When rapper/entrepreneur Jay-Z was reported to be "scoring" Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" the first thing we were asked was, why didn't we report this? Well, for one, we're sticklers for language. You wouldn't say Diablo Cody wrote "Evil Dead" if she just did a dialogue pass on it, right? Well, there's that and there's the fact that longtime Luhrmann composer Craig Armstrong was listed as the composer for the movie from the very first (and all subsequent) trailers. So while it sounded nice, it likely wasn't quite right, but of course WB wouldn't comment, so we had to wait. (But yes, Jay-Z and Kanye West's "No Church In The Wild" features in the trailers).
However, a press notice released this afternoon clarifies Hova's role. So what's the deal and what's Jay's involvement exactly? Well, according to release, Shawn Carter's been named the Soundtrack Executive Producer, which will see him procuring, performing, producing and arranging for the soundtrack. Yes, it's a big deal, but it's not quite an orchestral score to guide the emotional narrative of the film; the type that Armstrong is king at (and Jay, while great, has no experience with yet, and it's not an easy role to pick up easily unless you're a Jonny Greenwood like savante). Evidently, what Jay-Z helped work on, is a “1920s-Meets-Now” sound. While no deets are out yet, it's also said he's a "a performer and contributor of original music" on the soundtrack so we should expect a least one new Jigga song.
Luhrmann called the collaboration with Jay-Z “a credible and natural fit. Fitzgerald was a pioneer, famed and controversial for using the then-new and explosive sound called jazz in his novels and short stories—not just as decoration, but to actively tell the story using the immediacy of pop culture. He coined the phrase ‘the Jazz Age.’ So, the question for me in approaching 'Gatsby' was how to elicit from our audience the same level of excitement and pop-cultural immediacy toward the world that Fitzgerald did for his audience? And in our age, the energy of jazz is caught in the energy of hip-hop. Not only is Jay-Z a great artist, full stop, but I had heard that he was a great collaborator. Leonardo and I were lucky enough to be present in a recording session over two years ago as Jay-Z was recording ‘No Church in the Wild,’ and the collaboration grew from there.”
“The Great Gatsby” soundtrack will be released by Interscope Records later this year. Despite opening on May 10th in the U.S., "The Great Gatsby" -- which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton among others -- will make its international (but not world) debut and open the Cannes Film Festival on May 15th.