After becoming the first producer ever to craft an entire album with JAY-Z, Ernest Dion “No I.D.” Wilson is opening up about the creative process and what fans should expect from the duo.
Speaking with Rolling Stone, the veteran beatsmith revealed that the 4:44 process started a year ago, back when he saw Hov at a restaurant. “He goes, ‘You got any music for me?,’” recalled No I.D.. “And I go, ‘Nope.’ He goes, ‘What are you working on?’ I said, ‘Getting better.’”
Inspired by Quincy Jones and a conversation with J. Cole, No I.D. eventually reached back out to JAY-Z via e-mail. He said he had “Blueprint-level” beats and their 4:44 work began. “From there,” he added, “I literally probably gave him three to five new ideas every day for a nice amount of time.”
Part of the album’s critical acclaim has come from the production, but critics have also celebrated Hov’s vulnerability. “I saw that he, from our initial conversation, wanted to say more and wanted to say some things that he hadn’t said,” explained No I.D. “Part of my growth as a producer was not just about making beats but also helping in the process of inspiring the song and making the song the center. This album is about Shawn Carter, Jay-Z, opening up, and me scoring that.”
He didn’t just score the album. No I.D. said he also motivated JAY to be more revelatory. “I knew he wanted to [say those things],” he explained. “I don’t want to take credit for what he wanted to do in the first place. I helped push him by saying, ‘Hey, this is what you said, this is what we know. And I don’t think people need to hear it. I think people need to hear what they don’t know.’ Meaning: You wanted a Picasso, but why? You’re with Beyoncé, but what is that really like? What’s the pressure? What’s the responsibility? What’s the ups and downs? I wanted him to not be over people’s heads.”
There’s more to come from 4:44. According to No I.D., a physical version will feature three additional tracks. “There’s three more songs that are coming out as bonuses,” he said. “James Blake came in and joined into the process. There’s more coming shortly that’s equally as revealing.”
Two of those songs could be “Adnis” and “MaNyfaCedGod,” songs that were previewed in TIDAL ads for the album. In fact, longtime JAY-Z engineer Young Guru recently promised that “Adnis” would be on the physical version of the LP.
“Guys calm down,” he tweeted. “‘Adnis’ will be on the physical copies. If you guys act right I may slip a couple other songs on there.. shhh don’t tell jay.”
It is unclear when the physical will be released. However, Billboard reports that 4:44 will be available through Apple Music/iTunes next week after one week of TIDAL exclusivity. This goes against JAY’s usual stance on streaming, since many of his albums have already been stripped from Spotify and Apple, TIDAL’s streaming competitors.