Poor Jay Z. Sure, a list of his recent accomplishments include another number one album, a sold-out concert tour at the largest venues in America, and a baby with one of the most beautiful women in the world. But man, fame, luxury and wealth sure are hard!
That’s the message of the video for his song “Holy Grail,” which was posted to his Life+Times YouTube channel today. “Holy Grail” is set a derelict mansion furnished with bluntly obvious visual metaphors about the trappings of the 1 percent (spoiled food, snakes, a tower of champagne glasses toppling over). After watching the famous clip of Mike Tyson getting knocked out by then-unknown boxer Buster Douglas, Hova spits raps intended to shed light on the dark underbelly of life as the 32nd richest celebrity in the world.
“Now I got tattoos on my body, psycho b**ches in the lobby/ I got haters in the paper, photo shoots with paparazzi,” he says in the highly relatable song.
In a wildly pretentious interview with MTV News, the video’s director Anthony Mandler discussed the concept behind the clip.
“How do you become trapped by that which you worked so hard to build? Just when you think you have everything, the universe can take it all back in just one second," Mandler said. Indeed, anyone looking objectively at his life would conclude that Jay Z has certainly been victimized by the fickle finger of fate, such as the one time that...um…
The MTV story claims that with “Holy Grail,” Mandler “set out reinvent the very idea of a big-budget music video.” This is achieved chiefly through a slow-motion shot of Justin Timberlake singing in front of a series of fiery explosions, something no music video director has ever done before.
The lone novelty of the video is the way it changes the arrangement of the original song, slowing down certain lines and shifting Timberlake’s long into to the middle.
"It's a revision of the song,” Mandler said, most likely during break between sniffing his farts. “I loved the long Justin intro, but it was like 'Let's fool 'em a little bit, give 'em an abstract video, then jump right in.' It was a way to f-- with people's heads, in a time when people don't do that anymore."
In that respect, Mandler and Jay Z succeeded enormously; when watching one of the most influential and respected artists in the world attempt to elicit empathy about his difficult station in life, it certainly feels like someone is f--ing with our heads.