Jay-Z is smiling. He's not smirking. He's not cackle-chuckling. He's grinning like a school kid, just out for summer, who got away with having his girlfriend do his homework all year. Granted it's a video set, but have we ever seen Shawn Carter with his guard down like this? I knew he had cars for days, but I didn't know he genuinely loved cars, or driving, until I saw him do doughnuts in a custom Maybach-turned-Batmobile. I’d wager my date with Amber Rose that, at some point, Jay squealed, or at least giggled, with delight on the set of this video. Going back and forth with Kanye (red designer skinny jeans hanging off his ass, ensuring another five years of urban asscrack to avoid looking at), he looks more comfortable than ever.
The fun quotient in this video makes the whole Throne project make sense for me. The album is all over the map, and “Otis” without the visuals, while notable for the unexpected nostalgia, was ultimately underwhelming. Now brightened through Spike Jonze’s washed-out colorfast look, the conceit of the Otis Redding sample as an audio Humblebrag makes more sense. Having Aziz Ansari around just for kicks makes sense. And it feels like they might have ordered the four models smushed in the backseat then forgot to use them, but that’s the point. Two black artists beholden to no one but themselves, and this is how they kick it: beats, rhymes, fancy cars, models, Aziz for ambience, and, oh yeah, the American flag in the background. This video will probably be ruined by whatever epic monstrosity they have in mind for “Liftoff,” but right here right now this hits the spot.