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Here’s How Jay-Z’s Black ‘Friends’ Remake Came to Be


Since the release of 4:44, Jay-Z has provided powerful accompanying visuals for many of the albums' tracks, but none have been quite as poignant as his latest video for "Moonlight." In the Alan Yang-directed clip, Jerrod Carmichael, Lil Rel Howery, Issa Rae, Tiffany Haddish and Tessa Thompson star in an all-Black remake of Friends.

Speaking to Pigeons & Planes in a recent interview, Yang opened up about the process of working with Jay-Z and how the overall concept of flipping the sitcom on its head came to be. "I don’t want to be didactic and tell people what to think of the video," Yang told the publication. "But, one thing that Jay and I talked about is the importance of making your own stuff."

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"I know that sounds trivial, but it really is just owning and making your own stuff. And that applies to movies, music, TV shows, art, whatever it is you’re making. It’s important to be the author of your own material."

It is with this mindset that Yang came to conceptualize the provocative video treatment and presented it to the President of Roc Nation, Chaka Pilgrim, who in turn passed it along to Hov. According to Yang, after getting the green light for the project Jay was very hands on throughout the creative process even offering constructive criticism. "The contribution that I’m really indebted to [Jay-Z] for is that we couldn’t really clear the Friends theme song," Yang revealed.

"Like it just seemed dicey to do legally and who knows. So he suggested the song by Houdini to play over the credits, which I think is really funny and great."

Yang also revealed that the concept of recasting Friends for the video had less to do with seeing Black actors take on the beloved sitcom characters but more so offering viewers a different perspective. "Let’s go for true diversity in terms of personality and character and role," he said. "And not just diversity in terms of tokenism or we’re checking off boxes. Let’s show literally, legitimately, different kinds of people. That’s always been in the back of my mind. The video touches on that a little bit I think."

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Aligned with the rollout of each of the clips from his thirteenth studio album, Jay has provided a behind-the-scenes video for "Moonlight." It features the impressive cast and Jigga himself explaining the significance of the visual and the ideas representation explored therein.

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