In the past week, Jay Z has been announced as the headliner of both the Made In America and Austin City Limits festivals. And given that Jay hasn’t released an album since 2013’s abysmal Magna Carta Holy Grail, this news was enough to get our collective spider sense going. As it turns out, we were right; there could be a new Jay album soon. As Billboard points out, Swizz Beatz, a producer who has been working steadily with Jay for nearly 20 years, posted an Instagram of himself and Jay last night, with a cryptic and intriguing line about “album mode zone.”
Producers like Zaytoven and Mike Will Made-It have also made reference to working with Jay lately, so it seems likely that something could arrive soon. But if it’s been four years since the last Jay Z album, it’s also been about 10 years since the last good Jay Z solo album (American Gangster if we’re being nice, The Black Album if we’re not). So there’s a lot at stake here.