JayZ and Hype Williams Put a New Twist on Slim Aarons

With his music and sports-management company Roc Nation, streaming service Tidal, and more businesses, Jay-Z is the epitome of a mogul. The rapper’s latest venture is a cannabis brand called Monogram, and a new ad campaign for the company shows that he is just as creative as he is shrewd.

The billionaire enlisted legendary music video director Hype Williams to photograph the campaign, which is a play on the legendary work of Slim Aarons. During the mid-20th century, Aarons became known for his pictures of celebrities and glamorous people socializing and indulging. His subject matter was “attractive people, doing attractive things in attractive places,” he famously said. The Monogram campaign hits the same note, but with cannabis at the forefront. “The perception around cannabis has shifted a lot since the 20th century. If you were to ask me and my peers how we’d define the good life today, weed would definitely be a part of it,” said Williams. Grammy-nominated artist Chika, model Slick Woods, rapper Curren$y, the trio of chefs who make up Ghetto Gastro, and stylist Aleali May are among the subjects who indulge in weed in and around the pool at the Frank Sinatra House in Palm Springs in the photos.

Aarons’s pictures “Keep Your Cool,” “Desert House Party,” “Poolside Gossip,” and “Leisure and Fashion” were all recreated. Of the four, Aarons shot two of those at the Richard Neutra–designed Kaufmann Desert House in Palm Springs. Once home to singer Barry Manilow, the dwelling, made of glass, steel, and stone, is a prime example of modern architecture. As recently as February, it was on the market for $25 million.

The Monogram shoot did not take place there, but Williams, Jay-Z, and company found a place nearby that is perhaps just as iconic. They shot at Twin Palms, a modern home built by architect E. Stewart Williams for Frank Sinatra in 1946 (the Neutra house was built one year later). Today, Sinatra’s modern-style desert hideaway is available as a vacation rental—and if you want to recreate these photos yourself, it will set you back $3,300 per night to rent the place on Airbnb.
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