The album, which the Brooklyn-born rapper released through his streaming service TIDAL, responded to Bey's infidelity claims on Lemonade, talked about the couple's miscarriage and the challenges of parenthood, and gave a platform for Jay's mother to come out as a lesbian to the world. The painful, raw honesty of the lyrics combined with Jay-Z's undeniable talent for crafting entrancing music made the album an instant hit, but no one could have predicted just how well it would actually do.
But how did he achieve such a huge accomplishment without selling physical albums?
Since 2016, the RIAA now takes streaming numbers into account as it determines what goes gold and platinum, according to People, and the metrics they use are quite jarring. In order for the streams to count towards the traditional calculation (based on the number of physical album sales), the RIAA tallies the numbers and counts each 1,500 song streams as one album sale.
To go platinum, an artist has to sell one million or more albums. People points out that for Jay to have reached such an impressive milestone, listeners would have had to stream songs off of 4:44 1.5 billion times at least — an almost unthinkable feat once you realise that he only released the album on TIDAL, which is available to users at a cost of between £4.99–£19.99 per month, depending on the package.
Of course, Hova couldn't have done it without the help of Beyoncé: Though she preached forgiveness in Lemonade, knowing that her husband was going to reveal some of the most traumatic and heartbreaking moments of her life couldn't have been easy. Yet somehow, she not only dealt with Jay's rehashing of the past, but she also collaborated with him to make the final album. If that's not the ultimate sign of love and mercy, we don't know what is.