JAY-Z’s Open Letter To His Father Is About Pain & Progress (Video)

JAY-Z’s 4:44 is proving to be a preeminent example of “mature” Rap music. At 47 years old, the iconic MC released a piece of music that is deeply personal and resonant with millions of fans, from his comments about infidelity to financial advice, openness about homosexuality in his family and the difficult relationship he’s had with his father, Adnis. In addition to the visceral lyrics throughout the album, Jiggaman has released a series of equally powerful videos, which are far better described as short, cinematic affairs. His latest video spares not one frame in creating a poignant, beautiful piece of visual accompaniment to his ode to dad, and it stars one of Hollywood’s brightest stars of the day: Mahershala Ali.

How Losing His Father Helped JAY-Z Escape A Hard Knock Life (Video)

In “Adnis,” the House of Cards, Luke Cage, and Moonlight actor is a man locked in a dark, damp boxing gym. As he spars with himself and prepares himself to fight the world outside, he obviously struggles along the way. His tape is not wrapping properly around his hand, and he’s clearly battling anxiety and restlessness. As an arm sporting a watch reaches out and touches him, he gathers himself and finds the resolve to attack the punching bag, a clear metaphor about how life’s ticking clock has the ability to kick us into full gear. Eventually, the arm with a watch becomes a whole person (played by Danny Glover), and the relationship between the video’s main character and his elder correlate to JAY-Z’s lyrics, delivered as a narration to the black and white clip. The closing scene is painful, as the elder walks away and Ali’s character winces as he stares at himself in the mirror.

Adnis Reeves, the father to Shawn Carter, passed away years ago and that only exacerbated the sadness caused by his father’s departure from the family, when Hov was only nine. In “Adnis,” Jay raps “Started a good man, you married my mama / I was in her belly, you hurried that summer / She had two kids from a previous mister / One family, I don’t believe in half-sisters / Never treated my brother like a step-pop /Remembered the many lessons when we stepped out…” The experience clearly left Jay with a complicated relationship to fatherhood, but as he’s proven in his own life and as an artist, becoming a dad himself has been a learning experience for the better. In fact, he’s even extended his sense of paternal duty to strangers. In June, he announced a donation of money to organizations fighting for the release of fathers unduly locked up, helping to get some released in time to celebrate Father’s Day with their own kids.

#BonusBeat: This video closely examines JAY-Z’s relationship with fatherhood:

Other TBD episodes.