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Fade to Black

Screening the Nation MC366 - Dr. Tremonte Brad Shapiro

b shap

on 11 May 2010

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Transcript of Fade to Black

Works Cited
Brown, Ethan. "In Brief: Jay-Z." New York Magazine. November 24, 2003. http://nymag.com/nymetro/arts/music/pop/reviews/n_9511/

Carter, Shawn, perf. Fade To Black. Dir. Pat Paulson. 2003. DVD. Roc-A-Fella Records and Paramount Classics, 2004.

Decker, Jeffrey L. “The State of Rap: Time and Place in Hip Hop Nationalism.” Social Text, No. 34 (1993), pp. 53-84. Duke University Press.

Farley, John Christopher, Brice, Leslie, August, Melissa. "Music: Hip-Hop Nation." Time Magazine. February 8, 1999. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,990164-9,00.html

Gosa, Travis, and Hollie Young. “The Construction of Oppositional Culture in Hip-Hop Music: An In-depth Case Analysis of Kanye West and Tupac Shakur.” 25 March, 2006. The Johns Hopkins University.

Harrington, Richard. "Jay-Z's 'Fade' Gets an A." The Washington Post. November 5, 2004. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A25216-2004Nov4.html.

Higson, Andrew. “The Concept of National Cinema.” Film and Nationalism, edited by Alan Williams. New Brunswick, New Jersey, and London: Rutgers University Press, 2002. Pages 52 – 67.

Higson, Andrew. Chapter 4, “The Limiting Imagination of National Cinema,” in Cinema and Nation, edited by Mette Hjort and Scott Mackenzie. London & New York: Routledge, 2000. Pages 15 – 42.

Hughes-Warrington. History Goes to the Movies: Studying History on Film. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.

Jenkins, Keith. Re-thinking History. New York: Routledge, 1991. Print.

Jay-Z. Fade to Black. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0428518/

Jay-Z. Fade to Black. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1139156-fade_to_black/

Key, Low. “Jay-Z @ Madison Square Garden, NYC.” MVRemix Urban, November 25, 2003. http://www.mvremix.com/urban/reviews/shows/jaymsg.shtml.

Martinez, Theresa A. “Popular Culture as Oppositional Culture: Rap as Resistance.” Sociological Perspectives, Vol. 40, No. 2 (1997), pp. 265-286. University of California Press.

Spuhler, Robert. "Jay-Z - Fade to Black." April 5, 2005. http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/15052/jay-z-fade-to-black/

Skold, David. “Makin’ It, by Keeping it Real: Street Talk, Rap Music, and the Forgotten Entrepreneurship From “the ‘Hood.” Group & Organization Management, Vol. 32, No. 1 (February 2007), pp. 50-78. Sage Publications.

Toure. "Superstardom is Boring: Jay-Z Quits (Again)." New York Times. November 16, 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/arts/music-superstardom-is-boring-jay-z-quits-again.html?scp=3&sq=Jay-Z%20retire&st=nyt&&scp=65&sq=jay%20z&st=cse
Hip hop resurrects past heroes and myths surrounding black nationalism as well as the American dream, and updates them so they are made meaningful to a particular group at a particular time and place. Theoretical Connections Jenkins writes that “the past and history are not stitched into each other such that only one historical reading of the past is absolutely necessary” (7).

Jenkins and History Jenkins also discusses the power implications that history has. One of the main questions in his book is the idea of not “what is history” but “who is history for?” He says that different histories reflect different interests and serve different purposes for different people, and he says that “history is never for itself; it is always for someone” (21).
Genre is a boundary or classification that is culturally specific, and these classifications can be simplistic and limiting, can be fixed, as pure or dominant theme among other aspects, and flexible as there might be miltiple genres, or genre mixing. “A primary problem is the nebulous nature of the concept of genre itself…who is to judge whether a work belongs to a genre?” (37)

Jay-Z fits into a variety of "slots"

"Fade to Black" is categorized as a documentary, but it could also be considered a Western because of its rags to riches story, a black nationalist film, etc... Genre - Hughes-Warrington

"the parameters of a national cinema should be drawn at the site of consumption as much as the site of production of films…” (53).

