Directed by Ricky Saiz, the Carter’s instantly iconic new music video, Apeshit, represents the ultimate reverence for historical artwork. The video begins by panning slowly towards Beyoncé and Jay Z standing stoically in front of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa; they continue this trend throughout the six-minute video, always staring directly into the camera, seemingly acknowledging the audience as they stand in front of various artwork. By the end of the video, however, we see Beyoncé let go of her stoicism; as the depictions of artwork become increasingly violent and politically charged, she begins to dance widely.
The politics of Apeshit, much like Childish Gambino’s recent release This is America, are quite subtle, imperceptible to the casual viewer. As Jay Z sings, “I said no to the Superbowl; you need me, I don’t need you / Overnight we in the end zone; tell the NFL we in stadiums too,” we see a triangular formation of kneeling black men. This quiet reference to American football star Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the U.S.A. national anthem before a game to protest racial injustice and discrimination, suggests a highly political meaning behind the video.