Alan Yang's "Moonlight" Treatment Almost Made Jay Z Cry

Mr. Carter is a sensitive soul, ok?

By Jessie Peterson Aug 9, 2017
via JayZVEVO / YouTube
via JayZVEVO / YouTube

Jay Z's “Moonlight,” was all anyone could talk about over the weekend. Released Friday on Tidal (and everywhere else next week), the latest visual from his hyper-emotional album 4:44 is stacked with up-and-coming talent: Jerrod Carmichael, Issa Rae, Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Tiffany Haddish, and Lil Rel, in a parody of the popular '90s television show Friends. Directed by Master of None co-creator Alan Yang, the video recreates the series’ iconic opening and a scene from bottle episode “The One Where No One’s Ready.” However, instead of The Rembrandts singing “I’ll Be There For You,” we’re treated to Whodini’s “Friends” before launching into lyrics from Jay. “We stuck in La La Land / Even when we win, we gon’ lose,” he raps referencing this year's Oscars mix-up and black representation in media.

Yang spoke to Vulture about pitching to Jay and the video's process:

"This must’ve been in June sometime. It all happened so fast. Chaka [Pilgrim, Jay's manager] came back to New York and I had to sell her on it a little bit because it’s such an insane idea. I don’t think she was super familiar with Friends, it’s not her jam, but I was like, 'trust me, it’s a very popular show and this will be a weird but interesting thing for us to work on. It’s a provocative idea and I really believe in it.' So she sent the treatment to Jay and, I don’t know if this is true, but she said he really liked it. And then later, when we were deep into production, she pulled me aside and told me that after he finished reading the treatment, he felt like he wanted to cry. That’s a good sign!"

Jay Z’s emotional response to "Moonlight," believe it or not, isn’t the first time a more sensitive Jay has emerged. Jeezy told MTV News in 2014 that Jay “had tears in his eyes” when he wrote his verse on "Seen It All."

That’s not a bad thing. Yang echoes that sentiment in his Vulture interview after revealing a story about his first exposure to 4:44 at a private listening party, which was filmed for an album featurette. “In some of those 'Footnotes' videos, I’m sure you can find a clip of me drinking Jay’s cognac and praising how vulnerable he is on the album and how that’s a projection of strength,” says Yang.