Imagine a future where citizens from every background you can think of, members of every marginalized group, race, gender, and class, come together to make this nation (and subsequently this world) a better place. Take that concept and marry it with the imagination of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, or George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, or perhaps Ava DuVernay’s adaptations of Marvel’s “Black Panther” or Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time [sidebar: 2018 at the movies is about to be AMAZING], and you’ll have the awe-inspiring visual for “Family Feud” from Jay-Z’s acclaimed 4:44.
Set between 2018 and 2444, it opens with a quote from The Devil Finds Work (1976), the work of genius African-American novelist James Baldwin, most often noted for his critical analysis of post-slavery America, stating: “The wretched of the earth do not decide to become extinct; they resolve, on the contrary, to multiply: life is their weapon against life, life is all they have.” The quote is immediately followed by an opening scene en media res starring Michael B. Jordan and Thandie Newton telling a tale of power, greed, and distrust. The events that take place come as a result of what seems to be a loss of vision–humanity being the subject of said loss.
Star-studded from beginning to end, appearances from some of the raddest girls in Hollywood including Rosario Dawson, Rashida Jones, Mindy Kaling, and Niecy Nash, along with some of our favorite ‘Midnight Snacks’ like Omari Hardwick and Trevante Rhodes. There are elements of Women’s Empowerment, REAL Balanced Control in the future with multiple presidents, Revolution, and Resolution all throughout this masterpiece.
True to the song’s figurative form and following its themes of family and faith, the video stars Mr. Carter’s self-professed pride and joy, Miss Blue Ivy Carter and Mrs. Beyoncé Knowles Carter framed in a pulpit where the ills of his indiscretions come to a head with the very people he stands to hurt most, or worse, to lose. He raps from a confessional with his wife playing the trusting priest with whom he can be most vulnerable. Beyoncé stuns draped in black and white ensemble from Stéphane Rolland’s Haute Couture FW ’17 collection and Blue Ivy shines like a haloed angel in white feathers and a charming puff-do. She goes on to be one of ‘The Founding Mothers,’ played by Susan Kelechi Watson, in the dramatic scene during which the constitution is rewritten by a conglomerate of sistas in charge.
It goes without saying that Jay-Z has matured a lot since he had the stability of his world threatened, and now he is urging all of us to do the same before it’s too late, before we lose the vision. He took this opportunity to look toward the future and inspire viewers from all walks of life to use what power we have to collectively ensure that our world gets better instead of worse. As the efforts to spark further division between us seem to be ramping up, so must the vigor behind the fight against it. As Jay so eloquently puts it, “Nobody wins when the family feuds.”