Throughout his career as a rapper, producer, and celebrity icon, Jay-Z has been a proxy for conceptions of luxury, self-indulgence, affluence, and all-around hedonism. These are probably the very tools of his trade which drew director Lars von Trier to the notorious hip-hop artist in the first place.
Jay-Z‘s original contribution to the personally curated soundtrack for the new adaptation of The Great Gatsby boldly establishes his artistic direction for the film score. It’s a little swatch of anachronism decked out with hyper-contemporary allusions (i.e. The xx, Nero) that serve to revolutionize and glamorize the past.
Along with an arguably excessive number of lines from the film, Jay-Z samples a jittery ragtime brass melody that situates the listener within the cozy timeframe of the 1920s. The beat he first constructs, however, is an impossibly sharp, trip-hop expression rooted in experimentalism and reinforced by an assumedly African tribal percussion rhythm.
The lyrics are as impassioned and controversial as ever, taking shots at politicians and Taylor Swift among others, but they also highlight the overarching theme of The Great Gatsby. As Jay-Z does not hesitate to repeat: “Decade of decadence/ ill reverence, ill reverence.” The soundtrack is available for streaming in its entirety at NPR here, and tomorrow, May 7th, it will be released worldwide.