NEW YORK — Jay-Z didn't have a moment to waste.
A large group of media-types, industry executives and DJs had gathered at Tribeca Screening Room Thursday night for the debut of the uncut version of Jay's controversial new video for "99 Problems." But Hov had pressing business elsewhere.
"I really have to go," said a smiling Jay, clad in a dark gray three-button suit, pink shirt and pink-and-gray tie. "I have a team in the playoffs."
"Do your thing, pa, get that championship!" a supporter shouted back at him.
But before Jay left for Madison Square Garden to see his New Jersey Nets beat the New York Knicks in the third game of the NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs, he spoke briefly about the video. Hov explained that he wasn’t really passionate about making his last two clips, "Change Clothes" and "Dirt off Your Shoulder," and that this time, he really wanted to get artistic and show an uglier, bleaker side of Brooklyn.
"I said, 'I want to shoot a pissy wall,' " Jay said. "You know how a photographer can make a pissy wall look like art? That's what I wanted."
Director Mark Romanek (Johnny Cash's "Hurt," Michael Jackson's "Scream") lived up to Hov's expectations: "99 Problems" is arguably Jay's most uncompromising and stark video to date. Featuring guest appearances from actor Vincent Gallo and Rick Rubin (the track's producer), the uncut version features lurid prison scenes, cockfighting, a funeral, and — most shocking — Jay getting riddled with bullets toward the clip's close. That scene drew a gasp from some members of the audience at the Tribeca.
Jigga said he has already butted heads with MTV and BET about airing his clip and joked that he feels like Madonna when she went through her video controversies.
MTV has agreed to play the clip with the scene of Jay-Z getting murdered at the end, but only after a airing a news piece that features Jay talking with Sway about his motivation for the provocative video.
"99 Problems" makes its national debut on MTV2 Sunday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET on "Making the Video." It will air again on MTV Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET. A transcript of Sway's interview with Jay will be on MTVNews.com Sunday.
For more on Jay-Z, check out the feature "99 Problems, Hundreds Of Rumors."