Idris Elba explained how he got on Jay-Z’s “American Gangster” album in 2007, which functioned as the record’s companion piece to the Ridley Scott movie in which Elba starred.
“At the time I hear Jay was about to do an album associated with the film,” Elba revealed to Jimmy Fallon during an appearance to promote his upcoming movie “Beast” on The Tonight Show. “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.’”
Elba made an exceptional effort to bring that desire to life and, after getting in touch with one of Jay-Z’s friends, sent the rapper a “long poem.”
“Actually it was a rap, but it didn’t sound good as a rap,” Elba disclosed to Fallon. “So 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, ‘Um, I don’t love this — I fucking love it.’”
In the spoken poem, Idris Elba took on the role of heroin dealer Angel Wood, who in the movie badly underestimates Denzel Washington’s Frank Lucas character, and discussed the components of “gangsterment.” The reading obviously captured Jay-Z’s attention, as it was sampled for his album’s “Intro” track.