So Jay Hova will be scoring tunes for Jay Gatsby, huh? Fans could barely contain their excitement after the Bullitts revealed on Twitter that he and Jay-Z were teaming up to score the upcoming “Great Gatsby” film.
While we still have no idea exactly what Jigga’s contribution to Baz Luhrmann’s movie will be, we do know his Watch the Throne single “No Church in the Wild” appears in the movie’s trailer, which was released last May. And although an “American Gangster”-style soundtrack would be fine by us, we’re not sure how rap tunes would fit in with the 1920’s-set flick starring Leonardo DiCaprio and based, of course, on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary classic.
Still, the lack of details about this project has only made our imaginations run wilder. After all, the two Jays (the rapper and the title character) have a similar rags-to-riches mystique. If the filmmakers wanted to, they could easily create a fitting soundtrack plucked from Hov’s colorful discography. But since we’re sure they’re busy putting the finishing touches on the May 10 flick, MTV News decided to help out a bit and gather a collection of Jigga’s most “Gatsby”-esque tracks for a fantasy score.
“In My Lifetime (Remix)”
Newer Hov fans may not be as familiar with Jay-Z’s earlier work, but die-hards know all about this pre-Reasonable Doubt gem. On the Big Jaz-produced, independently released single, Shawn Carter ponders the meaning of life while getting his first taste of millionaire spoils thanks to an illegal street hustle.
“Dead Presidents I & II”
Like Gatsby, Hov was initially an enigma. Back in 1996, a rapper would have to experience platinum success before he could hit fans with the big-money talk, but not Jigga. On this ’96 single, the little-known Brooklyn hustler thrilled fans with lavish bars. “Got the city drinkin’ Cristal, we up’d the fee/ Rappers goin’ broke, tryin’ to keep up with me,” he spit at a time when most MCs were boasting about downing 40 ounces of malt liquor.
“Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)”
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel is the ultimate rags-to-riches story about a man so driven by love and the American Dream that he would go to creative and crafty lengths for a taste of the good life. On Jay’s classic “Hard Knock Life,” he exhibited the same drive. Like Gatsby, Hov came up as a hustler, but rather than hide in shame over his shady past, Jay embraced it and employed a clever “Annie” sample to boot.
“I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)”
The Great Jay Gatsby would throw the swankiest of house parties in hopes of luring his true love Daisy Buchanan to his Long Island, New York, mansion. And on this Neptunes-produced club banger, Hov details the ultimate soiree, one where girls dance with girls and all the club patrons sing the famous Carl Thomas “I wish I never met her at all” lyric in drunken unison. Seeing as to how the novel ends with a series lovelorn murders, we’re pretty sure Gatsby could relate.
Before Jay dropped 2001’s The Blueprint, he was widely perceived as a heartless playboy. But after pouring his hustling heart out on the Just Blaze-produced “Song Cry,” the God MC’s image began to change. Just as Jigga longed for a lost love on this track, Gatsby did too, but little did the literary lothario know that his yearning would lead to his downfall.
“Empire State of Mind”
Like moths to a flame, ambitious entrepreneurs are drawn to the bright lights of New York City. On this chart-topping single, Jigga raps of his hometown’s allure, but on the final verses he also warns of the dangers that await unsuspecting transplants. In the end, Jay Gatsby’s Midwestern ambition was no match for the Big Apple.
Here’s the downside to having such a plentiful catalog: Some jewels get overlooked, including this Pharrell Williams-assisted cut from Jay’s 2009 The Blueprint III LP. With the first line in the first verse, Jigga describes being discouraged by a school teacher growing up. “I felt so inspired by what my teacher said/ Said I’d either be dead or a reefer head,” he raps before detailing his climb from the crack game to the rap game. We wonder if anyone ever told James Gatz that all he’d ever be was a love-obsessed bootlegger.
“Made In America” (with the Throne’s Kanye West)
“The Great Gatsby” is widely heralded as the great American novel. Jay Gatsby, like Jay-Z, came from humble beginnings but both men had visions that far surpassed their immediate surroundings. In the end, isn’t that what it’s all about, though? To be able to celebrate your success, sit back and sing lyrics like “we made it in America”?
Check out everything we’ve got on “Great Gatsby”
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