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Life’s driving force, shaping all our seemingly tiny decisions. Where we live, what’s for dinner, who we spend our days with, it’s all derived from said influence. And no where does it ring truer than in hip-hop. It’s a genre built on the backs of one historical sonic layer after another. Layers varied in jazz, reggae, disco, r & b, that hot track from the summer of ’98 – hip-hop is constantly evolving, stacking, throwing sample on top of sample on top of sample in an effort to move it’s listeners. The combinations seriously endless, and it’s in this permanent progressive state where the beauty continues to lie.

Today we’re looking into the influences of Jay-Z, specifically, the ones that produced 4:44. HOVA took it back to his roots, way back, and in doing so shows us that over the years, he’s spent a great deal of time simply observing. Whether it be Kanye, politics, No-ID, art, family, black culture; his ability to be flexible on this record, to take what he’s learned from the people he’s surrounded himself with (for better or worse, personally or musically), is a large part why at age 47, he’s arguably created his top record. He’s not a student of the game, he’s it’s heartbeat.

For those of you who haven’t been able to get a hold of 4:44 quite yet, here are the songs (straight from the Tidal playlist) that helped engineer Jay-Z’s 13th studio album.

Photography By | Borbay

Related: The Tuesday Mixtape | “Cover Cuts II”

TODAY’S FRIENDS INCLUDE: Nina Simone, Sister Nancy, Stevie Wonder, the Fugees, Hannah Williams and the Affirmations and more.

Jay-Z-Portrait-by-Borbay1 2

A Soul Dynamic Playlist | “4:44 Samples

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