Jay-Z is back on Instagram, again. The hip-hop mogul who has long been one of the most prominent A-list holdouts on the service uploaded his first — and so far only — post on Tuesday morning (Aug. 29): the trailer for the Biblical epic The Book of Clarence.
The drama executive produced by Jay stars Atlanta‘s LaKeith Stanfield as Clarence, described as a Jerusalem native who is a “streetwise but down-on-his-luck” man struggling to make a better life for his family while trying to emerge from debt.
Jay’s posting of the film’s first trailer is significant because it, technically, marks his first Instagram post. But back in 2021, Hov briefly went Instagram official to promote another film he executive produced, the revenge Western The Harder They Fall, before shutting down his page a day later.
The Sony/TriStar Pictures/Legendary Pictures production was directed by Jeymes Samuel, who was also behind the camera for The Harder They Fall, his directorial debut that featured Stanfield. Clarence, due in theaters on Jan. 12, also stars Omar Sy, RJ Cyler, Benedict Cumberbatch, James McAvoy, Anna Diop, David Oyelowo, Alfre Woodard and Teyana Taylor.
“I wanted to tell a Bible story about an everyman,” Samuel told Vanity Fair of his effort to put Black characters at the center of a genre drama in the same way he did with Harder. “I always wanted to explore the Bible stories, but from the angle of the person that sells Jesus his sandals, the woman or man that owns the hair salon.”
Producer Hov told the magazine that he worried that people who heard the the premise might “immediately just focus on the religious aspect of it and not the human story,” with the piece noting that the film doesn’t make fun o religion or Biblical stories, but “rather attempts to expand that world.” The trailer features a reimagined version of Prince’s Purple Rain classic “I Would Die 4 U” over scenes from Clarence’s spiritual awakening, including one in which a Roman soldier asks Clarence to prove his Messianic powers by walking on water.
“This story is about a young man who finds his faith through love and through wanting to become somebody in the world, which is the story of everybody,” Jay said.
“Everyone wants to find love and everyone wants to leave this place having accomplished something, having left their mark that they’ve been here and hopefully affected the world in a positive way.”