JAY-Z Releases Staggering New Videos for “Legacy,” “Smile,” and “Marcy Me”

Susan Sarandon and Ron Perlman star alongside an ensemble cast of rising stars as JAY-Z returns to surprise Friday night releases.
November 25, 2017, 11:10am
Image via Wikimedia Commons

JAY-Z, whose new album 4:44 has inspired to some of the most thoughtful and forward-thinkingmusic videos in recent history, released three new short films last night. “Legacy,” “Smile,” and “Marcy Me” are all available on Tidal, and they’re all uniquely brilliant.

“Legacy” is the most ambitious of the three. Directed by British musician and filmmaker Jeymes Samuel (also known as The Bullitts), the 10-minute film tells the story of a prison break, set mostly in a penitentiary dining hall. It stars Susan Sarandon as a vicious, scheming warden and Ron Perlman as Carter, the inmates’ leader. Those Hollywood heavyweights star alongside Aldis Hodge (Straight Outta Compton), Edi Gathegi (House, Twilight), and Emile Hirsch (Lords of Dogtown, Into the Wild). “Legacy,” the last song on 4:44, doesn’t come in until the end credits.

“Smile” tells a love story from the perspective of Jay’s mother, Gloria Carter. It was written and directed by Canadian filmmaker Miles Jay, best known for directing Leon Bridges’s video for “River.” It stars rising actors Dominique Fishback (The Deuce) and Isi Laborde (Return to Montauk). Gloria Carter herself appears at the end of the clip, reading the poem that she read on 4:44's “Smile.”

“Marcy Me” is the shortest video at only three minutes long, but it’s by no means less affecting. The song—JAY-Z’s best in a decade or so—plays throughout, as a night in Bed-Stuy is illuminated by a police helicopter’s spotlight. It’s directed by Ben and Joshua Safdie, the brothers behind Heaven Knows What and Good Time.

In other JAY-Z news, the rapper has cancelled his show in Lincoln, Nebraska, scheduled for December 6. In a statement, JAY-Z said that it would be impossible to erect the video screens that flank his stage on the 4:44 tour. “This tour is too important to me to do it halfway," he said in a statement. "I have to cancel the show. I respect you guys too much to take the money and run. Peace, Hov.”

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