National Cinema - Higson
“the role of the national optic in culturally transcribing, translating, and mediating this global text to national audiences, and in decoding it so as to ‘make sense’ of it within the interpretive palimpsest of specific national knowledges, cultural identities, and aesthetic and philosophical traditions” 281

“national audiences will apply the optic of their history, identity and values in the a process involving a decoding and reframing of the film’s content and message” 282 National Optic - Hedetoft Making-of footage serves to present a "real" version of the story Jay-Z narrates this story makes it seem more like a personal account As a documentary, "Fade to Black" uses several rhetorical strategies that present it as THE "one historical reading of the past" Jay-Z is in a position of power so that he can present himself and others in a certain way.
Jay-Z is superior to others
Hip-hop is superior to others
American Civil War 1990s 1876 --------------------------------------------1965 1940 1861-1865 1920 Emancipation Proclamation
outlawed slavery in the United States 1640-1860 2000s Flowering of African-American art and intellectual life:

Black intellectual and cultural circles were influenced by thinkers who celebrated blackness

The arts flourished and gained prominence 1960 The end of the Civil War accelerated the process of national African-American identity formation. 2008 Harlem Renaissance 1985 1863 1900 Gosa and Young 6 “nations are ‘imagined communities’ which foster feelings of deep solidarity between peoples who do not know each other and might never meet each other" An effort to mobilize large numbers of African-Americans
W.E.B. Du Bois
"Without an Anglicized culture, it was understood that Africans also lacked the means for racial uplift and were destined for extinction"

Assimilate or die Booker T. Washington (1903) Decker 56 "The Golden Age" Black Nationalism Civilizationists (1850) Garveyism advocated Western civilization The key was to imitate white institutions within the black community. “history is the necessary basis of the national narrative” (Higson, 2000, 62) Pan-Africanism protested assimiliation

embraced a more radical approach, calling for immediate equality in all areas of American life. Formed the National Assocation for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) (1909)
Promoted the "spirit of race pride" and sought to create a sense of worldwide unity among blacks. (1947) Jackie Robison breaks the color barrier in baseball race riots in LA (1992) Contemporary celebrates racial uniqueness and solidarity of the African diaspora Marcus Garvey

"A nation within a nation"

racial separatism

flourished among working class poor
only blacks can resolve the problems of blacks. Nation of Islam (NOI) The Black Panther Party violent revolution as the only means of achieving black liberation

called on African Americans to arm themselves for the liberation struggle Schlesinger Madison Square Garden Oppressed groups draw on their own cultures to resist oppression under dominant ideologies subcultures borrow from, adapt to, apply, and transform their ‘parent’ cultures Hip Hop From English Puritans whose Biblical vision inspired a struggle to construct what Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop called a "city upon a hill"... ...to contemporary citizens who yearn for an effortless existence. "[The idea of the American Dream] begins with people who denied their efforts could affect their fates, moves through successors who later declared independence to get that chance, to heirs who elaborated a gospel of self-help promising they could shape their fates with effort, and ends with people who long to achieve dreams without having to make any effort at all." Jim Cullen, Author of The American Dream: a Short History of an Idea That Shaped a Nation As with any discussion of historical ideas, practices, events, etc., there are overlapping views of the American Dream. American Nationalism Fade to Black uncovers and updates a history of the the for
today's black youth. today's youth.
American Dream Fade to Black participates in the construction of Black nationalism Fade to Black participates in the construction of hip hop nationalism American Nationalism Fade to Black participates in the construction of Black Nationalism Hip Hop & Fade to Black uncovers and updates a history of for
racial struggle 1640-1860 The oppression of blacks in America dates back to the beginning of slavery. This long-standing structure of white-on-black oppression is an institutionalized and rationalized discrimination and oppression that has lasted for nearly 400 years. The American Dream Jim Crow laws Discrimination has been built into the existing structure of institutions such as schools, churches, banks, and hospitals both explicitly and implicitly. Ku Klux Klan (1867) "separate but equal" status for African-Americans.
led to institutionalized racism by systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages. Roc-A-Fella Founded by Shawn Carter (aka Jay-z) and Damon Dash (1990) Reasonable Doubt (1996)
Vol. 1...In My Lifetime (1997)
Streets is Watching (1997)
Vol. 2...Hard Knock Life (1998)
Vol. 3...Life and Times of Shawn Carter (1999)
The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (2000)
The Blueprint (2001)
Jay-Z: Unplugged (2001)
The Best of Both Worlds (2001)
The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse (2002)
The Blueprint 2.1 (2002)

