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What Are These Mysterious ‘4:44’ Tidal Ads Promoting?

Visit the homepages of a number of hip-hop-oriented music and culture websites this morning–Complex, 2DopeBoyz, The Undefeated, perhaps others–and you’ll see the same banner advertisement: a plain, pinkish-yellow field, containing only the numbers “4:44.” While most online banners exist in the hopes that you’ll click on them and navigate to a page where you can buy whatever product they’re selling, these ads are just static images. Clicking on them won’t do anything. The exact purpose of the banners is difficult to ascertain, but there’s reason to believe they are affiliated with Tidal, Jay Z‘s premium streaming service.

As several hyped-up Jigga fans have pointed out on Twitter, inspecting the source code for Complex’s version of the banner reveals multiple apparent references to the company. The URL for the image contains the text “tidal-444.” We’ve screenshotted a bit of the Tidal source code below.

What Are These Mysterious '4:44' Tidal Ads Promoting?

It’s worth noting that the source code for other banners currently running on Complex also contains references to whatever company is behind the ads, in a similar placement to the “Tidal” in the 4:44 code. The code for a Miller High Life banner, for instance, reads “MHL EL Equity Champagne.”

This week, an outdoor advertising campaign has launched in at least one New York City subway station, with posters displaying the same “4:44” image. We called Outfront Media, the company that handles advertising for the MTA, to inquire about the client behind the ads, but did not immediately receive a response. Given the visual similarity between the subway ads and the online banners, however, it’s reasonable to assume that Tidal is behind these as well.

So what’s coming? On forums like Kanye To The and Reddit’s HipHopHeads board, fans are speculating that 4:44 is some sort of new Jay Z project. (The ads also appeared at the Jay St stop… hint hint.) As one particularly excitable Kanye to The poster noted, last month, Swizz Beats posted a photo to Instagram showing himself and Jigga with the caption “They don’t even know what’s about to happen…AlbumModeZone.” At around the same time, the up-and-coming producer HighDefRazjah tweeted that he was in Mike Dean‘s “crib last week w/ Jay , the legend in the flesh ..” And over the weekend, a model named Stacey Hash tweeted that she “Saw a casting for a Jay-Z video here in LA.”

There’s nothing explicitly connecting the rumors about Jay Z music with this apparent Tidal campaign, but given his ownership role in the company, it’s not a huge stretch. Supposed evidence for more specific details about the album, however, doesn’t really hold up. Several Redditors have speculated that the new project is a collaborative project with Beyoncé. One of the top comments on that thread reads like the scribbles of a conspiracy theorist: “they both have ‘IV’ tattooed on their ring fingers, which is the roman numeral for 4. their fucking DAUGHTER’s middle name is IVY which sounds identical to IV!!!! IVY = IV IV = 4!!!!”

There’s also a rumor, birthed on fan forums and parroted on sites like XXL, that the supposed new Jay album will be called Superhero. The rumor is based on the fact that the word, like “Tidal,” appears in the 4:44 banner’s source code. But “Superhero” is online advertising business jargon for a particular size of ad unit, usually the biggest banner at the top of a website. If I had to guess, I’d say that’s what the code is referring to.

Whether it’s a Jay Z album or not, it seems likely that Tidal has something new coming. We’ve reached out to representatives of the company for comment, and will update if we hear back.