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Jay-Z: Fade to Black
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie contains some strong language. While there is no on-screen sex, drug use or violence, Jay-Z's lyrics are occasionally sexually explicit, and include references to drug use and violence. Generally, the profane remarks are part of stand-alone boasts, rather than a unified worldview. If the viewer is unfamiliar with hip-hop lingo, many references will go by too quickly to be understood.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Both a concert video and a behind-the-scenes "making of" documentary, JAY-Z: FADE TO BLACK depicts one of the famous rapper's final concerts as well as the creation of his final album. Much is made of Jay-Z's surprisingly early retirement, with many well-known hip-hop artists in attendance, as well as a slew of top producers helping out in the studio. In concert, Jay-Z and cohorts run through his hit-heavy catalog to the obvious delight of the sold-out Madison Square Garden crowd. Studio scenes alternate with concert footage, showing some inspirational moments that led to the completion of this final album, while also peeling back the pretension of Jay-Z's on-stage persona.
Is it any good?
As with many concert films, you would be better off listening to a live album. What is special about this concert presumably wasn't the visual spectacle, but the experience of being there. The studio scenes help to demystify the relationship between producer and rapper, but they don't last long enough to engage the audience.
Ultimately, the film fails to commit to either mode -- the studio scenes disrupt the flow of the concert, and the concert scenes have so little in the way of visual variety that they are sure to bore all but the most die heard Jay-Z fan. Kids will likely be drawn to this film due to the overwhelming popularity of Jay-Z. Parents should consider allowing only kids in their mid-teens and up to view this film due to its strong language.