When he's not dropping albums, fathering babies with reality-show celebrities or feeling uneasy about answering questions, Kanye West has another pursuit: supplying songs to popular movies.
He's long been a favorite of music supervisors: "Miami Vice," "Jarhead" and "Coach Carter" all feature Kanye tracks. So do "Mission Impossible: 3" and, across the Hollywood spectrum, the emo coming-of-age tale "It's Kind of a Funny Story."
But if you've had the sense that Kanye has become especially prevalent in films lately, you wouldn't be wrong. The Chicago rapper has tracks in no fewer than three movies currently in theaters: "The Hangover Part III," "The Great Gatsby" and "The Bling Ring."
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The piano-driven "Dark Fantasy" makes an appearance in "Hangover," continuing the musician's pattern of providing a backing track to the Todd Phillips franchise. The religion-skeptical "No Church in the Wild," with Jay-Z, helps bolster "Gatsby's" over-the-top, nothing-but-the-cult-of-money vibe.
And in "Bling Ring," the King Crimson-sampled "Power" and ode-to-the-good-things "All the Lights" (chorus lyric: "Fast life, drug life, thug life, rock life, every night, all of the lights") provide an added gloss to the indulgent lifestyle of Sofia Coppola's protagonists (not that they needed it).
On Monday, Kanye popped up yet again with the release of "The Wolf of Wall Street" trailer. The spot features "Black Skinhead," off his much-hyped new album "Yeezus." The inclusion of the song (which itself references movies such as "300" and "Inglourious Basterds") proves once again that if it's a movie about Leonardo DiCaprio and greed, a Kanye track is what's called for. (Expect more "Yeezus" cuts in movies in the seasons ahead.)
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Kanye beats lend a film -- to directors and marketers, at least -- a sense of being young and edgy, even if they also create a certain across-the-board sameness. What's truly odd, though, is that Kanye's presence in all these Hollywood films is coming at a time when the musician appears to be eschewing, both sonically and spiritually, much of the mainstream. His new album is filled with wild musical arrangements and even wilder lyrics, many of which appropriate civil rights memes in the service of the party life. As my colleague Randall Roberts suggests, "Yeezus" itself could well be "an attempt at alienating the marketplace so he can live as an artist rather than a paparazzi target."
Kanye has a new baby with girlfriend Kim Kardashian. Fatherhood has changed the approach of many a hard-edged artist. But we wouldn't expect his music in a whole bunch of new Pixar titles.
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