Jay-Z to produce, contribute to ‘Great Gatsby’ soundtrack

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By Breeanna Hare

(CNN) — Now Baz Luhrmann’s repeated use of Jay-Z’s music in the “Great Gatsby” trailers makes even more sense.

The rapper/industry mogul is going to produce the soundtrack to Luhrmann’s film, slated to bow in the U.S. May 10 before it opens the Cannes Film Festival on May 15.

Technically, according to a statement, Jay’s an executive producer on the adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic. His job includes “procuring, performing, producing and arranging for a soundtrack featuring some of the world’s top musical artists.”

The rapper’s efforts to that end coincide with those of composer Craig Armstrong, who crafted the movie’s score.

The statement also reveals that Jay and Luhrmann were introduced by “Gatsby’s” Leonardo DiCaprio, who portrays the “Great” character at the center of the tale.

“As soon as I spoke with Baz and Leonardo, I knew this was the right project,” Jay said. “‘The Great Gatsby’ is that classic American story of one’s introduction to extravagance, decadence and illusion. It’s ripe for experimentation and ready to be interpreted with a modern twist. The imagination Baz brought to ‘Moulin Rouge’ made it a masterpiece, and ‘Romeo + Juliet’s’ score wasn’t just in the background; the music became a character. This film’s vision and direction has all the makings of an epic experience.”

To give the film a “1920s”-meets-the-present spin, Jay’s also contributing original music to the soundtrack. In order to infuse the film’s music with the essence of what Fitzgerald put on the page, Jay and writer/producer/director Luhrmann spent two years collaboratively working to “capture, translate and contrast the feelings of Fitzgerald’s decadent era with that of our own, using hip-hop and jazz, music contemporary and period, to bring two distinct American moments to simultaneous life,” the statement said.

In Luhrmann’s eyes, having Jay in this capacity was a “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 story using the immediacy of pop culture. He coined the phrase ‘the Jazz Age,'” Luhrmann said. “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.

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