Jay-Z’s Past and America’s Future

Angelica Acevedo, Managing Editor

Striking visuals accompanied Jay-Z’s customary uncensored lyrics — this time, it was for “Family Feud.”

He released the video three weeks ago and, of course, it was all anyone could talk about. Ava DuVernay directed the elaborate video, which featured a star-studded cast that included Michael B. Jordan, Jessica Chastain, Thandie Newton, America Ferrera, Brie Larson and Rosario Dawson, to name a few.

The video followed the story of what we can only assume is America hundreds of years from now. There were various subplots throughout the futuristic history, all of which seemed to stem from a turning point, when the “foremothers” revised the Constitution.

As the video progresses, we see Jay-Z holding his daughter Blue Ivy’s hand as they walk into a cathedral. The song begins and we are introduced to Beyonce, who symbolizes the priestess that Jay-Z confesses his sins to. The video appropriately becomes about Jay-Z’s family, as he raps about how far he’s made it in his career and in his personal life, without shying away from admitting he’s made many mistakes, including being unfaithful to his wife (“Yeah, I’ll f*** up a good thing if you let me / Let me alone, Becky”).

However, his lyrics also touch upon the importance of his triumphs, in business and in his artistic career (“What’s better than one billionaire? Two (two) / ‘Specially if they’re from the same hue as you”).

This particular line can be interpreted in two different ways, one being that he is acknowledging the empire him and his wife have created, both united and separately. Another can be his praise of not only his but his fellow black artists’ success as entrepreneurs.

Sure, you might have to watch the video a couple of times to fully grasp the various subplots that lead into the bigger picture — which is that Jay-Z envisions the future of the U.S. with an ethnically diverse government as well as an increase in leadership positions for women — but it is an impactful video nonetheless.

Not everyone enjoyed Jay-Z’s video though. Some thought that it was hard to follow due to the video’s elaborateness.

Others even thought that he disrespected the Catholic church for having a cathedral as a backdrop for a song with curse words in it.

The Catholic League President Bill Donohue released a statement regarding the video, “Is it anti-Catholic? No, it is not a bigoted assault … But it is nonetheless gratuitous as well as exploitative, just the kind of thing we would expect from this genius couple.”

Love it or hate it, the message Jay-Z conveyed in his video furthers the very relevant conversation surrounding the prejudices of race and politics in America.