The Moonlight and La La Land controversy just got another layer to its story. JAY-Z's new album 4:44 was released June 30 via Tidal. And on a track called "Moonlight," JAY-Z references the Oscar night mix-up of La La Land being mistakenly given the Oscar for Best Picture, when Moonlight had actually won. But the artist isn't just making a pop culture reference here. It's the lyric, "even when we win, we gonna lose" that reveals the importance of this muted victory to JAY-Z.
JAY-Z provided iHeartRadio with exclusive commentary behind the meaning of "Moonlight" and the other songs on the album, Complex reported. JAY-Z said, "The hook is 'We stuck in La La Land/Even if we win, we gonna lose.' It's like a subtle nod to La La Land winning the Oscar, and then having to give it to Moonlight. It's really a commentary on the culture and where we're going."
In the aftermath of the Oscar snafu, there was a lot of discussion about Moonlight having its moment stolen. Instead of director Barry Jenkins and the rest of the team experiencing just the pure elation of winning Best Picture, their win was overshadowed by controversy. And it's hard not to wonder what kind of speech Jenkins would have given if the presentation had gone as it was supposed to.
At least the director seems to be happy to have his film name-checked on 4:44. He tweeted an "O.M.G!" the morning of the release, and followers responded sharing their own excitement.
O.M.G!— Barry Jenkins (@BandryBarry) June 30, 2017
Meanwhile, JAY-Z's "commentary on the culture" doesn't stop with name-dropping Moonlight. He continues on the track to say, "Glorified seat filler, huh?/Stop walkin' around like y'all made Thriller, huh?" While JAY-Z hasn't commented specifically on these lyrics, they can be read as commentary on recent controversies to #OscarsSoWhite and the celebrities criticized for cultural appropriation. The message is clear: Black culture and black contributions to all forms of art should be celebrated openly, equally, and without any distractions.