No symbolism is lost on the Carters. When Beyoncé and JAY-Z announced yesterday that they're launching a joint this summer, the power couple dropped a soon-to-be-iconic tour promo trailer, which includes gorgeous black-and-white stills of the two straddling a cow-skull-fronted motorbike. It turns out, the artistic imagery is a deliberate reference and homage to the 1970's classic African film, Touki Bouki.
The 1973 Senegalese motion picture was written and directed byWolof, a native language of Senegal, and its title to "The Hyena's Journey." The story follows a young couple from Dakar, Senegal's capital, who steal and scheme to acquire the money to travel to Paris, their dream city. The leading pair is reminiscent of Bonny and Clyde (whom Bey and JAY have before) and they're literally on the run.
Loyal Carter fans and African cinema aficionados alike were quick to pick up the clear nod to Touki Bouki in the OTR II tour ads. Some tweeted side-by-side grabs of the movie poster next to the intimate shot of Beyonce and JAY-Z.
Many fans chimed in their respect and appreciation for the tribute to West African history.
But the couple was not immune from backlash. Some supporters noted that the Carters did not explicitly give credit to Mambéty for inspiring the OTR II campaign images.
Though Mambéty passed away in 1998, reports that the director's surviving family members were slightly critical of the press tour material, which was unveiled on social media (especially to Bey's 112 million Instagram followers). Mambéty's son, Teemour Diop Mambéty, told Buzzfeed, "We must welcome any creative exchange respecting the integrity of the works and their authors."
The site further reports that Mambéty's niece, Mati Diop, also had choice words to share about the Carters' use of the imagery.
"It seems an art director brought them the image, and no one was concerned about the artistic and political story behind it," to the news outlet, . "There is a lot of talk about the appropriation of American black culture, but it's interesting to see that it's a black American artist, who communicates with it very lightly. It's depressing and fascinating at the same time, the unbearable lightness of the mainstream."
Beyoncé has been known to honor African influences in her music, after , showcasing young and talented in her "Run The World (Girls)" music video, and dramatically during her .
And we likely haven't seen the last of Bey and JAY-Z's culturally symbolic references—there are probably much more to come in this .