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Jay-Z Returns to His Roots For "American Gangster"-Inspired New Album

September 20, 2007 10:09 AM ET

On November 6th, Jay-Z will release a new album inspired by the forthcoming Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe movie American Gangster, meaning he has now un-retired twice. The MC/label head, who declared he was quitting the game after releasing 2003's The Black Album, says he found inspiration to pen tracks after watching the film, which tells the story of Seventies Harlem heroin dealer Frank Lucas. "It was like I was watching the film, and putting it on pause, and giving a back story to the story," Jay told the New York Times.

American Gangster, which is directed by Ridley Scott and features T.I., Common and RZA in supporting roles, tells a bad-boy rags-to-riches story in which the hero (Washington) is a criminal audiences can root for. "It immediately clicked with me," said Jay-Z, who has long rapped about his early days as a drug dealer. "Like Scarface, or any one of those films, you take the good out of it, and you can see it as an inspiring film." The American Gangster soundtrack is being released by Def Jam and features songs by Bobby Womack, the Staple Singers and Sam & Dave, but Jay-Z's album, which will be called American Gangster, is so far not officially connected to the film that inspired it.

Jay told the Times he's finished nine tracks so far, including "No Hook," a song that enforces the "stop snitchin'" ideology and "takes you through this journey -- his journey, my journey, so many people's journey that come from the areas that we come from." Calling last year's Kingdom Come too "sophisticated" for some of his fans, Jay-Z said he sees American Gangster as a return to his street roots. "Watching that film, it brought back all these memories," he said. "It took me back to those emotions."

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