What’s so artsy about Jay Z’s Picasso Baby video?

5 Aug

One of the highlights of this August, Jay Z’s 10 minute short film for his Magna Carta Holy Grail single “Picasso Baby” made its debut on HBO last Friday . Directed by Mark Romanek, the short film was inspired by Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present both of whom are featured in the video.  According to USA Today, Romanek says the film was edited down from nearly 30 hours of footage, which appears to include his six hour performance at Pace University last month as well as additional interviews.

picassobabyMaybe you had to actually be present at the live taping  to really get the performance art aspect of the film, since the video edit just looks like 10:45 of Jay Z performing for his “friends” and “fans”.  Throughout the film we see the rapper perform his single for more established artists such as Judd Apatow and Taraji Henson, while other lesser known artists such as Storyboard P and Kiah Victoria perform for him. The only apparent artistic connection is Jay’s explanation of how hip-hop exists as an art form, and instead of featuring expensive objects and video vixens shaking it for the cameras, this hip-hop video features respected artists from different genres – theater, street performance, etc. – performing their craft, or at least enjoying watching Jay perform his.

I’m not saying there’s nothing deep about this song or his performance, but whatever it is it’s not apparent in his short film. For someone whom Beyonce credits for teaching her how to “become an artist”, Jay could’ve done much better with this piece.

Haven’t seen the video? Check it out below. Do you see any artistry?


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