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Leonardo DiCaprio and Baz Luhrmann were in Jay-Z’s “No Church in the Wild” studio session

While in the pre-production phase of The Great Gatsby, Leonardo DiCaprio and writer/producer/director Baz Luhrmann were present during a studio session with Jay-Z and Kanye West for their Grammy award-winning song “No Church In the Wild” featuring Frank Ocean and The-Dream.  

Jay-Z executively produced and contributed music to The Great Gatsby Soundtrack which was released through Interscope. Baz Luhrmann and Jay-Z were introduced by Leonardo DiCaprio, and this led to a two-year collaborative effort.

“Leonardo [DiCaprio] and I were lucky enough to be present in a recording session over two years ago as Jay-Z was recording ‘No Church in the Wild,’ and the collaboration grew from there.” – Baz Luhrmann explained in a press statement

Jay Z, Leonardo Dicaprio & Baz Luhrmann
Via Getty Images

“As soon as I spoke with Baz and Leonardo, I knew this was the right project. The Great Gatsby is that classic American story of one’s introduction to extravagance, decadence and illusion.  It’s ripe for experimentation and ready to be interpreted with a modern twist.  The imagination Baz brought to ‘Moulin Rouge’ made it a masterpiece, and ‘Romeo + Juliet’s’ score wasn’t just in the background; the music became a character.  This film’s vision and direction has all the makings of an epic experience.” – Jay Z said

Composer Craig Armstrong who worked alongside Jay-Z on the film, revealed interesting details about Jay-Z’s role as executive producer on The Great Gatsby Soundtrack, stating: 

“Luhrmann and Jay-Z were introduced by Leonardo DiCaprio (Jay Gatsby), and this led to a two-year collaborative effort.

“During this time, Jay-Z worked with Luhrmann and his team to capture, translate and contrast the feelings of Fitzgerald’s decadent era with that of our own, using hip-hop and jazz, music contemporary and period, to bring two distinct American moments to simultaneous life.”

The soundtrack included music from Jay Z, Beyonce, Lana Del Rey and Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine. This wasn’t the first time Jay-Z executively produced, The Brooklyn rapper executive produced the soundtrack of the video game NBA 2k13. 

The Dream who was also featured on “No Church In the Wild” annotated the song on genius and said this

“I get to New York, and we’re at the Mercer Hotel, working. We had the whole floor. I get in, Frank Ocean’s sitting there, and they’re just starting on “No Church In The Wild.” So “Holy Grail” itself inspired them to change Watch the Throne. Because of that record, six other records got made at that point, including “Otis.” I go in the next room with my engineer, and just sing eight or twelve bars for “No Church.” Right after Ye’s verse, I sing that whole part. I got a Grammy for that.”

“I end up doing the same kind of thing with “Umbrella” where I’m singing this part, and I think it’s awesome, to myself. I didn’t know what they were trying to do. Like, can I go back to my habitat on the golf course? Me and Jay went out, we went to eat, hung out with Leonardo Dicaprio that night—that’s what I remember. And the next day we worked more on a couple other things, I don’t remember. Later my friend called and said “Yeah, so there’s an album getting ready to drop and you’re on it, but you don’t know you’re on it, but I just wanted to let you know.” I didn’t even remember what I had written. I just recorded it and left it alone. So that’s what “Holy Grail” was, that little nudge. Jay finally admitted what went on around the record in an interview. He talked about playing the record and how there was a little fight about “Holy Grail.” Of course that’s flattering. Kanye is so great, he’s only most of the time just being challenged by himself. It’s a blessing when it happens to any of us, for a record to come out of left field and push you to a thing.”

The Great Gatsby theatrical trailer featured “No Church In The Wild,”

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