A young Jerusalemite produced the groundbreaking and hugely popular new video for leading musical power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
Grammy-nominated producer Natan Schottenfels is responsible for “Apeshit – The Carters,” a dazzling clip filmed in the Louvre that was released on June 16.
“Produced this ICONOCLAST music video for Beyonce and Jay-Z. Directed by Ricky Saiz.” Schottenfels wrote fairly nonchalantly on his Facebook page overnight Saturday-Sunday, as the clip arrived online. “Why not?”
Why not, indeed. As of Tuesday midday, barely three days later, the clip had racked up 18 million views and rising fast.
Schottenfels grew up in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, studied at Hartman, a religious high school, and was active in the Orthodox scouts movement.
In 2017, the two were among the Grammy nominees for their work on Coldplay’s “Up & Up”.
The two work together for Iconoclast, a global production company for whom the clip for Beyoncé and Jay-Z — collectively known as The Carters — was made.
The 6:05-minute video is a bold, intense montage of the iconoclast couple as they move around the Louvre, placing themselves against the powerful backdrop of some of the most famous works of the French museum’s permanent collection, and overpowering the artworks with their own dynamism.
The lyrics of the song reference the wildly famous couple’s status in the world, and the crowds that go “apeshit” for them, while the clip juxtaposes them against the mostly white, overwhelmingly Western slices of European culture on exhibit at the Paris museum.
As the Guardian noted, “Apeshit makes some pithy, if scattershot, comments on racism, slavery and the dominance of western neoclassical aesthetic standards.”
The video was produced for the couple’s new joint album, “Everything is Love,” released the same day, which marks an attempt to cement their relationship after Beyoncé’s accounts of Jay-Z’s infidelities and his followup apology on last year’s “4:44.”
All credit to Schottenfels if his producer responsibilities included keeping word of the shoot secret: There was no warning that this video was coming, although the couple spent an entire day filming in and outside the Louvre, breezing in and out through the French palace of overwhelmingly European culture.
Dressed in fabulous outfits, Jay-Z and Beyoncé redress the balance, rapping in front of a range of works from an Egyptian sphinx to the Venus de Milo to the Mona Lisa, at times joined by their troupe of dancers — strong, black women simply dressed in tank tops and leggings, the better to showcase their strong, supple, powerful bodies.
“Why did Beyoncé and Jay-Z decide to stage their reconciliation track at the world’s most visited museum?” asked the New York Times in a review of the clip. “Swagger, for one thing: That first tracking shot of the couple in front of the Mona Lisa, wearing silk suits of complementary sea-foam green (him) and orchid pink (her), is a first-order power move.”
Presenting themselves as “both outsiders in an elite institution and as heirs to it,” the Times noted, “They have not won admission to the museum; they have taken it over.”
The clip highlights their African American artistry, upstaging this bastion of art and culture, or at least widening its focus.
In front of Jacques-Louis David’s “The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon and the Coronation of Empress Joséphine,” a massive court scene of white dominance and power, Beyoncé and eight black dancers hold hands and begin to dance. The dancers dominate the vast work, completed in 1807, with Beyoncé prominent in a Burberry top and leggings.
As the song goes, “We livin’ lavish, lavish / I got expensive fabrics / I got expensive habits.” Beyonce raps about the jet she bought for Jay-Z, and Patek Philippe timepieces, too.
They stand in front of the Venus de Milo, a white marble creation that is the very representation of classic European art. Beyoncé is strong, lithe and graceful, overpowering the statue behind her.
Jay-Z isn’t at the center of the video, although he’s ever-present, handsome and virile, his hair slightly longer than usual, using his lyrics to hammer home what Beyonce and her dancers offer visually.
As the “Apeshit” video nears its end, Beyoncé moves in front of “The Winged Victory of Samothrace,” drawing the eye to the layered wings of her brilliant white gown, not the statue.
The final shot shows Beyoncé and Jay-Z back in front of the “Mona Lisa,” shifting attention from the mythical gaze of Leonardo’s peerless subject.
“I can’t believe we made it,” they tell us. “This is what we’re thankful for.”
While Schottenfels announcement of his producing role was laconic, the responses on his Facebook page were anything but.
“Sooogooood!!! That must have been so crazy to make!” wrote one friend.
“Whaaat the royal family?” enthused another. “Mazel tov.”