Jay-Z’s buzzy “Moonlight” video has spread its wings beyond Tidal, the streaming service where it premiered one week ago. Now available on YouTube, the seven-minute clip sparked internet chatter for skewering Hollywood’s diversity problems and poking fun at the “La La Land” Best Picture snafu from earlier this year.
“Moonlight” ― a track from Jay-Z’s new album, “4:44″ ― recasts the famous “Friends” episode “The One Where No One’s Ready” with an exclusively black cast. It’s a who’s-who of contemporary comedy: Jerrod Carmichael (Ross), Issa Rae (Rachel), Lil Rel Howery (Joey), Lakeith Stanfield (Chandler), Tiffany Haddish (Phoebe) and Tessa Thompson (Monica). Performing to onslaughts of stock laughter, Carmichael finds himself disenchanted, especially after Hannibal Buress tells him that replacing white actors is not as subversive as he hopes. In other words, representation in Hollywood has a long way to go.
“Moonlight” was directed by “Master of None” co-creator Alan Yang, who said Jay-Z “felt like he wanted to cry” after reading Yang’s concept for the video, which is more of a short film. Only about a minute of “Moonlight” is included, which leaves ample room for Jay-Z and Yang’s nuanced take on the importance of well-rounded representation.