Some may see the new Jay-Z and Beyonce Tiffany & Co campaign saturating the media as controversial. I see it as a Black couple making power moves that represent our culture proudly.
I come from an era of being able to witness the pivotable growth within the careers and love story of Jay-Z & Beyonće and see them as a reflection of how far Hip Hop culture, music culture, and Black culture have come. To watch two moguls entwine between love, music, and life has been quite the ride.
After Tiffany’s “About Love” campaign featuring the dynamic duo, debuted in September, both Beyonće and Jay-Z have been facing backlash. The commercial is a story about their “longing and reunion—a bond that transcends space and time.” You see scenes where they both are having flashback moments of memories they’ve shared through time. In one scene from the commercial, Beyonće is playing the piano, with the Tiffany diamond necklace on and singing Moon River, a classic from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. While Jay records her, you can see the never-before-seen late New York prodigy Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting titled “Equals Pi” in the background.
A social media frenzy ensued on Twitter over the rare Basquiat painting in the background, which many considered disrespectful to the enigmatic artist. “The fact that they showed off this never-before-seen piece of art from Jean-Michel Basquiat for an ADVERTISEMENT doesn’t sit well with my spirits…” one Twitter user remarked.
Another furious user retorted: “Jean-Michel Basquiat was an anti-capitalist artist. So why is his painting being featured in a commercial from a jewelry brand known for slavery? And why are Jay Z and Beyoncé supporting this????”
Since Jay-Z is a New Yorker and artist himself, he has every right to be a fan and to show off his favorite artwork and what it symbolizes for him. Jay has shown respect and admiration for Basquiat over the years — according to Forbes, Jay bought “Mecca” one of the many masterpieces by Basquiat at a worth of $4.5 million in 2013. And if you’ve listened to Jay’s Magna Carter… Holy Grail for instance, he pays homage to the late prodigy, calling himself “the new Jean-Michel.”
Then came the Twitter backlash from the 128.54-carat stone Tiffany diamond Beyonce wore. The diamond was acquired by Tiffany & Co. in 1877 at South Africa’s Kimberley diamond mine, effectively making it a “blood diamond” — which are diamonds mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, an invading army’s war efforts, or a warlord‘s activity.”
“With all the money @Beyonce spends on bodyguards, security & image control. Her handlers allowed her to be associated with a blood diamond that has NOTHING to do with love,” remarked one Twitter user.
Beyonće’s mom, Tina Knowles, went in on social media saying “How many of you socially conscious activists own diamonds? I thought so! Well, guess what, did you go to try to check to see where the diamond came from? Probably not!”
Admittedly, The Carters should have fact-checked the diamond to learn of its origin. This is an obvious oversight in due diligence from these business-savvy moguls.
Basquiat painting and blood diamond conversations aside, this was a win for the culture. Sometimes we have to weigh the good with the bad and keep it moving. Overall, as part of partnering with the Carters, Tiffany & Co. donated $2 million dollars to internship & sponsorship programs for HBCUs. We can be proud that these two powerful individuals continue to elevate the conversation and represent for the culture. Kudos Carters.