The Black Album (2003) Record Company DJ Clue - The Professional (1998)
Memphis Bleek - Coming of Age (1998)
Beanie Sigel - The Truth (1999)
Amil - All Money is Legal (1999)
Memphis Bleek - The Understanding (2000)
Beanie Sigel - The Reason (2000)
Cam'ron - Come Home with Me (2002)
Various Artists - Paid in Full Soundtrack (2002)
Freeway - Phliadelphia Freeway (2002)
Juelz Santana - From Me to U (2003)
Memphis Bleek - Made (2003)
Kanye West - The College Dropout (2003)
Young Gunz - Tough Luv (2003)

Streets is Watching (1998)

Backstage (2000)

Paid in Full (2002)

Paper Soldiers (2003)

State Property (2002)

Death of a Dynasty (2003)

Jay-Z Various Artists The nation is first forged and then maintained as a bounded public sphere

public debate gives the nation meaning

media systems with a particular geographical reach give it shape

First Wave:
Blaxploitation Films Hip Hop Cinema Hip-hop films are the of the expression of aesthetics and ideals in cinema related specifically to African-Americans and African-American culture. low-budget crime films with excessive violence and sexual imagery featuring African-American characters in urban settings, usually with a soul music score. 1970s Hip-hop films primarily feature the aesthetics and culture of hip-hop, while also featuring hip-hop music as a score. Hip-hop artists appear in these films as lead actors

Generally feature stories about and related to African-American youth of the post-Blaxploitation/post-civil rights era: the hip-hop generation. Hip Hop Cinema is transgeneric:

Hip-hop films have been made as documentaries, musicals, biopics, comedies, dramas, thrillers, gangster films, and more.
Hip-hop films often combine these genres The ideals that Jay-Z pushes through his lyrics, clothing, and brand markers – gutsy entrepreneurship, extravagant living, protecting one’s interests, and learning to live with remorse – are steeped in the American dream. Jay-Z 1980s "hip hop originated during the mid-1970s as an integrated series of live community-based practices. It remained a function of live practice and congregation for a number of years, exclusive to those who gathered together along NYC blocks, in parks, and in select clubs." Early rappers, DJs, graffiti artists, and breakdancers forged a "nation" entirely dependent upon face-to-face social contact and interaction. Dimitriadis 179 Hip hop's vocal discourse (rap) has been separated from its early context of communal production.

This has brought about a trend in hip hop of choosing closed narrative forms over flexible word-play and promoting individualized listening over community dance.
(left) Producer, Kanye West, explains an idea to rapper, Jay-Z about making an album with the idea that it was "a piece of a movie."

(click small play button in bottom left corner. First 30s are most applicable) Scene from "Fade to Black" The decentralized face-to-face social dynamic has given way to a different dynamic, one "mediated by way of commodity forms such as vinyl, video, and CD," says hip hop scholar, Greg Dimitradis (Dimitrdais 179). Today's hip-hop community, black community, American community, and more, are constituted vicariously, linked together by an available number of cultural texts (i.e., recordings, moving images) second wave 1990s 2000s Following Jay-Z's 1999 'Hard Knock Life' tour, which was the highest-grossing hip-hop tour to date at that time. The movie includes plenty of live footage of performances by Jay-Z, DMX, Method Man, and Redman, as well as other rappers on Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella music label, along wtih a behind-the-scenes look at what went into organizing the tour. Roc-A-Fella Productions In the wake of his 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z's albums sold millions upon millions with each release, and his endless parade of hits made him omnipresent on urban radio and video television. (All Music) Film Production Company Clothing Line Fade to Black (2003) Hip hop is no longer a genre of spontaneous performance. Rather, it has become a nation constructed mainly by mediated and recorded performances.

Fade to Black is a seemingly unmediated representation of the mediated production of hip hop. Although Fade to Black is only one account of past events, it constructs itself as a monumental text within the boundaries of the imagined hip-hop nation.

Fade to Black warrants scholarly analysis precicesly because it is constructed as representing a "true" account. In other words, even though it may not present an accurate account of the past, it becomes widely recognized as accurate because of the way it is presented.
"Hip-hop has emerged as a major site of cultural production and agency for today’s generation. For many, hip-hop has “transcended the realm of entertainment to become an integral aspect of identity and a lens through which [they] understand the world"

