First, the bad news. The mysterious ads teasing something called 4:44 are not for a new Jay Z album, as some amateur gumshoes had speculated. The enigmatic ads—which appeared all over New York City and on various websites this week—were traced back to Tidal, leading some to speculate that it was the title of Hov’s first new full-length since 2013’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail.
Now for the good news. During Wednesday’s Game 3 of the NBA finals, Tidal finally revealed the true nature of 4:44 in the form of a brooding black-and white-trailer featuring Mahershala Ali going to town on a punching bag. That’s right, folks. 4:44 is actually movie starring the newly minted Oscar winner as a boxer. Danny Glover appears to play his grizzled trainer and Lupita Nyongo’o also stars. You can never have too many Oscar winners, we suppose.
What we do know is that the film is in partnership with Sprint, which owns a large chunk of Jay Z’s streaming service. On Thursday, president and CEO of Sprint Marcelo Claure tweeted the trailer and revealed that the film will be an exclusive to Sprint customers.
We also learned that 4:44 will be rated NC-17, which might explain why it’s being made available on a niche streaming service like Tidal over a more traditional release. It’s also worth noting that, just because 4:44 was revealed to be a movie, it doesn’t mean that a new Jay Z album isn’t imminent.
Scholars of the Carter-Knowles clan know just how significant the number “4” is to the family. Jay was born on December 4, Bey was born on September 4, and both artists have a “IV’ tattoo. In recent years, Beyonce has mastered the art of timing her album releases with an accompanying longform visual project. Could 4:44 be a companion piece to Jay’s new album? Or even a response to Lemonade. We’ll find out in the coming days when 4:44 the movie is expected to drop on Tidal.