Jay Z and Justin Timberlake Get Artsy in the Video for "Holy Grail"

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 29 2013 1:59 PM

Jay Z and Justin Timberlake Get Artsy

holy grail
Jay Z in the video for "Holy Grail"

Jay Z's been on an artsy kick lately. His latest album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, features an abundance of references to people like Basquiat and Warhol, and last month, he got fans and the art world alike to pay attention when he rapped "Picasso Baby" on a loop for several hours at the Pace Gallery in New York. In the video for "Holy Grail," his collaboration with Justin Timberlake, the hip-hop artist continues his dive head first into high-culture performance.

The rapper and the singer mostly stand (or sit) around and rap and sing in the dark interiors of a giant mansion; there are slick camera movements, expressive lighting and shadows, candelabras, and an upside-down car in flames. Modern dancers draped in billowing sheets up the artsiness quotient, as does the enormous room that is empty save for a single painting on the wall. 

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It's not an especially memorable video, but then, art-world pretensions aside, Jay Z lately seems more interested in technological innovation than musical progress. At noon today, "Holy Grail" became the first music video by a major star to premiere on Facebook.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

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