Beyoncé and Jay-Z's "Apes**t" Video Included This Major Reference and Everyone Missed It

It's at the very end.

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

Early Saturday evening, Beyoncé and Jay-Z released a surprise album, Everything Is Love, out of the blue—and simultaneously dropped a music video for the album's second track, "Apes**t." The music video is filmed in the Louvre, and features a ton of artwork (including the actual Mona Lisa) as its backdrop. And as Vox writer Constance Grady points out, the inclusion of one portrait at 5:37 of the music video speaks volumes.

Writes Grady: "So this is the painting at the end of the Apeshit video for #EverythingIsLove btw. it's "Portrait of a Black Woman (Negress)" by Marie-Guillemine Benoist. it's one of the only pre-20th c portraits of a black person in the Louvre that's not explicitly a portrait of a slave."

Benoist painted "Portrait of a Black Woman (Negress)" just a few years after the official end of slavery, and it swiftly became a symbol of emancipation. Yet the echoes of slavery hang over the subject of the painting, and continue to hang over people of color in the U.S. (in a recent New York Times interview, Jay-Z quoted his sort-of friend Kanye: "Racism's still alive, they just be concealin' it"). The close-up of Benoist's painting is a symbol you can read in a variety of ways—but a symbol nonetheless.

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(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

There are other references to race relations in "Apes**t." At one point, Jay-Z appears to reference unconfirmed reports that he turned down an offer to perform at the last Super Bowl, apparently in support of Colin Kaepernick. "I said no to the Super Bowl," Jay-Z says in the song. "You need me, I don't need you/ Every night we in the endzone/ Tell the NFL we in stadiums too."

You can watch the full "Apes**t" video below.

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Jenny Hollander
Digital Director

Jenny is the Digital Director at Marie Claire. A graduate of Leeds University, and a native of London, she moved to New York in 2012 to attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She was the first intern at Bustle when it launched in 2013, and spent five years building out its news and politics department. In 2018 she joined Marie Claire, where she held the roles of Deputy Digital Editor and Director of Content Strategy before becoming Digital Director. Working closely with Marie Claire's exceptional editorial, audience, commercial, and e-commerce teams, Jenny oversees the brand's digital arm, with an emphasis on driving readership. When she isn't editing or knee-deep in Google Analytics, you can find Jenny writing about television, celebrities, her lifelong hate of umbrellas, or (most likely) her dog, Captain. In her spare time, she also writes fiction: her first novel, the thriller EVERYONE WHO CAN FORGIVE ME IS DEAD, was published with Minotaur Books (UK) and Little, Brown (US) in February 2024 and became a USA Today bestseller. She has also written extensively about developmental coordination disorder, or dyspraxia, which she was diagnosed with when she was nine. She is currently working on her second novel.