Review: Beyonce, Jay Z Push Empowerment with Art in Apes**t Video, The Carters Album
Most musicians film videos on private jets, boats and dance clubs. Hip-Hop Icons Beyonce and Jay-Z used famed Paris-based Louvre Museum as the backdrop for the hit single “Apeshit” video. Beyonce and Jay-Z just released the best music video of both careers spanning two decades of Hip-hop and R&B. There hasn’t been a video with this kind of interesting detail captivating audiences since TLC’s “Waterfalls” released in 1995.
At first glance “Apeshit” it looks like another music superstar filming a video on location, until you examine the combination of the lyrics, wardrobe and art. The theme of female and black empowerment are weaved within the artistry of the video. The video’s popularity earned it 41 million YouTube views in one week. Here’s a breakdown of the creative detail and my thoughts on The Carters (Jay-Z and Beyonce’s real last name and band name for the joint project) Everything is Love album.
The art in “Apeshit” is very intentional. The song follows the gratitude, dynasty building, crazy crowds and luxury lifestyle of Beyonce and Jay-Z. The couple, who wed a decade ago and have three children, use the rare art to follow the songs lyrics flaunting gratitude for success, wealth and fame. The strong female and black empowerment themes are throughout “ApeShit” single and Everything is Love album. The couple speak about achieving fame, success and keeping it in the songs lyrics.
If you love art and visiting museums, watching “Apeshit” is an enjoyable experience. For those who don’t love the art experience, the music beats, designer wardrobe and well choreographed dance scenes are enough to keep you interested. The use of art reminds the viewer why the superstar couple is famous. They weren’t afraid to leave the stereotypical music video box and use symbolism open to interpretation by the viewer. It’s the same experience you get when visiting a museum or art show. Since art is subjective, Mr. and Mrs. Carter allow the audience to enjoy the visuals without restraint of opinion.
Images of rare art at Louvre create the opening scene of “ApeShit”. Prior to the first appearance by Beyonce and Jay-Z, the video starts with images of the Galerie d’Apollon, a royal gallery built for King Louis XIV (Louis The Great), who reigned in France during the 16 and 1700’s. The gallery features paintings of the sun god Apollo, a symbol associated with fertility. This could be a reference to Beyonce and Jay-Z as the Queen and King, heads of their own empire.
Also in the introduction is Madonna with the Green Cushion. The classic painting depicts the virgin Mary nursing the baby Jesus. Those familiar with biblical teachings know that Mary was a strong young woman of virtue chosen to be Jesus mother. The theme of female empowerment is weaved throughout Beyonce’s solo albums over the years. Most notably, “Single Ladies”, “Run The World (Girls)” and “Formation” follow that trend.
The strong black empowerment message in “Apeshit” hinges on one rare piece of art. The Portrait d’une femme noire, painted in 1800 by Marie Guillemine Benoist - a supporter of women’s causes. The painting appears near the end of “Apeshit” The painting of a black woman with a head wrap has an exposed breast. Portrait d’une femme noire is significant to the period in which it was created. It is one of the first portraits of a free black woman following the temporary abolishment of slavery in the French colonies in 1794. This period is also significant to the women’s movement during the same period. Slavery was reestablished around 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte but abolished again in 1848.
The Mona Lisa makes the most appearances of any piece of art in “Apeshit” The Leonardo da Vinci classic is used in the introduction of the video where Beyonce and Jay-Z first appear in colorful designer suits. The musicians are facing the camera in front of the Mona Lisa. It feels like a group photo and the couple inferring that they are rare and beautiful like the Mona Lisa. The last scene of “Apeshit” shows the couple in the same outfits turning around to face the Mona Lisa and look at her. There has been a lot of interpretations of da Vinci’s artwork and his reasons for creating it. One thig is certain, after watching “Apeshit, Jay-Z and Beyonce feel equal to any work of art.
Beyonce and Jay-Z have become the music industry’s most powerful couple pushing empowerment themed music with catchy beats. Over the past two years the couple, who wed a decade ago and are parents of three children, have been pushing self love, fidelity and community in their individual albums Lemonade and 4:44.
Everything is Love album, does not hold back on its lyrics, flaunting success and denouncement of haters. The Carters addictive beats and in-your-face lyrics have an inspirational quality throughout Everything is Love.
Starting with the first single released “Apeshit” the song title speaks to the excited crowds waiting to see the couples concerts around the globe. The couple confesses to being thankful in the song and raps about the fabulous luxury items they own. They get help from a few musical friends with rappers Offset and Pharrell as co-writers on the song. The songs sings like hip-hop poetry with world travels and the now infamous Jay-Z diss to the NFL. Apparently he turned down the Superbowl. Beyonce was a headliner at the halftime show in 2013.
One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Boss”. In the song Beyonce and Jay-Z sing and rap about how people pretend to be bosses but some people don’t want to pay the price or the invoices that come with it. Both artists equally pull their weight throughout Everything is Love, but on this single Beyonce holds the vocals while Jay-Z proves that he has enough flow to win a rap battle with anyone. One of the best lines of the song is rapped by Jay-Z “It’s disturbing what I gross (What I gross) Survey says you;re not even close.”
The song “Nice” covers the controversy surrounding the couple, especially Jay-Z. The rapper starts out the song strong with a diss about a pending lawsuit. with “Fuck your subpoenas and and your misdemeanors, was too busy touring out all your areas.” He goes on to say in the song, “Time to remind me a black again, huh?” Beyonce throws in her own diss to streaming service spotify. She released the album exclusively on Jay-Z owned Tidal.
The songs “Summer”, “Love Happy” “Black Effect” and “Heard About Us” speak more to the Carters as a power couple and snippets of their love story. This group is great to listen to but you have to be in a mood for hip-hop love. The songs “Apeshit”, “Boss”, “Nice” and “713” are slightly more universal to the empowerment theme with a little less of the Carters love story.
Overall, I'd recommend music lovers give Everything is Love a chance. The album plays like hip-hop poetry with storytelling weaved into the carefully written lyrics. While many modern and some influences of trap music are included in the creative styles, fans of Beyonce and Jay-Z will find the music worth the download and a definite playlist winner.