How Jay-Z and Jeymes Samuel Created Film’s Music

For Jeymes Samuel and Jay-Z, music and cinema have always been inextricably linked. Just look at Jay-Z’s 2007 album American gangster, inspired by Ridley Scott’s film of the same name. Or Samuel (whose musical ego is The Bullitts) and Jay-Z’s collaboration on the soundtrack for Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 film adaptation The great Gatsby. Or the short film they did together for “Legacy”, another Jay song 4:44.

Jay-Z said: “Great movies have a melody. CHEAP. “And great songs, you can close your eyes and watch them.”

The harmony between music and movies drives Netflix The harder it is for them to fall, a Western and gory piece co-written and directed by Samuel with the song “Guns Go Bang”, by Samuel, Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, and Jay-Z (who was also a producer on the song). movie). The film reimagines the old Hollywood concept of the West. Musically, it turns epic orchestras influenced by Leonard Bernstein and scores of Ennio Morricone confrontations into reggae and hip-hop.

Now “Guns Go Bang” has made it to the Oscars list in the original song category, while Samuel’s score is shortlisted in the original song category. The duo recently talked to CHEAP to discuss their collaboration and their shared philosophies on music and film.

What is your history with the Western genre and some of the classical music of the West?

JEYMES SAMUEL We both grew up in households where Westerners always watched TV. As Jay said, there weren’t many channels in those days. If your parent is viewing them, you will automatically select it. Our approach to making music is the same as how we approach the rest of The harder it is for them to fall, that’s what we wanted to give the West its own signature, visually and physically. We’re actually going to take it around the world from Jamaica to Nigeria. If you look at the music of old westerners, it’s not the kind of music that was played in cowboy days. When you hear Dean Martin sing “My Rifle, My Pony and Me” in Rio Bravo, Jesse James had never heard of anything like it. It’s always been modern music applied to cowboy movies.

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JAY-Z Things you didn’t think would come naturally together actually did because the West is so popular. People in Jamaica dress like cowboys. They took old western music and dub it.

What about “Guns Go Bang”? Take me through writing that song.

SAMUEL It is not meant in the opening credits. We’ve got an Elvis song – I won’t say what it’s called in case we use it [at some point] – [that] We remixed it into a Jamaican dub version. It’s dope. But then it’s time to put the words to “Guns Go Bang.” I’ve got the verse and chorus going where. Kid Cudi steps in and adds his signature Ziggy Stardust ball touch. Then we put the orchestra in there and it was time for Jay to get on with it, and when he finished, we said, “This is the dumbest opening theme ever.” . I don’t want to say it pushed Elvis away, but it hit the ejection seat on the Batmobile.

JAY-Z At the time, we were doing the editing and paying attention to the story and making sure it was true. Obviously, it’s a fictional story, but these [characters] are real people and we want to pay our respects to them. That’s what I thought when I heard those strings. And I basically told the story of the movie in those 12 bars. It goes back and forth from any angle – sometimes it’s Nat Love [Jonathan Majors] say, sometimes it’s Rufus Buck [Idris Elba], sometimes both. “A father’s sins darken the threshold, children become friends” – that’s Nat Love. It’s an opportunity as a writer to explore the intricacies of these characters and explore the travel between these voices.

Cinema and music are inextricably linked in the art you create. How can the language of music and movies inform each other?

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SAMUEL I always say that I see music and I hear movies. To me, they are a continuous stream of consciousness. A song is exactly like a movie script. There are about three acts in a song. You start in one place and you end up in another with information that you didn’t have in the first place. Film is the visual aspect of a song. When I’m watching a movie and I’m listening to the dialogue, I’m hearing the tune. When I look at the movement, I’m hearing the score.

JAY-Z Like, “OK, I reloaded.” [A line from Carlito’s Way that he used in “Brooklyn’s Finest” and “Hova Song — Intro.”] The reason I use it is because it has a tone to it. (He said it again, clapping his hands to the rhythm.) It has a beat. Great movies have great tunes and songs, you can close your eyes and watch them. That’s how they intertwine. When you tell a great story as a musician, someone can close their eyes and see exactly what you’re saying. When you tell a great story in a movie, people will say your lines in conversation. Like, “Don’t waste my time being a mom.” Al Pacino in Heat. It’s memorable because it’s melodious.

How do you feel when you’re competing for the Oscars? Jay, you’re likely going to go head-to-head with your wife in a stacked category. [Beyoncé’s “Be Alive” from King Richard was also shortlisted.]

JAY-Z It’s fun. It’s always fun. We are very lucky that people recognize the work. You try to soften your expectations with prizes because you never know how or why they go. You’re just trying to do something really great. And if those things happen, you just have to enjoy it. You have a good time, you take off your hat and get back to work. For us, we just appreciate the process of creating something great and doing something to be proud of – something we believe in. Everything else is icing on the cake.

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SAMUEL Well, everything after that is just like, “Good job done.” It’s great to be recognized for the work you put in. That’s not what motivates us. It’s about representation and making sure we’re seen in the right way, that when we’re shown in a thriller – not just about the West – we’re not the little people we’re called. is N-word.

JAY-Z “Nincompoop”?

SAMUEL (Laugh.) Exactly right. Nincompoop. We made the film to really create an entertaining piece of art that would last in the culture for decades to come. It was a trip to meet Jay, Kid Cudi, myself and The harder it is for them to fall get all this attention.

Have you thought about what’s next? Is it a sequel? Is it something else?

SAMUEL Surely there will be more in the universe The harder it is for them to fall. I want to do a sequel and a prequel. I always think The harder it is for them to fall three stories. Then we’ll have what’s coming next. I think we’ll take a quick detour outside of this genre. We love…let’s call it the “Black West”. We will always dance there. I think we’ll take the next detour and then come back to it.

The edited interview is long and clear.

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter, independently in January. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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