It’s a good day for Roc Nation. Thursday morning (June 21), JAY-Z was awarded the Grand Prix for Excellence in Music Video with “Smile” at the 2018 Lion Awards. Directed by Miles Jay, the video authentically reveals the story of the Brooklyn native’s mother, Gloria Carter, and her struggle to raise her four kids in the Marcy Projects.
Despite weeks of negotiations, Jay and his team were able to gain access to shoot in the apartment that he and his mother lived in throughout the 70s. Through historical research, Ms. Carter’s memory and family photo albums, Roc Nation was able to recreate the rapper’s childhood home and bring the 1970 neighborhood to life.
After Jay learned that his mother was hiding her sexual identity to try and raise her family, Jay wrote “Smile,” the third track off his most personal album 4:44, to act as an ode to his mother for smiling through adversity. Though meeting her son with resistance at first, Ms. Carter eventually agreed to sacrifice her privacy and allowed Jay to spread her powerful message, and rightfully so.
The Lions are the most established and coveted awards for the creative and marketing communications industry. Taking place each June at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, the Lion Awards solidify elite achievement. According to the website, earning an award from the festival is “an ultimate achievement in creativity” and “gives 54 percent higher ROI than non-creatively awarded work.”
As one of the most prominent and successful brands in entertainment, JAY-Z doesn’t need the ROI (return on investment). Even with his legacy forever imprinted in hip-hop’s history, the video for “Smile” gives us a glimpse of his life from a fresh perspective, engaging us with the new knowledge that his diligence, grace, strength, and smile were all given to him by his mother.
Other nominees included Kendrick Lamar, Logic, A$AP Rocky, and Drake.