Fade to Black (2004)

R  |   |  Documentary  |  5 November 2004 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.9/10 from 851 users   Metascore: 59/100
Reviews: 7 user | 26 critic | 20 from Metacritic.com

Filmed during his "Black Album" era, Jay-Z looks back on his career as one of rap music's most successful emcees and entrepreneurs.

Watch Trailer
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

1 nomination. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Fade to Black (2006)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

Attempting to recover from his failed marriage to Rita Hayworth and restart his career, Orson Welles travels to Italy only to be drawn into a dangerous web of intrigue, murder and politics when an actor is murdered on his set.

Director: Oliver Parker
Stars: Danny Huston, Diego Luna, Paz Vega
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A documentary on rap music and its rise to global prominence.

Directors: Ice-T, Andy Baybutt
Stars: Ice-T, Dr. Dre, Chuck D.
Streets Is Watching (Video 1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  
Director: Abdul Malik Abbott
Stars: Jay Z, Damon Dash, Pain in da Ass
Block Party (2005)
Documentary | Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A mix of Dave Chappelle's sketch comedy and musical interludes, inspired in part by the 1973 documentary Wattstax.

Director: Michel Gondry
Stars: Dave Chappelle, Yasiin Bey, Lauryn Hill
Wild Style (1983)
Documentary | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Legendary New York graffiti artist Lee Quinones plays the part of Zoro, the city's hottest and most elusive graffiti writer. The actual story of the movie concerns the tension between ... See full summary »

Director: Charlie Ahearn
Stars: 'Lee' George Quinones, Lady Pink, Fab 5 Freddy
The Up in Smoke Tour (Video 2000)
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

This is it! Your front row seat to the greatest hip hop experience ever captured on film. This is the ultimate back stage pass for your total pleasure. "Up In Smoke" is it and now you've got it all. Fire it up.

Director: Philip G. Atwell
Stars: Ice Cube, Eminem, Dr. Dre
Fade to Black (1980)
Comedy | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A shy, lonely, film geek goes on a killing spree against those who bully and browbeat him, while at the same time, he stalks his idol; a Marilyn Monroe look-alike.

Director: Vernon Zimmerman
Stars: Dennis Christopher, Tim Thomerson, Gwynne Gilford
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Time Is Illmatic is a feature length documentary film that delves deep into the making of Nas' 1994 debut album, Illmatic, and the social conditions that influenced its creation. Twenty ... See full summary »

Director: One9
Stars: Nas, Mrs. Braconi, Fab 5 Freddy
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Home movies, photographs, and recited poetry illustrate the life of Tupac Shakur, one of the most beloved, revolutionary, and volatile hip-hop M.Cs. of all time.

Director: Lauren Lazin
Stars: Tupac Shakur, Rappin' 4-Tay, Conrad Bain
Juice (1992)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

"Juice" is about 4 inner-city teens who get caught up in the pursuit of power and happiness, which they refer to as 'the juice'.

Director: Ernest R. Dickerson
Stars: Omar Epps, Tupac Shakur, Jermaine 'Huggy' Hopkins

Chronicles the unlikely rise to prominence of the Australia-based Christian band, Hillsong United. The music of Hillsong is so popular it is estimated that on any given Sunday, more than 50... See full summary »

Director: Michael John Warren
Above the Rim (1994)
Crime | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Story of a promising high school basketball star and his relationships with two brothers, one a drug dealer and the other a former basketball star fallen on hard times and now employed as a security guard.

Director: Jeff Pollack
Stars: Duane Martin, Tupac Shakur, Leon


Credited cast:
Himself (as Jay-Z)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Himself (as Farnsworth Bentley)
Himself (as Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs)
Freeway ...


An intimate look at hip-hop artist Shawn Carter, Jay-Z, revealing the multiple Grammy Award winning artist as never before, from his background and rise to fame to the recording of his last album. The film chronicles the legendary concert of Jay-Z's performance at Madison Square Garden in November 2003. In an unprecedented event, a hip-hop artist sold out an arena in only two hours. Nearly one year later, fans and artists alike still reflect on this monumental musical night. The event was a spectacular culmination of Jay-Z's recording career prior to his self-proclaimed retirement from solo performing. Yet this one night also defined a musical generation, showcasing the evolution and reach of the world's most popular music genre. Guest performers included Jay-Z's closest friends and music industry colleagues: Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, R. Kelly, Foxy Brown, Pharrell, and Questlove and The Illadelphonics along with appearances by hip hop icons Damon Dash, Rick Rubin, Slick ... Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

color in title | See All (1) »


The ultimate concert. Now the ultimate movie.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive language including sexual lyrics | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

5 November 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jay Z: Fade to Black  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$449,331 (USA) (5 November 2004)


$728,243 (USA) (17 December 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Referenced in Beef 4 (2007) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

As good a billboard for his platinum-selling "Black Album" as he could get.
29 November 2004 | by (Columbus, Ohio) – See all my reviews

Here are my credentials for reviewing the documentary about Jay-Z's 'farewell' performance in Madison Square Garden. Talk about 'square': I am a student of language and literature (Ph.D. in English) and trained in rapid talking (licensed auctioneer), but I cannot repeat to you more than a half dozen words from this energetic and positive look at one of rap's icons. His glossing of 'idiosyncrasy' for the audience was both a kindness and a put down but at least understandable.

Although I saw Eminem's early Detroit life in '8 Mile' and connected with Metallica's challenges in 'Metallica: Some Kind of Monster,' because of my inexperience with Jay-Z's music, I could not get past my ear's inability to hear the lyrics or even the dressing room and studio talk, a slight testimony to Bill Cosby's warnings about language. Yet, virtually everyone at that November 2003 concert knew every word of his songs. I am in the minority on this one.

Anyway, about a well-structured film I already have some idea. 'Fade to Black' is a faithful rendering of the excitement and beat of the Garden show. With the likes of girl friend Beyonce (whose scantily-clad, lip-syncing performance of 'Crazy in Love' is worth the admission price), Mary J. Blige, and R. Kelly (before the rift) joining Jay-Z, the film relays the energy and synergy of performers who speak to countless hip-hop fans. It is also as good a billboard for his platinum-selling "Black Album" as he could get.

Therefore, because so much of the documentary is dedicated to the performance, little is allowed for getting to know the rapper and how he creates. That he does not write down his machine-gun lyrics is a rare insight (In '8 Mile' I loved the exhilaration of seeing and hearing young people fight with 'vocabulary' rather than guns); that he cares about how his words effect his fans is sweet; what he does to shape the 'tracks' into pop gold as he listens to them in the studio is never satisfactorily explained (and surely the most boring part of the film). 'Metallica,' for instance, has an accurate rendering of the rock group's long struggle to create its latest album. Perhaps an exploration of Jay-Z's 'Hard Knock Life' would have better taught us about this post-gangsta powerhouse. A documentary should teach; 'Fade' mostly shows. Or maybe that's all there is.

As even I know, he reneged on the 'farewell,' remarkable because his other businesses such as his 'Roc-a-fella' recording label and clothing line could have kept him busy for a lifetime. I suspect music is much better for his forsaking retirement.

Like the opening and closing aerial shots of New York at night, we are too far away to get close to understanding the performer. Like the city, he dazzles and eludes.

8 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Awful... spoynton-1
Kanye West Studio Scene Beat IndianaSmith
'I'm not a Writer I'm a biter...'? YoungGarvey
You have really gotta be a fan to see this Royaltrecords
Kanye Beat onecooldude89
question about timbaland studio scene Mwolverines7
Discuss Fade to Black (2004) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page