For the past two days, the internet has been all aflutter thanks to an incredibly gripping trailer for an incredibly fake movie that was released by Jay-Z and Beyonce as part of the promotional campaign for their co-headlining "Run" tour.
And while Jay-Z likes to famously claim that he is "not a business man" (he's a business, man), he's doing a pretty good job of acting like one. In fact, Sean "Jay-Z" Carter may have outdone himself with this one.
He found a way to turn a simple marketing tool for his upcoming tour into not just a viral sensation, but a clever bit of social commentary that undercuts those very people that fall in love with it.
Because Jay-Z isn't a gangster anymore. Hell, we knew that back during his American Gangster days. Like most really successful hip-hop artists, Mr. Carter hasn't had to worry about the daily struggles of life for years, but yet because of hip-hop's seemingly unbreakable association with gangster culture, he still has to cultivate that image.
Or at least Jay-Z knows that's what his audiences want him to do.
It took only a few months before we realized that for as enjoyable as Watch The Throne is as an album, it's essentially two very rich people telling a few million relatively poor people about all the things that only very rich people can do. If they had kept this up, it was only a matter of time before we led a peasant rebellion. So Kanye went industrial punk and attacked his opulence before we ever could, but Jay-Z, he was smarter, at least from a business perspective, about the whole thing.
He decided to give us exactly what we wanted.
He took all the glossy, shallow narratives about gangster and outlaw culture, and he made them glossier than ever. He collected all the derivative tropes and characters types we had sloshing around in our brain and sewed them all together into one endorphin-rush of pointlessness. Like a "17 Things Only Someone Who Reads Lists Would Understand" Thought Catalog article, Jay-Z found a way to make us think something was creative and entertaining, when in reality it was just an amalgamated validation of our preconceived notions of what entertainment is.
He figured out the formula.
Tease an easy-to-follow, hackneyed crime drama plot...
Throw in some girls...
And some guns...
And some girls with guns...
Have that Spanish-speaking actor known for playing a heavily-accented criminal play a heavy-accented criminal (Guillermo Diaz):
Call in a respected actor to lend a bit of gravitas to the film (Sean Penn):
And a respected black actor to nip any blacksploitation problems in the bud add even more gravitas to the film (Don Cheadle):
Have a pretty-boy actor play a crazy bad boy (Jake Gyllenhaal):
Have a pretty girl have a relatively pretty small problem (Blake Lively):
And try to throw in one comedic moment near the end to bring us all back to Smileytown:
Oh, and don't forget gratuitous amounts of Beyonce...
and more Beyonce...
Lets just say, it's not a coincidence that you're hearing Bey-Bey sing the words, "Cliché, cliché, cliché, cliché" from the couples duet "Part II" in the background of this trailer.
“We, the BeyHive and JAY Z fans would love for our two favorite artists to actually make a full length movie based off of the trailer. Why? It would most definitely sell millions, it’s also casted so perfectly (Don Cheadle, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sean Penn) and most importantly, it would make your fans happy. We love you B and Jay, you two have to make this happen. Please, the world wants the ‘ON THE RUN’ movie!”
The world may want the "On The Run" movie, but it will settle for emptying its bank account at the chance to see these two live at a city near it later this summer.
It's a business, man.