It’s been less than two weeks since Jay-Z released his latest album, 4:44, on which he appeared to admit having been unfaithful to wife Beyoncé.
Lyrics on songs including the record’s title track (“I apologise, often womanize”) and Family Feud (“Yeah, I’ll f*** up a good thing if you let me / Let me alone, Becky”) all pointed towards confirmation of what Beyoncé had alluded to in her seminal album Lemonade: that Jay-Z had had at least one affair.
And now the rapper himself has addressed the rumours directly, by speaking about his marriage in a mini-documentary released on Tidal yesterday.
"This is my real life,” the 44-year-old begins.
“I just ran into this place and we built this big, beautiful mansion of a relationship that wasn't totally built on the 100% truth and it starts cracking."
Discussing his nine years of marriage to Beyoncé, 35, the rapper goes on to address the pressures of having a relationship in the public eye.
"Things start happening that the public can see," he says. "Then we had to get to a point of ‘OK, tear this down and let's start from the beginning.'
“It's the hardest thing I've ever done."
The rappers admission of having to re-evaluate his marriage is rare – while both he and Beyoncé have alluded to marital problems in their songs, the couple are notoriously private, and carefully curate the images they share on their social media feeds.
However, as one of the most famous couples in the world they certainly can’t hide from public scrutiny, and speculation has surrounded their relationship since it began in the early Noughties.
It reached a peak when CCTV footage emerged of Beyoncé’s sister Solange attacking Jay-Z in a lift at the Met Gala in 2014, and again when Beyoncé seemingly made reference to Jay-Z’s affair on Lemonade last year.
Jay-Z finishes the discussion of his relationship by stating that he has finally learnt the importance of being completely honest with Beyoncé – who, he says, listened to the album long before it was released last month.
"We've been in that space where we just got to the place that in order for this to work, it can't be fake – not once,” he says.
“I'm not saying it wasn't uncomfortable because obviously it was, but because we've been doing it for so long it was less uncomfortable."
Images: Rex Features