Last Friday, the world was stunned when Jay-Z released his latest visual album 4:44 – a revelatory 10-track project that is widely thought to address the rumours and infidelity allegations, his thoughts on fatherhood, and being a man.
However, according to Jay-Z's producer No I.D. (real name Dion Wilson), who served as producer for the album, the rapper's lyrical references to Beyoncé's Lemonade – in which the 35 year-old mother-of-three is thought to discuss Jay-Z's alleged affair – weren't exactly a coincidence, especially when it comes to Beyoncé's role in the album's fruition.
No I.D told the New York Times: 'I always call Bey our de facto A&R (artist and repertoire). Pillow talk is the strongest conversation on the planet. 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.'
And while 4:44 wasn't intended to serve as a direct response to Lemonade, No I.D. admits he encouraged Jay-Z to reference Queen B's lyrics at least once in his album.
And, from the sounds of it, it seems Jay-Z took his producer's advice and ran with it, especially in the title track, 4:44.
'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.
'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,' he added.
The Chicago-based producer also revealed the new father wanted to open up about his life in a way he never had before.
'He said, "I want to do an album where I talk about the things that I've never talked about." He told me he wanted to open up and give people more,' the producer added, referring to accusations of the rapper's infidelity and his mother Gloria Carter coming out as a lesbian on the track Smile.
'When he got to that part about his mom — ["Mama had four kids, but she's a lesbian/had to pretend so long that she's a thespian"] — I immediately knew this was way deeper than anything I was saying. He had that line and he ended up playing it for his mom. That's where he can tell the rest of the story,' he added.
Well, whatever happened in that studio certainly seemed to pay off for Jay-Z.