JAY-Z's "Family Feud" Video Meaning Goes So Much Deeper Than Just Infidelity

Share
Ad failed to load

On Friday, Dec. 29, after a teaser that had everyone talking, JAY-Z's "Family Feud" music video hit TIDAL and it was — a lot. Like many of his other videos, "Family Feud" had celebrity cameos, this time from everyone from Michael B. Jordan to Jessica Chastain to Mindy Kaling; the majority of the video was a film directed by Ava DuVernay, with the images from the teaser making up only the last few minutes. But JAY-Z's "Family Feud" video meaning goes a lot deeper than just infidelity, as fans thought the original video would address. It's time to take a deep dive into everything that youwatched.

Let's start at the beginning. The video opens with a James Baldwin quote that reads,

Ad failed to load

The quote comes from The Devil Finds Work, Baldwin's book-long essay on race and American cinema — and that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the theme already. In the rest of the paragraph, which Baldwin writes in response to a scene of a peasant boy's murder in Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, he continues, "the civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo." If that seems eerily relevant to our modern political climate and race relations in America today, well. Now you're catching on.

TIDAL

The video then moves to a scene in which Michael B. Jordan awakens his sister, Joan, who has been named head of the family instead of him — something he resents. When he berates her for being half-dressed and in bed, Joan's previously-hidden lover attacks and kills him. But when her lover comes to her for a celebratory kiss, Joan stabs him in the back in the middle of it, telling him, "It's not his. It's not yours. It's my throne." (Boy, bye. She ain't sorry.) Then she puts on a lavish robe and leaves the room.

Ad failed to load

This murder goes on to have ramifications for the rest of the family, including two presidents — one played by Omari Hardwick — who must sit and defend to Jessica Chastain the fact that "we are all related" and how her focus on the law is preventing her from understanding the legacy this family has built. "The worst of us does not define us," says Hardwick as he runs through several moments in his family's history that have changed the world. (Their history, by the way, is our future.) There's even an incredible all-female council led by Susan Kelechi in 2050, including Mindy Kaling, Rosario Dawson, Constance Wu, and Brie Larson, who are creating the "confessional papers" and new constitution.

It's also at this point that the video even gives us one hell of a Donald Trump reference as Hardwick says the creation of this constitution happened "at a time when some thought that making America great meant making us afraid of each other." Are Trump's ears burning?

Ad failed to load

But the most obvious and undeniable reinforcement of the message comes at the end of this all-women council meeting, when Kelechi says, "America is a family and the whole family should be free... It's like I remember my father saying when I was a little girl..." and here the camera cuts to JAY-Z leading Blue Ivy down the aisle of a church, implying that Blue Ivy grows up to be this powerful council leader presiding over this world-changing constitution, "Nobody wins when the family feuds."

Hardwick then concludes,

Ad failed to load

So, what's the real meaning of this music video? Basically, America is a hot mess because we've forgotten that which makes us great: that we are a family, and that the worst of us does not define all of us. And if we can only remember our past and use it to inform our present and our future, then we can rise, we can shine, and we can build a better future — no matter how young and powerless we may feel right now. If you came into this hoping for a mediation on infidelity, you should have known better. JAY-Z's 4:44 has had several mic drop moments, but it might just be this one that's the loudest of all.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

What I Learned About Work-Life Balance After Relapsing From Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Almost two years ago, I woke up in a hotel room, groggy and dehydrated, with my clothes all over the room and my nightstand filled with mini bottles of liquor. I had spent the previous two days drinking all the alcohol in my mini bar. I'm not sure wh…
By Irina Gonzalez

Everything Leaving & Coming To Netflix In March, So You Can Plan Your Next Marathon Now

Even though the groundhog saw his shadow — forecasting six more weeks of winter — a nice spring thaw is already on everyone's minds. Fortunately, Netflix has things squared away for March. Whether you're ready to cozy up in front of a fire or get you…
By Sophy Ziss

11 Thoughts That Mean You’re Not As Happy With Your Partner As You Might Think

Even if your current dating situation seems to be going well — you're hanging out, having fun, having sex, etc. — it's still possible that you might not be happy with your partner, and thus not truly happy in your relationship. This can be a gut feel…
By Carolyn Steber

25 Book Recommendations From Your Favorite TV Characters

Although the two may seem like natural enemies, the truth is, television and reading are a match made in bibliophile heaven. Not only are some of the best shows based on or inspired by literature, but whenever you turn on the tube you can be sure to …
By Sadie Trombetta

Bustle Editors On CPAC + 'Making A Murderer'

Adulthood is, essentially, just waiting until the weekend hits — which is why I know we're all glad it's finally Friday. Whether your plans are to catch up on all the Netflix content that'll be leaving the platform at the end of February, a weekend g…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

7 Signs Your Energy Is Closed Off To Love, According To A Psychic

Finding love requires more than just the actions of going on dates or setting up an online dating profile. It also requires opening yourself up to love and giving off the vibe that you're open. You may not even realize it if you're energetically bloc…
By Suzannah Weiss

It Took Heather Graham YEARS To Make A Movie About Women Ditching Toxic Men. The Reason? Men.

They say you should write what you know. But in Hollywood, that age-old advice apparently needs an addendum: Write what you know — as long as men are into it. And for actor and newly minted director/screenwriter Heather Graham — a woman who swam thro…
By Kelsea Stahler

Target Just Launched A Gorgeous New Home Brand — And Most Pieces Are Under $30

Design lovers rejoice! Everyone's favorite store for pretty much everything is about to make all your daring decorating dreams come true. Today, Target's corporate blog issued a press release that provides a peek into Target's new homeware line, Opal…
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

17 Brilliant Ways To Support Parkland Survivors Wherever You Are

Following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, survivors are demanding Congress take action. A large group of students who survived the shooting are opposing politicians' "thoughts and prayers," arguing that inst…
By Sarah Beauchamp

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

How This Quadriplegic Beauty Lover Beat Cancer & Became A Professional Makeup Artist

In 2010, one day before she was supposed to start cosmetology school, Steph Aiello was involved in a car crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down with limited ability to move her hands and one of her closest friends dead. She would spend the…
By Sara Tan

7 Common Marriage Rules That Aren't Good For Relationships

When it comes to marriage, everyone loves to give their two cents, and with all the warnings and advice floating around out there, no wonder people find marriage intimidating. Luckily, you don't always have to play by the rules, and there's some bad …
By Carina Wolff

The Infuriating Way Hollywood Movie Sets Are Designed To Make Life Harder For Women

Whitney Cummings is fed up — with the way Hollywood treats women, and in particular, the way the it treats female directors who have children. While the entertainment industry may be working hard to get more women behind the camera, Cummings wants to…
By Casey Cipriani

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale