Jay Z

Fade To Black

BY Del F. CowiePublished May 1, 2005

It's hard to view Fade To Black without cracking a wry smile. After all, ever since the farewell concert that comprises most of this film, Jay-Z has been in the public eye more than ever. Suspending cynicism, for pure entertainment this film is hard to beat. The November, 2003 Madison Square Garden show was a star-studded an expertly paced affair. While never boasting overwhelmingly magnetic stage presence, Jay-Z knows when and how to deploy his cavalcade of guests, whether it's ?uestlove, Beyonce, or Ghostface. However, as the crowd whom mouth along to his every word would attest, with Jay-Z, it's all about the lyrics. Cutting between the concert and comparatively modestly shot in-studio footage of sessions for The Black Album, a real insight and appreciation for Jay-Z's oral agility can be garnered through witnessing his ability to conceive and memorise entire songs on the spot. The bison in Rick Rubin's studio and Timbaland's contagious energy don't hurt either. However, we rarely get to see outside his public image of detached cool, a gap an audio commentary might have bridged. But when you see him spit the introspective and autobiographical lyrics with precise clarity of show closer "December 4th," it's hard not to smile again when it's the songs that provide that kind of insight. Plus: "making of," trailer, more. (Paramount)

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