There have been a few African-American musicians who have scored major motion pictures. Some have even won Academy Awards, such as Prince who became the first black winner of Best Original Song Score for 1984’s Purple Rain and Herbie Hancock who became the first black winner of Best Original Score for 1986’s Round Midnight. Now Jay-Z may add composer to his list of music credits.
Hollywood is abuzz with the news that the Jigga will score The Great Gatsby alongside The Bullitts. “Rumors of Jay-Z’s participation with the film started swirling when the first trailer debuted online in May,” reports Billboard. “Director Baz Luhrmann chose Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne track, ‘No Church in the Wild,’ as the music for the film’s trailer.” According to reports, the soundtrack may include songs from a range of artists — from Prince to Lady Gaga. The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan, opens on May 10.
There have been many hip-hop artists who have worked on scores for rap features, but Jay-Z may be the first hip-hop artists to score a general audience feature film. Various African-American musicians of other genres have scored feature films, going back to Duke Ellington, who was the first back person to be nominated for Best Original Score for the film Paris Blues in 1961. Other musicians who have scored films and have been nominated for an Oscar include Quincy Jones (In Cold Blood, 1967; The Wiz, 1978; The Color Purple, 1985), Isaac Hayes (Shaft, 1971), and Terence Blanchard, who has scored a number of Spike Lee movies including Malcolm X and When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, among other movies. The most prolific probably is Jones who has scored more than 50 film projects.
It will be interesting to see if Jay-Z will be nominated — or even win — an Academy Award for his Gatsby composition. ICYMI: The trailer for the film is available on the next page.