(Ferguson 372).
Album Covers The Diegetic World of Jay-Z Jay-Z’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt (1996), depicts him draped in a fedora as the classic sophisticated kingpin complete with a Cuban cigar. The grayscale of the image gives it an air of mystery and power, two themes prevalent within music and lyrics on the album. Simple and sleek, yet capitalized text pushes the power theme further, and a tilted brim on Jay’s hat, covering his eyes, adds to the mysticism of the “all-powerful” rapper. Already, on his debut album, the seed had been planted, distinguishing Jay-Z as a wealthy gangster instead of just a rapper. The next four album covers stick with the identity created by Jay-Z through the first album cover. Each one depicts Jay-Z as something more than a rapper – a powerful, wealthy figure. Jay-z's fifth studio album, The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (2000), was a compilation album, which sought to introduce new artists that had signed to the Roc-A-Fella record label. In hopes that it would sell more copies, Jay-Z put his name and picture on the album. However, unlike his previous albums, Jay-Z was depicted as a modern day “gangsta” instead of the classic, wise gangster that he is depicted as in previous brand identity markers. This strategy worked to an extent, but the album became the subject of much criticism, condemnation, and discussion because Jay-Z had offered consumers something unfamiliar. It was as if Jay-Z broke character in the middle of a scene. Consumers questioned the “realness” of Jay-Z and criticized him for playing a different role than the one he had previously put forth. Music Videos Before he had even released a full album, Jay-Z filmed a music video for his first single, “In My Lifetime” (1995). Within the first 45 seconds of one of his first brand markers, Jay-Z is depicted as the same character he is known as today. The first image in the video is of Jay-Z touching a poster of a beautiful sunset on the ocean as if he is longing to be there. This is to suggest that Jay-Z started with a dream, but wasn’t within reach at first. The second image is of a stack of $20 bills. This shows us that, somehow, Jay-Z got money. The third image shows Jay-Z standing on top of a ledge with two half-naked women at a spot very similar to the one depicted in the poster. We now see that, with money, Jay-Z has reached his dream. The video then takes full form as Jay-Z starts rapping in street clothes in front of the Brooklyn Bridge, a symbol that represents Jay-Z’s roots. 45 seconds into the video, the music stops as Jay-Z stands in a nice suit with a bottle of champagne and delivers a toast to a table full of fancy looking guests. We see now that Jay-Z is a high-powered boss figure. "From the bottom, the bottom, to the top of the pots" - Jay-Z
"Dirt Off Your Shoulder (Black Album, 2003) Jay-Z is African-American and from the disenfranchised area of Brooklyn, New York – more specifically, the Marcy Projects. Growing up, he made a name for himself by dealing drugs but his notoriety soon shifted to his talents as a rapper. After seeing many of his young rapper companions have the fruits of their hard work be taken by the record companies, Jay-Z formed his own company – Roc-A-Fella Records. In 1996, Jay-Z came out with his first album, “Reasonable Doubt.” It was critically acclaimed and ignited the making of a legend. By 2003, Jay-Z had produced 7 full albums. It was his eighth that would become the most famous of his career: “The Black Album.” Lyrics Jay-Z’s lyrics often refer to his childhood and struggles as a rapper. He makes it widely known that he grew up in an area of urban decay, in which he felt ignored and oppressed by the dominant culture. In “Hard Knock Life,” Jay-Z samples the tune from the Broadway show, “Annie”: “It’s a hard knock life, for us / it’s a hard knock life, for us / ‘stead of treated, we get tricked / ‘stead of kisses, we get kicked / it’s a hard knock life.” In his version of the song, Jay-Z draws a comparison between himself and the orphan girls – both were neglected and oppressed by some dominant figure or group.

Part of the reason for his wide appeal to all races and ages is that Jay-Z remains open to criticizing all types of oppressors. In “Is That yo Chick,” Jay-Z refers to an anonymous man as an agent of oppression because he stands in the way of Jay-Z having a relationship with his “chick.” In other instances, Jay-Z discusses agents of the state as agents of oppression. In “Where I’m From,” Jay-Z raps, “I’m from…where the blue vans would come, we throw the work in the can and run / where the hammer’s rung, news cameras never come.”

Overall, Jay-Z explicitly challenges the consensus logic of dominant culture in America. Though, by doing it through a variety of genres, he appeals to a wide range of people.
Wild Style (1983) Streets is Watching (1998)

Martinez, 269 Gives added importance to the analysis and deconstruction of these texts. Hip Hop offers a view of the American Dream from a hip-hop perspective, or from the perspective of black nationalism. "Fade to Black is mostly a concert film, chronicling Jay-Z's 'retirement show' at Madison Square Garden. But spliced into the proceedings are clips of Jay-Z meeting with different producers to record "The Black Album," his final release, along with backstage testimonials from invited guests." Robert Spuhler - DVDTalk Nov. 14, 2003 promoted as Jay-Z's final studio album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 463,000 copies in its first week.

