Jay-Z: Fade to Black

Movie review by
Elliot Panek, Common Sense Media
Jay-Z: Fade to Black Movie Poster Image
The making of a Jay-Z concert. Not for kids.
  • R
  • 2004
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Overvaluation of material possessions, objectification of women.


Lyrics include repeated threats of violence.


Oblique references to sex.


Plenty of swears, frequent use of the "n" word


Lots of brand-names everywhere, and commercialism is celebrated.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to drinking, marijuana.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysimply42amazing March 12, 2013

Not a Fan

He's holding up the Illuminati sign on the front cover. Do you really think it's gonna be good?
Parent of a 11-year-old Written byjsharpe October 24, 2009

no kids

again with the swears.um.um.um bad,bad,bad.
Teen, 13 years old Written bySanjay407 November 10, 2011


Rated R: Violence, Sex, Strong Language/Racist Remarks, and Drug Use

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Jay-Z's lyrics relate to his life. Is he playing a character when he performs, in the same way an actor plays a character? Are his lyrics autobiographical? To what degree is his life representative of the African-American experience?

Movie details

  • In theaters: November 5, 2004
  • On DVD or streaming: April 5, 2005
  • Cast: Jay-Z
  • Director: Patrick Paulson
  • Studio: Paramount Pictures
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Run time: 110 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: pervasive language including sexual lyrics
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love music

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