There's an old saying that a dwarf standing on a giant's shoulder can see much further than the giant, and it's quite a thought to ponder.
It was about 15 years ago when Jay Z pulled out that idiom for a little song called "Hovi Baby," a standout single off of The Blueprint²: The Gift & The Curse. Clever as it was, at that point in 2002, the metaphor described the attempts of rap foes and label machines hoping to snag a peek into Hov's navigation ("How they propose to deal with my perfect present?"). But fast forward to this point in 2017, and the notion remains clear as the whole rap world clings on his shoulder to see further than he is on this road to album number 13.
It's been four years since he dropped a full body of his ol' Jig rhythm, which came in the form of his most contemplative and personal record to date, Magna Carta... Holy Grail. With four being such a deep-rooted number in the Book of Hov, all eyes are positioned on his every moves before headlining a string of music festivals this summer and fall. Despite remaining relatively low-key after Magna Carta, limiting his productivity to a few guest verses and business (...man), Jigga sparked a match last year when it passed with something like three (and a half) guest verses, a full song (his first in three years), and an actual music video. Since then there have been more signs that Jigga may very well be gearing up for something.
To open up 2017, DJ Khaled surprised the world with a Jay Z and Beyoncé collaboration, "Shining." The record found Jay in his pocket, as he effortlessly rhymed lines about his upcoming twins ("I want a boy and girl, I fight for truth / Whatever God give me, I'm cool"), cleverly referencing 21 Savage ("21 Grammys, I'm a savage ni—a") and even tossing in a veiled jab for good measure ("I know you ain't out here talkin' numbers, right?"). He also hopped on Frank Ocean's "Biking" track and most recently inked a 10-year touring partnership with Live Nation. According to Variety, the deal is worth $200 million and is a continuation of Jigga's ongoing partnership with Live Nation, which will continue to include global touring that is to be produced and promoted by the company.
All of these signs have only spiked the interest and speculation surrounding Hov's mysterious 13th studio album. As expected, there has been no official word on the supposed project, other than the fact that Jermaine Dupri knows the title, Zaytoven supplied some beats, and Swizz Beatz announced it's "Album ModeZone." For what it's worth, Mike WiLL Made-It tossed up this a couple months ago.
So all that considered, there's definitely an album 13 on the way. Here's why.
For the first time years, Jay Z is not set for one or two, but four festivals this summer and fall. He was first announced for V Festival earlier this year. The August music festival takes place in August. Earlier this month, it was revealed that he's signed on to headline Made in America this September with J. Cole. It's his first time playing the show since its inaugural year in 2012. This week, it was revealed that he would be headlining Meadow Music & Arts festival in Queens this September and at Austin City Limits in October. The fact that this all takes place during Hov's favorite season, it's only right he gives the summer some.
Resigned with Live Nation
While they've been in business for quite some time now, Jay extending a partnership between Roc Nation and Live Nation only adds more fuel to this speculation. Where their previous deal in 2008 covered albums, the Live Nation extension will include worldwide touring and will see Live Nation producing and promoting Jay's concert events. Now think, the last time couple of times that Hov has toured it was behind promotion for an album. There was the Magna Carta world tour. There was the On the Run tour with Beyoncé that received an HBO special. Rest assured, this next set should receive similar treatment.
Zaytoven, Swizz Beatz, and more are teasing
Back in February, a photo (see here) circulated online of Jay Z appearing to playing music for his friend Tyran "Ty Ty" Smith. The photo came after another photo surfaced of Jay in the studio. Fast forward to Zaytoven delivering beats to Hov. "When I talked to him, he gave me specific type of beats he wants from me," recalled Zay to REVOLT. "He was like, 'I need them pianos and strings.' So that means you've been paying attention. So that alone, it gave me another confidence level and lets me know that people like that are listening to my music."
Mike WiLL Made-It, who produced Hov's "Beach Is Better") [mentioned] sending the "Holy Grail" MC beats, and said that he was "recording to them." Last year, Roc Nation's Vic Mensa also described his mentor's new music as "fresh as fuck." In the midst of all these teasers, the rumors surrounding a joint album with Beyoncé have only remained.
Twins on the way
Magna Carta... Holy Grail was an album for his baby girl Blue Ivy Carter, same as the record "Glory." This album featured Hov reflecting on fatherhood in such an earnest way account, thus producing his most personal and reflective material to date. Songs like "Holy Grail," "Jay Z Blue," and "Nickels and Dime" reflect that. With twin babies on the way, one can only imagine the amount of motivation he has now. That said, gather 'round for the new Jig rhythm.
It's the Summer
Summer is the season of Hov. If 2015 was "Seen It All" and 2016 gave way to "I Got the Keys," 2017 will be no different — don't get it twisted.