After all the swirling rumours, Kendrick Lamar’s heavily anticipated ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack is already making an audacious imprint.
Penned in conjunction with the recently released ‘Black Panther’ Marvel superhero movie, a film that avoids sidestepping issues of racism and identity but rather confronts these issues head-on affecting modern day black life.
In short, the film follows the T’Challa (Boseman), protector of his homeland Wakanda (a fictional African nation) fighting to earn his recently inherited kingship.
Lamar’s soundtrack hopes to bring light into Wakanda, and features a whole tribe of A-List musical talent including the likes of SZA, Vince Staples, Swae Lee, Khalid, The Weeknd, Jorja Smith, James Blake, Anderson. Peak and Zacari, to name just a few.
Take a sneak peek at the trailer:
Fittingly, Lamar opens the soundtrack with ‘Black Panther’ which features a hauntingly, classic almost trippy piano as Lamar fearlessly raps, ” King of my city, king of my country, king of my homeland”,”What do you stand for?/Are you an activist? What are your city plans for?”
Seemly transitioning to one of the definite stand out’s of the album, ‘All The Stars’ featuring Sza. This song encompasses precisely black pride and excellence, particularly profound in the accompanying music video which showcases the mesmerising tapestry of African culture. Within the track itself, Sza’s magical voice ascends with the instrumental, transfixing her audience into a beautiful galaxy of sound. Meanwhile, Lamar interjects by rapping truth with pure conviction, “I hate people that feel entitled, Look at me crazy ’cause I ain’t invite you”.
‘The Ways’ featuring Khalid and Swae Lee has this almost tropical vibe, it’s chilled but has a meaningful, powerful resonance to it. Produced by BADBADNOTGOOD, Khalid and Swae connect to express their desires for a ‘power girl’, threading nicely into the film. For those who haven’t seen the film, the ‘power girl’ refers to the films love interest Nakia, played by Lupita Nyong’o. This is definitely a song you can vibe to all day long!
More up-tempo, ‘Opps’ features Vince Staples and Yugen Blakrok. Distinctive for its fast-paced, hype instrumental, which almost possesses a very familiar ‘Vince-like’ bouncy sound. Essentially, according to Genius the track refers to the cops or an opposite gang against whom the song is directed in the film.
Jorja Smith has definitely been making waves over the past year. Featuring on Drake’s ‘More Life’ and now making a memorable impression on Lamar’s ‘Black Panther’ with the thought-provoking track ‘I Am’. Embedded with a vivacious electric guitar, reminding you of Lamar’s previous album, particularly the track ‘LUST’. Additionally, Jorja’s familiar, distinctive vocals blend well with the guitar. Additionally, her lyrical maturity speaks volumes, “And I know we have asked for change, Don’t be scared to put the fears to shame.” In essence, this song reminds us to not be afraid and to be brave, a particularly appropriate message for today’s black youth.
‘Pray For Me’ featuring The Weeknd is another formidable collaboration. The Weeknd dominates the beginning with his vocals ascending nicely with the building instrumental (which surprisingly has a beat very similar to ‘Starboy’). Particularly noteworthy, is The Weeknd’s flourishing vocal trills in the chorus which highlights the African cultural masterpiece Lamar is emulating throughout the soundtrack. Then Lamar takes the reigns in the second verse, spitting some seriously deep and personal verses, “I fight the world, I fight you, I fight myself, I fight God”. Altogether, the track preaches loyalty, sacrifice and redemption, conveniently moulding with the similar themes explored in Lamar’s successfully acclaimed ‘DAMN’ album.
Buy the ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack here.