Jay-Z’s video for “The Story of OJ”, the opening track of his new album 4:44, is a powerful commentary on the history of race relations in America. The animated clip uses vintage-style cartoons to explore old black stereotypes and their prevalence today – much like the famous montage from Spike Lee’s Bamboozled – while discussing culture, generational wealth, and transforming success into stability in a system pitted against black people.
The statement chorus of the song traces the political struggles of black people in America – from colourism that persists in societies today, through to the classifications of slaves years ago – as Jay-Z raps, “Light nigga, dark nigga, faux nigga, real nigga. Rich nigga, poor nigga, house nigga, field nigga. Still nigga, still nigga.” Arguably blurring the distinction between the historically racist use of the N-word and its modern re-appropriated use within black communities, Jay-Z uses “The Story of OJ” to sit amongst the stereotypes his community faces and offer advice and solutions.In the video, directed by Jay-Z himself with Mark Romanek, the rapper employs a host of racially-charged caricatures and references to blackface and minstrelry to break silences on topics of slavery, therapy, and money. Here are a few of the most important ones from the video.
Via ( Dazed )