Few African literary personalities are as intriguing as Akwaeke Emezi, whose work in literature and film has established her as a multi-talented artist.
This past weekend Emezi, who is looking forward to the February 2018 release of her debut novel Freshwater, shared the delightful news about her appearance in Jay Z’s “4:44” video. “The ogbanje glimmers through a jay-z video,” she writes on Twitter.
✨ the ogbanje glimmers through a jay-z video ✨
2:20-2:24 | 4:44 pic.twitter.com/BdtUggUyLn
— akwaeke emezi (@azemezi) July 8, 2017
Emezi sees this experience as a life-affirming one. Understandably so. Having a debut novel in hand and snagging a spot in a Jay Z video amount to a feat worth celebrating. In a follow-up Instagram post, pictured above, she describes the circumstances that led to her participation in the video shoot:
a couple of weeks ago, i was in bulgaria when @anamibia invited me to be in jay-z’s 4:44 video, which sounded like an incredibly fun project, so i was like — sure, but i’m only in the US for four days. turns out those were the exact days the shoot was happening, so i got to NY, flew to LA, did the shoot, and had to fly back to NY for a meeting about #FRESHWATER🌊 before leaving for singapore. sitting in that meeting, i was like wow i’m really here plotting strategy for my debut novel just off a redeye from a jay-z video shoot, like…this is my life now. and here’s the thing, it fits. i don’t feel like an imposter, i feel like i’m doing dope shit i *should* be doing. the original concept changed into something else but jafa kept short clips of his son + i in it anyway — “y’all are ghosts from a previous iteration of the video.” i love that – the glimmer, a ghost, that disjoint placement, a double take in the dark of night, sliding past into something else, am i even real…
This is exciting news. More and more African writers are embracing the multiple intersections that link them to other creative fields. It adds complexity to their identity and enriches their creative expression.
Before we sign off, though, we have to make the comparison that we know you’re also thinking about. Adichie is featured on Beyonce’s track. Emezi gets a cameo in Jay Z’s music video. Adichie and Emezi are signed on to the same literary agency. And both authors have indeed met and worked together in the past. What do you guys think? Is Emezi the next Adichie?