Fri. Dec 3rd, 2021

The Harder They Fall is now streaming on Netflix. Jeymes Samuel’s violent western features a star-studded cast that includes Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Regina King, and LaKeith Stanfield.

“When outlaw Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) discovers that his enemy Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) is being released from prison he rounds up his gang to track Rufus down and seek revenge,” says the official synopsis. “Those riding with him in this assured, righteously new school Western include his former love Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz), his right and left hand men — hot-tempered Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi) and fast drawing Jim Beckwourth (R.J. Cyler)—and a surprising adversary-turned-ally. Rufus Buck has his own fearsome crew, including “Treacherous” Trudy Smith (Regina King) and Cherokee Bill (LaKeith Stanfield), and they are not a group that knows how to lose.”

RELATED: Zazie Beetz on Portraying Stagecoach Mary in The Harder They Fall

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with The Harder They Fall director Jeymes Samuel about the soundtrack to his western, his working relationship with Jay-Z, and more.

Tyler Treese: Jeymes, such a pleasure to speak with you. Big fan of your work with Mr. Hudson and Jay Electronica, so this is a real treat.

Jeymes Samuel: My brother, you know your stuff.

I was so impressed by the editing and the use of music in this film. Obviously, you’re a musician yourself, so you’re used to incorporating music, but can you speak to that process and how you really added your own style into the film?

It was interesting. I’ve always categorized westerns over the years by their usage of music in it. From the old days of, “His name was Peter, riding up the hill,” and so on. When you hear that kind of music, the cinematic aesthetic was one way. As we went on to the more orchestral themes like The Searches and The Magnificent Seven, the original, that cinematic aesthetic was one way. Then Sergio Leone with the [hums theme], as the music changed so did the choreography of the camera and the story and the style of what we were being told.

So I really wanted to give The Harder They Fall its own style. I really wanted to give The Harder They Fall its own sense of time and place, but still obey him the western genre, where it fits. Sonics, that the music I choose, still had to fit with that visual landscape. I believe it, it does. It was almost like swimming where you become one with the water. The script becomes one with the music. The music becomes one with the script. Because I composed the score and wrote and produced the soundtrack and wrote the script, everything kind of was one cohesive whole.

RELATED: The Harder They Fall Interview: Jonathan Majors on Film’s Cyclical Trauma

This is kind of your second crack at a western. You had They Die By Dawn and you had some characters in this that were also in that. Stagecoach Mary, Nat Love, both appear in both features. What is it about these real life figures that you find so interesting and inspiring to create fiction with them?

I believe that we’ve just been starved of all of these characters in the old west. We’ve been given so many depictions of Frank James, Jesse James, Pat Garrett, Billy the Kid, all of these amazing characters, but we’ve never been given Bill Pickett. We’ve never been given Nat Love. We’ve never been given Bass Reeves, really. We’ve never been given Stagecoach Mary, she’s popped up in a couple of things, but not on a big level. I really thought it was important to bring these characters forth, so they can actually be a conversation piece about their existence. So no one could tell us that we were less than zero in a particular time and place. It was really important for me to bring them all to the sort of forefront in this story, a fictional story, but real characters.

You’ve had a long working relationship with Jay-Z. What did it mean for you to have him on this project and for him to contribute such a great song with Kid Cudi? Every time that would kick in, it was so exciting.

Oh man, that’s just the short version. My brother, wait till you hear it in its full entire swag soufflé. It was awesome. You know, me and Jay go back over 10 years and we close from the beginning and we always were talking about this film. So there was no version of events where I was going to do this film if Jay-Z wasn’t a producer on it.

Also I would always confer with him over storyline and music choices, even though I wrote all the songs myself, he was always my first point of call as to who should sing this particular song. We co-wrote the title track together, “The Harder They Fall.” Jay-Z is just an awesome guy. He’s extremely cinema literate. He really loves films and understands them, but also had the same kind of frustrations watching westerns. So it was awesome working with Jigga. It’s just awesome, like working with my brother. Just easy.

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