It seems like just yesterday that JAY-Z, née Shawn Carter, chose to drop the iconic hyphen from his stage name, but now, four years later, the hyphen has returned. Not only that, but the rapper has also upgraded his moniker to all uppercase letters. So: JAY-Z (not to be confused with Jay-Z or Jay Z – get it?). Anyway, the surprise name change comes hot on the heels of news that his highly anticipated new album, which we now know is titled 4:44, will drop Friday and likely deal with embracing a new chapter in his life.
A week after Beyoncé gave birth to their twins, JAY released a mysterious, 23-second-long, black-and-white commercial for the album via Tidal and Sprint. The simple, cinematic clip is titled “Kill Jay Z,” and features a young black man running down a street while wearing a t-shirt with the words “stay black” on it. “Kill Jay Z” is no doubt a reference to his new name (and the changes he’s gone through over the years), and the commercial hints that he might be going down a similar path as Queen Bey in terms of dropping a visual album.
The new clip follows the 47-year-old’s previous release of a tease for “Adnis,” a new song from 4:44 that features Oscar winner Mahershala Ali and Danny Glover as a boxer and trainer in the video. “Letter to my Dad that I never wrote / Speeches I prepared that I never spoke,” JAY raps. “Words on a paper that I never read / Proses never penned / They stayed in my head.” This will be the rapper’s first studio album since 2013’s Magna Carta Holy Grail.