Shawn Carter AKA Jay-Z AKA Hova turned 43 on December 4, but the eminently successful rapper has decided to flip the script by giving all of us a present. Jay-Z has released Where I’m From, a 22-minute documentary, exclusively on his Life + Times YouTube channel.
Where I’m From follows Jay-Z as he prepares for and performs eight concerts to inaugurate the Barclays Center, the new arena of the Brooklyn Nets. The documentary mostly takes place within the arena itself, which is located a short train ride away from Jay-Z’s childhood home in Brooklyn. Throughout the film’s runtime, we see how Jay-Z psyches himself up for his shows and how his various crew members fit into the equation.
One scene has been making the rounds on the Internet, hitting the front page of Reddit and several major news outlets. The scene features Jay-Z riding the subway to the Barclays Center, where he encounters visual artist Ellen Grossman, who has no idea who he is. As several commenters have noted, it’s a way more interesting scene than the many rap videos featuring money and scantily-clad women.
In its first day on YouTube, Where I’m From has already been viewed over 179,000 times. The documentary’s release allowed Jay-Z’s official channel (branded around his Life + Times magazine) to see a noticeable subscriber bump as well, with more than 1300 people subbing his channel on December 4th alone.
We previously wrote about some of YouTube’s popular stars finding a place on Spotify’s most shared list alongside Jay-Z, and we took it as an indicator that online video was starting to break into the mainstream. Where I’m From shows that we had it backwards: it’s the mainstream that’s breaking into online video. Jay-Z, I commend you, wish you a happy birthday, and urge you to switch your allegiance to my favorite basketball team (there’s still time!)