With Jay-Z aging gracefully on his newest album, 4:44, listeners might’ve been surprised (or not) to learn that the rapper directly addressed Beyoncé’s Lemonade numerous times, confirming that he was, indeed, up to some lying and philandering while married to Bey. What’s perhaps more surprising then is that Beyoncé was heavily involved in crafting 4:44 as we know it, as revealed in a new interview with No I.D., the album’s producer. “I always call Bey our de facto A&R. Pillow talk is the strongest conversation on the planet,” he explained to the New York Times. “Every song has to get past her ears, in my eyes. She came by a lot and played a good part in helping us get over hurdles on certain records. Of course she’s genius-level with that.”
Although Jay-Z didn’t want 4:44 to solely serve as a “response” to Lemonade, No I.D. indirectly encouraged him to reference it at least once. As we know now, Jay-Z ended up referencing it quite a bit, most notably with 4:44’s title track. “We just wanted him to respond and then let it be and still touch on other things. I created that beat to box him into telling that story,” the producer explained. “We never directly spoke about that album. Mainly because if he talks about himself, it’s going to bleed into that regardless. But there’s a difference in talking about it for the sake of response and for the sake of honesty and the truth. The truth needs to explain why you are the way you are, why you did what you did. We know what happened. We got it.” And the rest is Tidal history.