#36 – 4:44 by Jay-Z

As I listened to this album, which is Jay-Z’s 13th studio album, it hit me just how long he has been speaking out about police brutality and systemic racism.  I’ve been listening to his music for his entire career, spanning over two decades, and I can only imagine the frustration that he must feel seeing how little has changed in that time.  Even with the remove that success had provided him from the mean streets of his upbringing, his albums have always had fresh outrages to inspire them.  Quite often, artists lose a bit of their edginess the longer they live the high life, but Jay-Z has thus far eluded this.  Unfortunately, the NYPD alone provides more than enough ammunition for many rap albums.  Historically, anger has inspired a lot of great artwork and hip-hop is rife with such examples.  While the subject matter has certainly matured over the years, the anger is still there and rightly so.  Hopefully some real changes can come to our country so Jay-Z – and many other artists – can stop having so much tragic fuel available for their creative fires.

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