You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours! These words are part of a rollicking structure of rap that calls out some of the perks and setbacks of fame. “Holy Grail” is a song in American born hip hop artist’s Jay-Z’s 12th album, and it features Justin Timberlake offering his vocals. The two of these artists, and some of the other contributors, have surely shared some of the grief and blessings of fame. The message of the song is that it’s their lot to accept both sides of the coin of fame, and their acceptance that they can’t have one without the other.
The song raps about it being light work to have to deal with the paparazzi, hot and cold love affairs, women pursuing them, cameras constantly snapping and other inconveniences. They are still alive! — the song reminds for those who would complain of the downside of fame. It also indicates that the upside is a cup that runs over, and that the icons of fame have things that some people would die for; and therefore should not throw the baby out with the bath water.
The video images are simple and without frills. It opens with amber streams of light and then Jay-Z enters the scene in hip hop mode and begins spitting rhymes. In the next scene he’s watching a TV screen depicting Mike Tyson in the fighting ring. The hip hop artists mention how Tyson won 30 million for one night in the ring. After a few other screen shots, Timberlake slowly enters the scene singing and walking toward an opulent gateway.
The former teen heart throb soon enters a darkened room where sheath covered dancers with chair props move and flow in a slow motion that matches the tempo of the song. It is here he keeps asking as to why he still likes the life so much as the shots then volley between Timberlake and Jay-Z, with their tracks of lyrics sometimes running simultaneously. One shot features an upside down car burning as Timberlake watches.
The next shot shows a stack of filled champagne glasses as they slowly topple as Timberlake repeats various lyrics, while one by one, the glasses tumble to the ground spilling into a large volume of champagne. Jay-Z also repeats the meaning as to why they like the life style so much with both of them performing dance moves and sharing lyrical rifts.
The song was produced under the Roc-a-Fella Roc Nation Universal. Timberlake, Shawn Carter, Terius “The Dream,” Nash, Timothy Mosley, Jerome Harmon, Ernest Wilson, Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic are all listed as writers. The video was produced by The-Dream, Timbaland, Jerome “J-roc” Harmon and No ID. Anthony Mandler is listed as the director of record. The video was released exclusively on Facebook in August – and this is something that no other artist of Jay-Z’s or Timberlake’s magnitude had ever done. He and Timberlake performed it at the Wireless Festival in London in July.