Jay-Z Or Jazz? ‘Great Gatsby’ Has Both, Baz Luhrmann Says

'We've got to do this!' Luhrmann recalls the rapper saying when the director suggested they collaborate on the soundtrack.

Wondering how director Baz Luhrmann recruited Jay-Z to create much of the music for his adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”? The filmmaker told MTV News it was a super early screening of the film that got the rapper into an empire state of mind.

“Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz were two of the first people to see a rough cut of the film,” Luhrmann revealed. “Jay watched it, and he was fantastic. He and Swizz were talking. I’m like, ‘What are they talking about?’ And at the end, [Jay-Z] said, ‘This story is not about how Jay Gatsby made his money; it’s is he a good person or not.’

“He totally nailed that the book was aspirational,” Luhrmann observed. “That the book was really about, if you’ve got a cause, you can move towards a green light. That you don’t reach it isn’t the point; that you aspire is.”

Luhrmann explained that he wanted the film to update the energy that Fitzgerald’s novel captured by placing its story within the context of “the jazz age.”

“I showed [Jay-Z] my little video of how we had to find a way of making the jazz, blend it between hip-hop and all kinds of music,” he said. “And I was about halfway through it, and Jay [seemed really into it]. And I said, ‘Maybe you’d be interested?’ And he looked up like, ‘What are you talking about interested? We’ve got to do this!’ ”

Watch the video from more details about Luhrmann’s use of contemporary music to frame his chronicle of the American 1920s. And then see — and hear — the movie for yourself when “The Great Gatsby” opens Friday.

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Great Gatsby.”