Jay-Z’s album "American Gangster," which hits stores today, was inspired by the Ridley Scott film. Way inspired, if Rob Sheffield at Rolling Stone is to be believed: "The concept is really just a spark to get Jay started. Forget Frank Lucas: The real black superhero here is Jay, and with American Gangster, Gray-Hova is back in black." Kelefa Sanneh at the New York Times addresses the ties between hip-hop and film:
Rappers have long loved (and stolen from) movies, but that doesnâ€™t
mean they esteem the people who make them. In a song on the new album,
Jay-Z belittles the competition, sneering, â€œTheyâ€™re all actors,â€ and
adding, â€œTheyâ€™re all weirdos â€” De Niros in practice.â€ In his rhymes, it
seems, â€œDe Niroâ€ can be both a compliment and an insult. But then,
rappers like Jay-Z often donâ€™t seem too enamored of their own
profession either. In one extraordinary, pretzel-logic stanza from the
song â€œNo Hook,â€ Jay-Z backpedals twice while trying to explain how he
fits into the tough-guy firmament:
Please donâ€™t compare me to other rappers,
compare me to trappers.
Iâ€™m more Frank Lucas than Ludacris â€”
and Ludaâ€™s my dude, I ainâ€™t tryna diss.
Like Frank Lucas is cool, but I ainâ€™t tryna snitch.
With all due respect to Mr. Carter, the dilemma Ryan Gilbey at the Guardian‘s Film Blog raises was closer to what came to our mind after we saw the film, namely "Who is the worse director out of the Scott brothers – Ridley or Tony?" Gilbey falls around where we do on this issue â€” fun, lively trashiness is always preferable to ponderous, unearned self-importance:
If you threatened to cut up my library card and forced me to choose between the two, I would – after acknowledging this as a textbook rock/hard place situation – plump for Tony. Although he makes trash, he mostly celebrates his own trashiness. In short, he makes it pleasurable, which means that films such as The Hunger or Top Gun have a faintly camp glee to them. And when he does deliver a film that rises above his usual fare, the shock is palpable: it seems amazing now that he directed Crimson Tide, a crackling suspense movie that tortures the audience with the threat, rather than the depiction, of war. But Ridley’s delusions about his own abilities usually paralyse his films – take another look at Hannibal, which proves conclusively that Ridley has contributed more to the promotion of ceiling fans, smoke and Venetian blinds than to cinema. Next to Jonathan Demme‘s The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal is needlessly jazzed up and dumbed down.