Beyoncé and Jay-Z surprised the world with their new album “Everything is Love”. It came with a new music video, in which Beyoncé and Jay-Z dance, rap, and sing throughout the Louvre in Paris. The cultural significance of the video is heavy, so here are all the hidden meanings you may have missed. Following is a transcript of the video.
Alana Yzola: So, The Carters just released their joint album, Everything is Love, completely unannounced, and with it, came a brand new music video.
Manny Ocbazghi: This time, they rented out The Louvre, which, how Sway? The Louvre and its international art serve as the foundation for a ton of themes in this music video. Here are some of the symbols that you might have missed.
Yzola: While Beyonce is known for having high energy performances throughout her videos, in APS**T, most of her movements are actually pretty subdued. The Carters are purposely statuesque, barely moving, in front of one of the most recognizable portraits of all time, the Mona Lisa. The Carters are literally living art, and the three faces in the frame are portrayed as legendary equals. The two live up to this particular comparison. Art history grad student, Heidi Herrera, noted that people around the world flock to both the Mona Lisa and the Carters, just for something as simple as a quick picture.
Vulture points out that throughout the video, the duo continues to make classical art come to life in brand new contexts. Like Beyonce dancing as Nike, the Greek goddess of victory for you know, obvious reasons, or when she reigned with her fellow female dancers in front of The Coronation of Napoleon. The painting depicts Napoleon crowning his wife, Josephine, the first empress of the French. She switches to a nude wardrobe and lioness hair to dance in front of The Great Sphinx of Tanis, and pulls her hair back to wine in front of Venus de Milo.
One of the most important artistic references was when Jay-Z did his verse in front of The Raft of Medusa. The painting shows the aftermath of a French tragedy, where a naval boat crashed due to poor navigation, leading to a number of deaths. Out of the 150 plus crew members, 17 decided to stay, and 15 survived. The moment captured in the painting was when the crew members saw the rescue ship, after 13 days with little to no food. This hope, after the turmoil, and the determination to stay, symbolizes where Beyonce and Jay-Z are in their relationship right now. They went through hell, but they persevered.
Ocbazghi: Now, let’s get into the cultural significance of the video. There’s one overarching theme, and that’s black excellence. First, let’s talk about the portrait of Madame Recamier. The woman depicted in the painting was the wife of a banker and a huge socialite. Putting black women in front of this piece signifies how black women themselves are iconic.
The styling of the women is also significant. It’s reminiscent of French artist, Marie Benoist’s Portrait of a Black Woman. This kind of depiction of a black woman was rare for its time period, and historians believed it was painted in support of abolitionism. Keep in mind that The Louvre houses a lot of art from the Napoleonic era. Of course, we know Napoleon as one of the most prominent colonizers in history. It’s no accident that Jay and Bey position themselves as art, in the midst of these colonial relics. They’ve literally colonized The Louvre, to celebrate who and what they are.
This painting here, depicts a woman caressing a man with a stab wound, and it’s imitated in the video by this black man and woman. The stab wound is representative of police brutality against blacks, which brings us to the image of black men kneeling outside of the museum, a reference to Colin Kaepernick’s protest. Black women swoop and sway among the white marble floors as Beyonce sings, “I can’t believe we made it.” It’s a celebration of success in the face of oppression, and these images of black bodies in this historically white space emphasize that.
Yzola: Did you see anything we might have missed? Let us know in the comments below.
Ocbazghi: And subscribe to Insider for more video breakdowns.