When the title of Jay Z’s new album 4:44 was first announced, it sparked a lot of confusion. But Jay and Beyoncé obsessives recognized something very familiar.
The power couple has a long history with the number four, one that runs through literally their entire lives. Years ago, while on Good Morning America promoting her fourth studio album titled—you guessed it—4, Bey revealed some of the reasons the number is so significant to her and her husband.
“My birthday is on the fourth,” she said. “My mother’s birthday is on the fourth. My husband’s [Jay Z] birthday is on the fourth. I got married on the fourth.”
The singer went a little bit deeper during her 2011 Live at Roseland: Elements of 4 concert series. During one of the four performances, Bey claimed her entire wedding date was significant, not just the day and month: “On April 4, 2008—eight divided by two is four—[Jay Z] put a ring on it.”
Oh, and shortly after the two tied the knot, they got matching tattoos on their ring fingers of the Roman numeral 4: “IV.” That number is also seen in the middle name of their first child: Blue Ivy Carter. (Ivy is the phonetic spelling of the Roman numeral.)
Furthermore, in Dec. of 2013, just one day before he turned 44, Jay revealed he and Bey would go vegan for 22 days. The duration of the diet seemed somewhat random; however, the rapper explained that the number four played a huge part in deciding the time span.
“Why now?” he wrote on his blog, Life + Times. “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!” And we should also remember that Jay once took the number four to linguistic extremes with his track “44 Fours,” a latter-day sequel to his 1996 track “22 Two’s.”
The significance of the number four varies from culture to culture. Some consider the number to be unlucky as it represents work, while others believe it represents focus and determination to reach goals. It’s unclear if Jay and Bey’s attraction to the number is based on superstition, or if it’s simply sentimental.
As for the number’s relationship to the album 4:44, that goes to the very heart of the project. The title track, which lasts exactly four minutes and 44 seconds, got its name for a serendipitous reason. Jay explained what happened to the people at iHeartRadio.
“‘4:44’ is a song that I wrote, and it’s the crux of the album, just right in the middle of the album. And I woke up, literally, at 4:44 in the morning, 4:44 AM, to write this song. So it became the title of the album and everything. It’s the title track because it’s such a powerful song, and I just believe one of the best songs I’ve ever written.”
The title track, which is Jay’s answer to Beyoncé’s Lemonade, is in many ways, the rawest part of an already soul-baring album. Hov delivered.