a place where in order for this to work, this can’t be fake. Not one ounce,” Jay Z says in “Footnotes to 4:44.” “I’m not saying it wasn’t uncomfortable because obviously it was.
Suffice to say, we should never doubt Beyoncé.
Beyoncé’s Most Iconic Beauty Moments of All Time
As a member of Destiny’s Child in 1999, Beyoncé embraced a more natural look hair-wise — which made her purple eye shadow and shimmery lipgloss stand out all the more. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
At the 2000 9th Annual MTV Movie Awards, Beyoncé wore her highlighted loose waves with a glossy, mauve lip. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Beyoncé 2001 MTV Movie Awards wears her highlighted blonde locks in tousled waves with a floral hairpiece and a golden smoky eye. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
A look we wish she’d revive — Beyoncé appeared on TRL again in 2002 to promote Austin Powers in Goldmember, showing off the same hair style sported by her character Foxxy Cleopatra. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Beyoncé was glowing at the The Fighting Temptations film premiere in Hollywood in 2003 wearing a sleek, braided up do with a silver smoky eye. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Wearing a low, tousled pony with blunt bangs and a gunmetal smoky eye, Beyoncé attends the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Loose curls defined the look for all three ladies of Destiny’s Child for their NFL performance before the Patriots vs. Colts game in Foxborough, Massachusetts in 2004. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Though she wasn’t up for any awards in 2005, Beyoncé arrived at the 47th annual Grammy Awards looking like a winner, with a slick updo and a fresh glow. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Beyoncé shows off full, loose curls (much like her Foxxy Cleopatra look, minus the curly bangs) for a BET Awards performance alongside Jay-Z in 2006. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
A winner all around in 2007: A more understated look allows the best accessory, a new Grammy to add to the collection, to speak for itself. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
At the premiere of Cadillac Records in 2008, Beyoncé embraced a classy singer-actress look with another slick up do, this time with a loose pony behind it. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Beyoncé rocked brunette curls at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards with a subtle grey smoky eye and and glossy nude lip. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Flat, ultra-highlighted hair pairs with a more exaggerated winged liner than Beyoncé’s usual look, here at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards in 2010. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Beyoncé bleached her hair even further for the Grammys the following year, in 2011. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Beyoncé went back to bangs in 2012. She paired the look with matte pink lip. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Beyoncé showed off her super short pixie cut in 2013. Photo courtesy of Instagram.
Every year brings another Grammy Awards, and with it, another stellar look from Beyoncé. She rocks yet another variation on the formal ponytail for the event in 2013. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Beachy, tousled waves paired with a taupe smoky eye was Beyoncé’s stunning look at the Costume Institute Gala for the “PUNK: Chaos to Couture” in 2013. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
The singer went short again with faded ombre ends and a vivid makeup look for the Grammys in 2014. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Beyonce’s sultry evening look turned heads at the 2014 Costume Institute Gala as she paired her sleek up do with a maroon lip and an embellished veil. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Beyonce’s sheer Givenchy gown might have been what attracted all the attention at the 2015 Met Gala, but her hair and makeup are equally worthy of attention. A towering, teetering ponytail amps it up, while her makeup stays neutral. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
At the 2016 Super Bowl Halftime Show, Beyonce and her dancers stepped out in Black Panther-esque black catsuits — but her gorgeous ombre curls are equally commanding. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Proving once more that less is more, Beyoncé made a surprise appearance at 2016 58th Grammy Awards wearing a sleek, side-parted low bun with a taupe smoky eye. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Stunning in an adventurous latex Givenchy dress at the 2016 Costume Institute Gala, Beyoncé wore her long blonde locks sleek straight with an exaggerated jade green smoky cat eye. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
The 22-time Grammy winning singer celebrates her latest additions for Best Music Video and Best Urban Contemporary Album wearing a copper smoky eye and matte nude lip. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Beyonce during the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during the 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Field on April 21, 2018 in Indio, California. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Beyonce attends the Premiere Of Disney’s “The Lion King” at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
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