Jay-z has been dropping visuals for many of his songs from his recent now platinum album 4:44 that premiered in June. This latest visual Jay-Z dropped for his track Moonlight has taken a new and interesting surreal turn, to tell the story. Upon the premiere he did a quick snippet of it via social media, which peaked major interest. The short clip was the mock opening credits of the hit 90s comedy series Friends however, this time all the friends are black and instead of the theme song I’ll Be There for You by The Rembrandts, the 80s rap classic “Friends” by Houdini rang out.
The visual envisioned “The One Where No One’s Ready” episode, where comedian/actor Jerrod Carmichael (The Carmichael show) played Ross, Issa Rae (Insecure) plays Rachel, Tessa Thompson (Dear White People and Creed) as Monica while Jay-Z’s voice played as Richard on the answering machine. Breakout star of Girls Trip Tiffany Haddish played the kooky Phoebe while Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta and Get Out) and Lil Rel Howery (The Carmichael Show) play Chandler and Joey. Though, the visual is seemingly a parody of the Friends episode with it’s likely set location at the same original stage and set as that of the show it takes a definitely different and deeper twist. As last years award season goes, we all know the mishap that happened during the Oscars where LaLa Land was named Best Picture, when in fact it was Moonlight (the tracks namesake), which is where Jay-Z raps about how black people can win so much and still lose.
The exclusive Tidal clip directed by the co-creator and director of Master of None Alan Yang, took the story in a surreal direction. With the main characters Jerrod Carmichael and Issa Rae leaving the main set of the show in slow motion; Rae guides him to a sound stage that is brightly lit by large standing lights, where Carmichael walks by himself through a door that leads to a grassy park (that could by central park in New York). He takes a seat on the same couch from the Friends opener as he looks out into the sky lit up like the silvery white super moon voiceover replays the moment of the Oscar’s Moonlight/LaLa Land mix-up read Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Revealing the honesty of how blacks in Hollywood can be seen doing the same artistry of their white counterparts and still be overlooked, receive racial bias and overall not be recognized for the merits of their work as deserving as it may be.
It’s not just about the movie LaLa Land or the show Friends (both in which the main cast and most of the background players were that of white performers) its about the overall “double-consciousness” that black people in America still have to live within. Historically speaking the term originated by American poet, writer, activist and leader of the Harlem Renaissance Langston Hughes; where he expressed a psychological dilemma: “should an Afro-American artist remain bound to its African roots, or is cultural assimilation in Euro-American direction inevitable for him or her.”**
Black people in this country have to do double the work in order to be recognized for mediocre achievements that often their white counterparts are recognized for, with ease. No matter how much money one can have, the double standard of whites in America cannot change until the dialogue of systematic and conditioned racism in this country changes. The music video Moonlight takes that case in the right direction, for if black Friends existed or at the very least were some black friends in the cast of that huge hit show; perhaps Hollywood would be more diverse now? Perhaps, there would not be these huge politicized campaigns like #OscarSoWhite if there were some black friends.
Watch Moonlight below (only if you have excess to Tidal), sorry Rebels:
Update: The director Alan Yang provided more deets that the visual will be out everywhere sometime this week.
**Cite Credit: Langston Hughes Reference