Today, Jay-Z dropped the latest music video off his new album, 4:44, and it’s a doozy: Directed by Master of None co-creator Alan Yang, the video for “Moonlight” is a Friends pastiche featuring an all-black cast performing a word-for-word reenactment from “The One Where No One’s Ready,” an episode from the beloved NBC sitcom’s third season. The only thing missing is Hova covering the Rembrandts’ theme song.
At just under three minutes, “Moonlight” is a short sketch of a song, but the video runs twice as long, leaving plenty of room for the squeal-inducing experience of watching Lil Rel Howery (Joey), Lakeith Stanfield (Chandler), Jerrod Carmichael (Ross), Issa Rae (Rachel), Tessa Thompson (Monica), and Tiffany Haddish (Phoebe) act out scenes from everyone’s favorite Nineties nostalgia machine in what appears to be the actual Friends set.
The video is, alas, available only on Jay-Z’s streaming outfit Tidal, so you’ll have to pay for a subscription to watch the whole thing. But let us break it down for you: It begins with some familiar banter between Howery/Joey and Stanfield/Chandler before cutting to a remake of the show’s infamous Central Park fountain opening credits number, then returns to the “show.” At one point, Howery’s cell phone rings, interrupting the scene, and Carmichael tells the cast to take five. That’s when he strolls off the set and encounters the comedian Hannibal Buress, who tells him the scene is “terrible.”
“It’s just episodes of Seinfeld but with black people,” Buress remarks.
“It’s Friends,” Carmichael corrects him, and adds that it’s “subversive.”
“Well, you did a good job of subverting good comedy,” Buress replies. “You gonna do black Full House next? Family Ties?”
The fourth wall-breaking continues when Rae leads Carmichael off the set and out of the studio, and the video ends with an audio excerpt of the infamous La La Land-Moonlight Oscar mix-up.
UPDATE — 8/11/2017 2:45 PM: Late last night, Jay-Z dropped the “Moonlight” music video on YouTube, for all you Tidal holdouts. Check it out below:
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 4, 2017