Produced three singles that attained Billboard chart success

Upon its release, The Black Album received general acclaim from most music critics. Jay-Z on Fade to Black “...it started as a concert film, and then it turned into this journey, like a young kid from Brooklyn, you know, who gets to play the biggest stage in the world, Madison Square Garden…we knew something special was going to happen." The Concert Advertised as a "retirement party"
All proceeds went to charity

Tickets were sold out in one day (Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund and the non-profit Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.) "from Marcy to Madison Square...we made it!" Fade to Black begins with long, overhead shots of New York City, which symbolizes a kingdom for Jay-Z and his fans. By zooming around with the sound of a helicopter and Jay-Z's voice, the audience feels as if they are hovering above the kingdom with Jay-Z. In other words, together, the audience and Jay-Z have "made it." The theme of having "made it" is apparent throughout the film. From the to the bottom top The concert begins with Michael Buffer (a professional ring announcer for boxing and wrestling matches) on stage. In his classic and well-recognized voice, Buffer said, “llaaaaaadeeeeeees and gen tell men! Tonight, we come to Madison Square Garden, New York City to see and hear a legendary super star…” By having this well-known boxing announcer introduce him, Jay-Z characterizes himself as a fighter from the very beginning of the show. For Jay-Z, it was a fight between him and agents of oppression. Star Power "Gangsta Rappers" Fade to Black features several hip-hop stars, which serve to enhance the myth of Jay-Z having "made it" because he is surrounded by others who have apparently done the same through the same channel - hip hop. Hip-Hop stars update Black nationalism violent revolution as the only means of achieving black liberation

called on African Americans to arm themselves for the liberation struggle Wealthy, Sexy, and "Conscious" Rappers "Without an Anglicized culture, it was understood that Africans also lacked the means for racial uplift and were destined for extinction"

Assimilate or die The key was to imitate white institutions within the black community. Decker 56 The of the concert portion of the movie acknowledge certain pasts and futures backgrounds fashion The of the concert portion of the movie acknowledge certain pasts and futures camera angles are from the point of view of the audience diversity is shown throughout the film. Cementing a version of history
Transitions from concert to behind-the-scenes of production pan over crowd. This serves to heighten the awareness of the audience, as if Jay-Z was calling out to them, "time to listen.." Hip-hop unveiled Jay-Z unveiled eye contact jay-z's mother Hip-hop veil, unveiled from the bottom to the top Importance of Fade to Black Jay-Z Benedict Anderson Under the umbrella of the American Dream, Fade to Black acknowledges black nationalism to construct a nation that includes black people Sound plays an important role in African culture as well as the cultures of oppressed groups in society. A majestic theme serves to separate Jay-Z from reality. In other words, he is part of something different than normal. An American flag background grounds Jay-Z at a particular time and place, which works in the exact opposite way of the majestic theme, but toward the same end of creating a space within an already constructed nation to construct a new nation. The nation that Fade to Black constructs is global. A jazz theme acknowledges not only a musical past, but an African-American musical past. It serves to locate Jay-Z in a spectrum of African-American music. Jay-Z wears a suit, which is part of European culture. However, by affixing patches to the suit, Jay-Z is constructing something new and unique. Jay-Z acknowledge Notorious B.I.G., a legendary rap artist from Brooklyn, New York. Jay-Z dresses like an "American Gangster," a character who is very much American, but also very much a marginalized and shunned member of society. In contrast, this outfit resembles typical street fashion, which serves to connect Jay-Z to local inner city cultures. This outfit is a combination of the American Gangster and the Street character. For Jay-Z, New York represents the best of both worlds. The die-hard Jay-Z fan knows that he is a partial owner of the New Jersey Nets. This outfit not only positions Jay-Z as a fan of the game of basketball, which is largely African-American, but also positions him as a businessman. Finally, the last outfit Jay-Z dawns is blantatly open to interpretation. It leaves the audience to fill in the blanks. Hip-Hop stars update the myth of the American Dream & Powerful, Sexy, and Fierce Women Who does this film appeal to, and how? “emotions have objects” (91). "...[emotions] may guide our reasoning and our identification of courses of action” (91). The role of affect... Hughes-Warrington The crowd is an object of emotion. Race is an object of emotion. Takeaway Ideas
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