Things move fast for the Carters. The internet, the 21st century, and all of our minds have exploded following the release of 4:44, JAY-Z's new album that hit Tidal this afternoon at, yes, 4:44 p.m. The crowning jewel is "Family Feud," a wild piece of theater giving us a speculative look at a reformed United States in which women have rewritten the constitution (quiet yas) and a film(?) in which Beyoncé appears as a pontiff to hear JAY-Z's confession. At laaaast. Let's rewind!
On the Bey-JAY-Z timeline, the moment that sticks with most of us is the 2013 release of Beyoncé's fifth studio album, the self-titled Beyoncé, which included the track "Drunk In Love" and forever on changed the word surfbort to mean "sex on the beach." It was a high water mark for the couple, who we all figured must be the hottest couple on Earth. Blue Ivy Carter had been born in January 2012, and appeared in the music videos and as a baby voice on "Blue," and the consensus was, wow, having kids really works for those two. Later in 2013, rumors were rife that the pair were contemplating divorce.
Beyoncé's album Lemonade, which came out in 2016, threw fuel on the fire as fans picked apart the "Becky with the good hair" lyrics, but they didn't officially address the rumors until October of this year, when JAY-Z opened up to the New York Times, of all places, about his infidelity. And now, we have the delectable theater of him confessing and rapping, "let me alone Becky... nobody wins when the family feuds" on 4:44. Wowwow.
The music video, which was directed by Ava DuVernay, and runs over eight minutes long, is a fascinating piece of cinema, and is jam-packed with celebrity cameos. It is a distinctly feminist piece of work, and the juiciest moment is, yes, the appearance of Beyoncé as basically a black pope. She is at the front of chapel and wearing a black habit — shots of her sexy pope cleavge are interspersed with JAY-Z in the confession booth and Blue Ivy sitting in the pews looking like a goddamn angel.
Not only does the video invert the power structure in terms of the constitution, talking about destruction of the second amendment to save women, and referencing the 13th amendment, but Beyonce's appearance as seemingly the spiritual salvation of the future U.S., if only JAY-Z can atone, is powerful stuff.
Do you guys think he is sorry enough? "I'll fuck up a good thing if you let me," he raps. But karma knows how to sort it out.
If you needed a reason to feel positive about 2018, the Carter family have essentially given us an opportunity for spiritual rebirth. If you're worried about your country, your family, your relationship, or whatever your screwups have been, he is here to tell himself, and all of us, "The worst of us doesn't define us."
The video has also proven that no one can turn our minds inside out like Beyoncé Carter and JAY-Z. White power structure? Flipped. An embedded patriarchy? Torn apart by Ava DuVernay, Brie Larson, Mindy Kaling, Jessica Chastain, Thandi Newton and a cast of feminist heroes. The long-rumored weakness in their marriage? Absolutely sunk by the show of flashy, sumptuous cinema that JAY-Z dropped on his own streaming platform this afternoon. The world's most famous rapper and the world's best voice together dishing it out to the doubters.
Can I get an amen from the congregation.
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