Serena Williams shared the newest Beats By Dre ad to her millions of followers featuring her, rapper Nas and a short cameo by Nicki Minaj.
The ad aptly titled, “Queen of Queens,” takes place in, you guessed it–Queens, begins with Nas as he introduces Williams who plays both the protagonist and antagonist in her struggle between mom and athlete.
Often, we’re told we have to choose, but the only decision we really need to make is whether or not to show the world what we’re really made of. 👑 @beatsbydre
A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on Aug 27, 2018 at 3:19pm PDT
While the visuals of the ad are powerful, highlighting the daily turmoil women grapple with feeling forced to pick between their family and career–Williams ultimately chooses neither and decides to exist as both.
As the last chord in the commercial fades, I realized I hadn’t seen Nas in a while and was actually shocked that he appeared in the ad. I thought back to the last few times that he came up in my mind and I could whittle it down to two occasions: once after the June release of his album Nasir and then when his ex-wife, singer and renown chef Kelis, came forward to reveal that she suffered abuse at the hands of the rapper during their five-year marriage.
While I’ve already gone into great detail about my thoughts on Mr. Jones and his legacy in regards to the abuse allegations, it was striking to me that the ad, which leans so heavily on women’s empowerment, would use Nas.
While I don’t believe the public shares a lot of the same sentiment that I do, (most have moved on, or either refuse to believe Kelis and her account) I think advertisers like Beats by Dre have a certain accountability in the current climate to shy away from being tone-deaf. The company, previously owned by music moguls Dr. Dre and Jimmy Levine, was sold to Apple in 2015 for a whooping $3 billion. But even Dr. Dre himself has battled multiple allegations of domestic violence.
While Queens may be the home and birthplace of Nas, a rap icon, the visual imagery of him introducing Serena in her queendom was troubling to say the least. In the era of “get your money Black man,” I’m fully aware that a Beats By Dre check produced massive income for the Queensbridge rapper. However, I leave with the old adage of Matthew 16:26: “For what profits a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?”