Wednesday, Netflix released The Harder They Fall, an all-Black, American Western film, on their streaming services.
Set in the wild west, the film follows the thrilling tale of a revenge-seeking outlaw who decides to reunite his gang after discovering that his enemy has been released from prison. Though fictional, the film’s characters are based off of real life Black cowboys and cowgirls.
Directed by British singer-songwriter, music producer, and filmmaker Jeymes Samuel, The Harder They Fall brilliantly features an all-Black ensemble cast, including some huge names in Hollywood right now. The cast includes the likes of Idris Elba and Regina King, as well as rising stars, Lakeith Stanfield, Jonathan Majors, and Zazie Beetz.
On Tuesday, Grammy-award-winning rapper and businessman, Jay-Z raised eyebrows with his bizarre Instagram activity. Joining the social media platform that same day, Jay Z posted a single picture promoting The Harder They Fall before mysteriously deactivating his account less than 48 hours later. Many have speculated that the rap mogul’s unusual Instagram behavior was just a publicity stunt done to bring more attention to the film’s next-day release.
Jay Z is credited as a producer on the film and reportedly also wrote and co-produced original music for the film’s soundtrack alongside Jeymes Samuel and James Lassiter.
Despite the fact that Jay-Z’s Instagram account spontaneously cropping up may have just been a clever marketing tactic, it seems to have been done with good intentions at heart.
Last month at the film’s premiere in Los Angeles, Jay-Z told Entertainment Tonight, “I just love to be a part of a project that widens the lens. Once it's widened for us, it's widened for Asians. For Mexicans. For everyone.”
Jay-Z later went on to divulge more into the importance of Black representation in the Western film genre by stating, “[Growing Up] one of the only things on public television was Westerns every week, and we weren’t represented in those. (…) In fact, our characters were taken from us. The Lone Ranger was based on one of the characters from this film.”
Historically, Black cowpoke representation in Westerns has been little to none, though, with the creation of films like The Harder They Fall that depict a part of American history that is often forgotten, there is hope that the lens will widen, and the door will open for many other Black stories to be told with accuracy.
The Harder They Fall is available for streaming now on Netflix.