Let's not shit ourselves: The new Jay Z video is an event, regardless of what you feel about the new album, his responsibilies as an artist, or the fact that as an astoundingly rich, well connected, smart, and powerful man he operates in rarefied circles.
It premieres on HBO @ 11p tonight, immediately after his appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher. And it's not being called a video: It's a Performance Art Film.
Director Mark Romanek — who occupies a similar position in the music video world as Jay does in the hip-hop world — talked about the video and its inspirations with Huffington Post.
The admitted main influence is performance artist Marina Abromovich and her "one on one" staredown show at MOMA — documented in the HBO film Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present. Romanek says, "What I pitched to Jay was: 'You regularly perform to 60 or 80,000 people at a time. What if you performed for one person at a time? What if it was like Marina's piece?"
And that reminds me of one of the advantages music video, or any music performance captured on video, over the live experience: The ability to focus. To get close. To provide angles and access that's not possible in even the smallest club, and certainly not in stadiums.
The interview is full of great insights, so I recommend you check it in full, but here are some of my fave quotes from the director: