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Performance Art: Jay Z Premieres ‘Picasso Baby’ Video

Jay Z’s Picasso Baby video premiered on HBO Friday night as promised, and while some viewers may debate whether it was  “performance art,”  it definitely wasn’t a typical music video.

The film, as it’s being referred to, continues down the path of Jay Z’s unconventional promotion for his new album Magna Carta Holy Grailand shows new artists another way to release visual content.

As previously reported and as seen in the previews, Jay Z raps to an intimate group of people, one at a time, a take on Marina Abramovic’s 2012 film: The Artist Is Present.

The group includes Abramovic herself, and a host of other artists, actors, musicians,  and even Pablo Picasso’s granddaughter.


A main takeaway from the video is how far rap music has come. In the film, Jay talks about how music and arts evolve together, making reference to painters like Jean-Michel Basquiat who was part of the hip-hop movement.

However when art is placed in the galleries it becomes too “bourgeois” for the average guy, and rappers in particular shy away from it. Now Jay is putting the two related mediums back together. After all, music is art.

The film is also a visual representation of how music  brings people of all walks of life together. In the ‘Picasso Baby’ film there are people of varying ages and races, but they all seem to embrace Jay Z and each other in the name of music or, should I say, art. Despite all its flaws, the power to bring disparate groups of  people together is one of the positive effects of rap music.

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