JAY-Z dropped his new album “4:44” Thursday at midnight, and with it an incredible animated music video for the track “The Story of O.J.”
Unlike his wife, Beyoncé, whose last two albums were released alongside full-length visual albums, JAY-Z has opted for something simpler: a single, straightforward, but brilliant music video.
The video, co-directed by JAY-Z and Mark Romanek, is a gorgeous black-and-white throwback to animation of the 1920s and ’30s, with some contemporary twists.
“4:44” and “The Story of O.J.” are currently available exclusively on JAY-Z streaming service TIDAL, but you can watch a short clip from the video below:
“The Story of O.J.” takes racial stereotypes about African-Americans and turns them on their head. Rolling Stone points out that Jaybo, JAY-Z’s character in the video, is based on Sambo, the main character in “The Story of Little Black Sambo”, Helen Bannerman’s notorious children’s book.
Despite the song’s title, O.J. Simpson is only mentioned once in the song, whose subject is less about one man than the experience of African-Americans in general.
Speaking to iHeartRadio, JAY-Z said, “‘The Story of O.J.’ is really a song about we as a culture, having a plan, how we’re gonna push this forward. We all make money, and then we all lose money, as artists especially. But how, when you have some type of success, to transform that into something bigger.”
The video for “The Story of O.J.” is the only one released for the new album so far, but teasers and clips advertising the album featuring the likes of Mahershala Ali and Lupita Nyong’o suggest that JAY-Z is far from finished.