Photo: Getty Images
  /  08.09.2022

While visiting “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” last night (Aug. 8), Idris Elba revealed the unconventional way he was able to appear on one of JAY-Z’s albums. As the show’s host asked the English actor how he managed to land on projects for both JAY and Paul McCartney, Elba gave a bit of insight.

“You wrote and produced the intro track,” Fallon began while referencing JAY’s 2007 album American Gangster. Next, the host asked, “How do you get in these situations?” while holding an album by McCartney. “Both [of] these albums I’m on and both [of] those artists don’t know I’m on the album. You know what I’m saying? I literally hustled my way onto both of those albums,” he said. Fallon is impressed with the Beast actor’s story and asks him to elaborate.

“I was in American Gangster and at the time, I heard JAY was about to do an album associated with the film and I was like, ‘I need to get on that.’ As you do. You’re like, ‘I’m Idris, I need to be on that JAY-Z album!’ I had no idea why JAY would be like, ‘Yeah, sure, do it.’ So Lenny S., who works with JAY, was a good friend of Oronde and Oronde’s my guy, and I said, ‘Yo, I’m gonna write this thing.’ And I wrote this long poem,” Elba explained. He continued to discuss the process: “We put it to a beat. Actually, it was a rap, but it didn’t sound good as a rap. … I said, ‘Maybe I should speak this,’ because JAY might be a little more accommodating to my speaking voice. And I sent it to him and we got this text back from JAY saying, ‘I don’t love this … I f**king love it.”

In addition to collaborating on American Gangster, Elba stars as Rufus Buck in the 2021 JAY-Z-produced film, The Harder They Fall. The movie, which was released on Netflix, also stars Zazie Beetz (“Atlanta”), Jonathan Majors (“Lovecraft Country”), LaKeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah) and Regina King (“Watchmen”). Check out Elba’s full interview with Fallon below.


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