Jay-Z On Scoring ‘Great Gatsby’: ‘Jazz Was Underground Like Hip-Hop’

By Maurice Bobb with reporting by James Montgomery

Diehard fans of the classic novel, “The Great Gatsby,” were understandably perplexed when the movie trailers for the Baz Luhrmann-directed film adaptation started rolling out replete with A-list actors, lavish set design,  big-budget cinematography and “No Church in the Wild,” a song by Jay-Z and Kanye West, playing in the background. Exactly how did that happen?

 ”Baz and Leo came to a recording session, and I was working on a song called ‘No Church in the Wild,’” Jay-Z told MTV News of the incongruous collaboration. “We just talked about the art of collaborating. I guess that was the seed of the idea.”

The track from the Watch the Throne LP may have been a head-scratcher for most, but for Luhrmann, it was seamless; proof positive that yesteryear’s Jazz songs aren’t much different from those of today’s hip-hop variety, a vision shared by Jay.

“Jazz was this almost underground music at the time, like hip-hop started out. I like to think of it as a character, because it’s so interwoven into the storyline,” Jay-Z added. “He’s seamlessly shifting different eras of music together, which I thought was genius process. That’s one of the things Baz has a reputation for: Treating the music like another star.”

In addition to his work scoring the film, Hov oversaw the movie’s soundtrack, which features one of his own new songs, “100$ Bill,” and songs from Florence and the Machine, will.i.am, Andre 3000 and, of course, his wife Beyonce. As the man who introduced Baz and Jay, the film’s star was genuinely excited about the Roc Nation Sports agent’s overall influence on the sound of the rollicking visual update of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless tale.

“As much as Baz is a great filmmaker, he is a fanatic about music as well,” DiCaprio said. “I love how infusing hip hop makes you understand the cultural references, what it would be like if these people existed today.”