Motivational Speaker JAY Z Wraps 4:44 Tour in Los Angeles: Recap and Gallery with Vic Mensa
The most refreshing thing about JAY Z’s 2017 output—be it his critically acclaimed thirteenth solo album 4:44, its companion visuals, which included both non-traditional music videos and a series of footage from intimate studio chats with his buddies about the plight of Black men and relationships or the two lengthy interviews he did with Rap Radar and The New York Times—is his perspective.
One of the first things I thought when listening to 4:44 is that he truly sounds like a man who’s recently spent a lot of time in his head (possibly at therapy) looking inward and unpacking a load of baggage.
On “Family Feud,” he raps, “I told my wife this spiritual shit really works!” That bar is telling, because it does seem like Jay’s connected to something else lately—a higher power, the universe, something. And it’s treating him well. So much so that he spent much of his time during his Times and RR offerings sounding like a reader of The Four Agreements and The Secret, saying things like, “You can’t heal what you don’t reveal.” That’s a line that suggests Jay has unearthed some pains deep within and patched up the wounds
It also explains why Jay looked so light on Thursday night (Dec. 21), as he closed out his 4:44 tour in Los Angeles at The Forum. His theatre-in-the-round setup resulted in him being smack center of the arena. With two decades worth of beloved B-side classics and bonafide smash records, he ran through jam after jam. Hit after hit. “Niggas in Paris” slapped. “99 Problems” rocked. The remorseful tone of “4:44” quieted a sold-out venue.
Still, some of the best moments of the show were when he wasn’t performing at all. Instead Jay was more of a motivational speaker, giving tips on how to manifest the reality we seek. Being that his core fan base is the Black community—one that’s endured systematic disenfranchisement since Day 1 in America, Jay’s nuggets function as the proper starting point. The road to freedom begins in the mind.
“Set your intentions,” he encouraged. “Intentions and belief” are the tools, he said, that turned a kid from the projects in Brooklyn into a music mogul on track to billionaire status.
“There’s never darkness,” Jay would add later. “Only absence of light.” Some of these sayings, yes, could be dismissed as glass-half-full rich man rhetoric. However, I'd' encourage otherwise. Let Jay's beams of positivity shine in, sourpuss.
But understanding that negativity is something that exists in full force, Jay also provided a strategy to deal with enemies. “A smile is like a protest to a hater,” he said through a toothy grin. “It fucks their energy up. I promise you. Just smile.”
Written by Brad Wete
All images by Charde Kelly