Hot on the heels of his 13th studio album 4:44, JAY-Z debuted the video for “The Story of O.J.” on YouTube Wednesday night. The track was originally released exclusively to Tidal.
In the animated film, directed by JAY-Z and filmmaker Mark Romanek, the rapper inhabits the cartoon bodies of some of the most persistent stereotypical representations of black people in U.S. history.
Shot in monochrome, the video for “The Story of O.J.” riffs on the early 20th century cartoons of Walter Lantz and Walt Disney, which were later criticized for being racist, but much of the dated imagery retains relevance as a commentary on institutional racism in America today.
On Monday, the rapper dropped a mini documentary, “Footnotes for The Story of O.J.”, which featured prominent stars like Mahershala Ali, Michael Jordan, Chris Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Trevor Noah, and Will Smith talking about the black experience in America.
“Being Black in America is like being in a tiny, compressed box anchored at the bottom of the ocean with like 10,000 pounds of pressure on you at all times, you know, and feeling like you cannot really speak your truth and be who you are without being like criticized with like 1,000 opinions and pointed fingers telling you what you’re not and what you’re not doing,” Jordan said in the video.