Last week, billboards bearing the number “4:44” popped up in New York and Los Angeles and online — even in New York’s Times Square, which ain’t cheap. Some bright spark spied the word “Tidal” in the code of the online ad and wonderers began wondering whether it was a teaser for Jay Z’s long-in the works next album.
Two days later, a minute-long trailer ran during the NBA Finals and online that seemed to indicate the ads are for something possibly unrelated to a new Jay Z album: something that features Oscar winners Mahershala Ali and Lupita Nygon’go and Danny Glover that will appear as part of Tidal’s new partnership with Sprint. The moody, black-and-white clip shows Ali practicing boxing in a gym with a trainer as a mellow hip-hip inflected rhythm track plays. Dark and shadowy, the clip resembles a film about 1950s jazz more than one about boxing. Wording at the end of the clip lists the actors and sends viewers to the URL https://sprint.tidal.com/us, which at the moment has just a “stay tuned” message.
Now Friday (June 16), the day after Jay Z’s widely reported non-appearance for his induction at the Songwriters Hall of Fame, according to a report in HipHopDX, more ads have popped up in Los Angeles, this time with his name above the “4:44” and the date 6.30.17 — two weeks away. The ad also says “exclusively on sprint.tidal.com.”
We’re only going to spend so much time speculating, BUT could this mean that Jay’s next album will be dropping exclusively on Tidal on that date? It’s entirely possible — he did a similar stunt four years ago with Samsung and his “Magna Carta Holy Grail” album, and while it’s been quiet on the exclusive front lately, Tidal does go big on exclusives, especially when they’re a creation of the company’s owner, and especially now that they’ve gotten a $200 million infusion from Sprint, which is presumably looking for some ROI.
Quite how the minute-long trailer of Mahershala Ali fits into all this is a project for greater minds than ours, but some kind of music video or short film accompanying the album wouldn’t be inconceivable.
The most annoying thing about all of this? His name is rendered like “Jay:Z” in the ad. This is a man who got headlines all over the world when he decreed that he was dropping the hyphen from his name. Will copyeditors across the globe have to remember to include a colon after June 30th?