jay z's new album, '4:44,' gets a release date.

Jay Z’s New Album, ‘4:44,’ Will Drop on June 30

We knew Jay Z was dropping something this month. The vague “4:44” posters were popping up all over the country, and they were recently updated to include a release date. Still there was a certain reluctance to throw the word “album” around. It would be too good to be true, right? Rumors of sessions with Swizz Beatz and Zaytoven and Mike Will Made-It were just that: rumors. Even when Damian Marley confirmed to Billboard that he’d been in the studio with Hov, the picture didn’t come together.

Then late Sunday night—Father’s Day—just two nights after his headline-making, post Hall of Fame–induction tweet spree, Hov impacted social media again with an album trailer, “Adnis,” named after his birth father. In it, Mahershala Ali practices his boxing jabs on a heavy bag, which is fleetingly supported by Danny Glover, who disappears then reappears during Ali’s boxing session. Over a melancholy set of keys, Jay raps, “Letter to my dad that I never wrote/ Speeches I prepared that I never spoke/ Words on a paper that I never read.”

Shortly after, TIDAL made the announcement everyone was waiting for. Jay Z’s 13th studio album, 4:44, arrives in less than two weeks on June 30. It will be available on Sprint’s exclusive TIDAL platform, which was created by way of the 33% stake in the streaming company Sprint purchased earlier this year.

The caliber of the actors who have been confirmed as being part of the project—Ali, Glover and Lupita Nyong’o—suggest that they weren’t merely roped in for 60-second trailers. Jay could be following in his wife’s Lemonade footsteps and going the visual album route. The first trailer, which you can watch here, also starred Ali and Glover, along with Nyong’o.

Details of Sprint and TIDAL’s exclusivity haven’t yet been revealed, but this isn’t the first time Jay’s gone that route. His last album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, was released exclusively through a Samsung app in 2013, the result of a revolutionary deal that secured an RIAA Platinum plaque for the LP before it was released wide to the public. The album was available only through the Samsung app—save bootleggers of course—for a full four days before it began arriving at other digital retailers and physically in stores.

We’ve seen varying protocols when it comes to TIDAL exclusivity recently, including a couple of mishaps. Rihanna’s ANTI album was expected to be available exclusively on the platform in 2016, but it sprung an early leak that complicated its release. Conversely, Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo was to be available directly after his Madison Square Garden listening session last year; that album couldn’t be streamed on the platform until nearly three days had transpired. Rihanna’s ANTI album would be made available within a week to other retailers, while Kanye’s didn’t hit Apple Music or Spotify for several weeks.

Chances are, nothing—not even a paywall—will prevent true Jay Z fans from digging in two Fridays from now, but it’ll be interesting to see how this release is handled.

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