Following its teaser on Thursday, Jay Z dropped the visual as a Tidal exclusive on Friday. But let us, first of all, give credit to Ava Duvernay, the director of that lit music video. It is one thing to have an idea and another to have that idea nurtured by a capable hand who actually delivers what you want.
In June 2017, when Jay Z released his album 4:44, “OJ” was the only song there with obvious significance. This is because it dealt with the provocative discourse on race and social class in America but “Family Feud” – another song in the album which was a conflicted love letter from Jay Z to his family and US – had less significance and couldn’t stir reactions and conversation. But the music video of the song with Hollywood stars, Michael B. Jordan, Thandie Newton, Jessica Chastain, Omari Harwick and others, is stirring the conversation the audio failed to generate in June.
The video is another black women empowerment, feminist manifesto; a prophecy, kind of, of the future of the world as that of powerful women capable of overturning the planet’s status quo as we know it.
5 Ways the Music Video Preaches Feminism and Women Power
Women Can Be the Head of the Family
As “Jone” in the video, Thandie Newton is the head of the family, and her brother played by Michael B. Jordan, is angry that she, a female, is taking over his position as the head of the family after their father’s demise and is using the position to disrespect him. Thandie shuts him up with a dirty slap – a typical performance of masculinity by a female. After regaining his composure, he grabs her and shakes her violently but was overpowered by Omari Harwick, Newton’s male lover.
Women Don’t Always Need a Man To Be Saved
While Newton allows herself to be violently shaken by her brother, her lover, still sleeping in bed, finally wakes and slowly rolls out of bed upon seeing the trouble, walks over to Jordan and strangles him to death while his woman watches. He prides himself as Newton’s messiah. Newton pretends to show appreciation to her lover for saving her but ends up stabbing him with a knife and reminding him that it is her glory, not his.
A Woman Could be President
Jessica Chastain is shown delivering a discourse to the country’s co-presidents, “Mr and Madame President” bringing our consciousness to the following ideas idea: that this is the best line-up of A-listers for a music video ever produced, that America could be better if it has co-presidents – male and female. (Imagine if Trump had a co-president, he’d have someone to stop him from pressing his big button and grabbing them by the pussy!) That these co-presidents are black too, that one is a native-American woman, which is perhaps America’s single best antidote to assuage Trump’s privilege blinded eyes, is worth noting.
The Future is Female
The narrative is taken back to 2018 in a Catholic Church lookalike, with Jay-Z’s daughter Blue Ivy wearing a white feathered dress. A similar dress to the one worn by Watson’s character in a previous scene symbolizing that the powerful woman at the head of the table is the grown Blue Ivy. She speaking while drawing on wisdom from her dad and spearheading a change in the constitution gives women more power, opportunities, and greater inclusivity. It makes perfect sense that, in the video, Jay-Z’s imagined story, his daughter represents the change of power feminists are hoping for.
A Woman Can be a Catholic Priest
This is where the art of filmmaking (Lemonade, anyone?) meets with Jay-Z’s real life (Becky with the good hair). If you don’t catch the joke, your ass should be whooped real hard.
Beyoncé poses as a Catholic priest dressed in black long robes and headdress as she listens to Jay Z confessing his sins. In other scenes, Jay Z appears vulnerable, conceding his shortcomings and asking for forgiveness while Beyonce remains regal and looks down on him from the pulpit, offering him redemption.
Although the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has condemned the video, calling it slander towards the Catholic Church by its use of Beyoncé as a priestess, with Jay Z confessing his infidelity to her, the music video has several far-reaching and ambitious themes that seamlessly tie the society, the personal and the political structure together. But one thing we can say to Jay-Z, Beyoncé and all those who worked on this video is to keep it coming.
You can watch the video below