Album Review: Jay’s Surprising Star-Packed ‘Gatsby’ Mixtape
Hova salutes a fellow large-living New Yorker with help from Beyoncé, Jack White and more
This ain’t your great-grandfather’s West Egg. Jay-Z executive-produced this score, which infuses F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age tale with the sounds of the hip-hop age. The result is an unusually diverting mixtape, with an all-star lineup: Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” is here – in a jauntily jitterbugging cover version by the Bryan Ferry Orchestra, with vocals by British soul upstart Emeli Sandé. Queen B herself teams with André 3000 for a moodily downtempo version of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.” There are other surprises: Jack White stomps and howls through U2’s “Love Is Blindness.” Gotye’s “Hearts a Mess” is an insinuating piece of neo-lounge ballad. The xx sound – mesmerizingly – like the xx.
Not everything works. Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” is meant to be one of the album’s centerpieces; instead, it’s inert, a drag. But the LP conjures a consistent mood of noirish, doomed romance – and succeeds, in songs like Will.i.am’s lovably doofy “Bang Bang,” in mashing up hip-hop with 1920s-style dance music. Then there’s Jay-Z, whose “100$ Bills” draws witty comparisons between the nouveau riches of the Roaring Twenties and our own 21st-century Gatsbys. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly to the 40/40 Club.
Key tracks: “100$ Bills,” “Back to Black”
Listen to a sampler from The Great Gatsby: Music From Baz Luhrmann’s Film here