The hoopla surrounding Jay-Z’s latest album Magna Carta Holy Grail continued yesterday as the rapper performed his song “Picasso Baby” for six hours straight at New York’s Pace Gallery. Part of the rapper’s music video shoot, the performance was an homage of sorts to performance artist Marina Abramovic, whose 2010 installation “The Artist Is Present” saw her spending 736 hours in one-on-one encounters with MoMA visitors. Jay-Z’s performance was not as long, though the rapper did get in the faces of delighted onlookers, as well as a celeb or two.
Film director Judd Apatow, rapper Wale, and artist George Condo squared off with the rapper and artists Laurie Simmons (Lena Dunham’s mom) and Marina Abramovic were also spotted in attendance. The video is directed by Mark Romanek, who directed Jay-Z’s classic “99 Problems” several years back and little seen dystopian drama “Never Let Me Go”.
Whether yesterday’s antics amount to thought provoking artistic expression, or are just another example of the shameless marketing we know he is capable of, Jay-Z has dominated popular music discourse this week. Magna Carta Holy Grail looks set to move 400,000 copies in its opening week and will almost certainly top the Billboard charts, his 13th chart topper, a record for a solo artist. Reviews on the other hand, have been decidedly mixed, some already labeling the record as a classic, while others lamenting it as lifeless, smug, and perhaps most cutting of all, more pretentious than Kanye.
More pretentious than Kanye? Check out the clip below and judge for yourselves.