The level of openness on JAY-Z’s 13th album 4:44 was stunning, the legendary MC disclosed the truth regarding his marriage to Beyoncé, his mother’s sexual identity and his struggles as a black man in America. But JAY-Z still has a lot more to talk about, so he’s released three new bonus tracks for 4:44. The songs were made available Friday (July 7) on the physical copies of the album.
The three bonus songs are “Adnis,” “MaNyfaCedGod,” and “Blue Freestyle/We Family”. All 3 songs create unique moments but it was “Blue Freestyle/We Family” in particular that caught the interest of the Nigerian internet and we’ll explain why. JAY-Z rapped:
I got bloodlines in Benin, that explains the voodoo /
Got poison in my pen, thank god for Lulu /
And thank the heavens for BB, her Creole roots run deeply /
Already ahead of your end, in the foreign bumping Fela, feel me? /
Was out in Havana when that had that banned forever, feel me? /
Fuck embargoes, I’m a narco /
Colombian ties, shout out to Dapo /
OG Juan also
The theme of the record is the importance of family, not just JAY-Z’s nuclear family the Carters, but the black family as a whole that he’s now extended to Africans, it seems. JAY-Z might be the head of his own famous household but, if you listen to his raps, you’d see that his wife Beyoncé is actually ahead of her powerful partner spiritually. On “Family Feud, also off 4:44, Jay rapped: ‘I told my wife this spiritual shit really works’, implying that he’s seeing results now that he’s taking her advice on spirituality.
The Carters seem to have collectively linked their spirituality to the Motherland. Beyoncé’s grandmother was a Louisiana native and Creole, over the years, the singer has been able to trace her ancestry through her. In tracing her Creole ancestry beyond Louisiana, Beyoncé has gone deeper into Haitian culture, in general, and gotten more spiritually in tune with voodoo and other West African deities – it’s evident in her music and imagery. With that line, JAY-Z seems to be thanking Beyoncé for helping him find his own path and crediting his musical genius to his African roots.
JAY-Z raps about listening to Fela’s music in a foreign car, it might be really cool to listen to Nigerian music right now but the rapper’s familiarity with Fela’s music and his legacy goes way back. In 2009, along with Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jay became a producer on “Fela!”, a Broadway musical celebrating the work of the late, great Nigerian superstar.
In an interview, around the time the musical was announced, Jay explained the reason why he got involved with “Fela!”: “It’s an inspiration, about the power of music. Here’s a guy that’s on the other side of the world who was influenced by James Brown, who takes this thing and makes his own sort of genre of music. I just think it’s fascinating.” The fascination continued on the 4:44 album.
JAY-Z also shouts out a certain Dapo, which seemed to fit into his other lines hailing his other foreign connects. Before Mo’Hits disintegrated, Kanye West brought Don Jazzy and D’banj into the Roc family and that’s how the iconic picture of Don Jazzy, Kanye and Jay came about and how Don Jazzy ended up working on the Watch The Throne album.
The most obvious explanation for this line is therefore that JAY-Z had kept in touch with D’banj (real name Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo) and was shouting him out but what are the chances of that happening? Ever since D’banj’s GOOD Music deal collapsed, there has been no link between him and JAY-Z, at least not publicly. Besides, even if they were still in communication, when letting the world know that he knows D’banj, why would JAY-Z be calling D’banj anything other than what the world knows – his stage name.
That leaves us with another Dapo, who is associated closely to Hov and Roc Nation – Dapo Awofisayo.