Feb. 9 marked the release date of the highly anticipated “Black Panther” soundtrack, the creative and unique project masterminded by Kendrick Lamar. While Lamar features on almost all of the album’s songs, the soundtrack also spotlights a plethora of other incredible artists, such as SZA, Khalid, Travis Scott, Future, The Weekend and so many more.
The album starts off with the song “Black Panther,” performed by Lamar. This track represents the greater themes of both the album and film itself, which can be shown from the opening lyrics: “King of my city, king of my country, king of my homeland/ King of the filthy, king of the fallen, we living again.” The track is a powerful opener, utilizing intricately meaningful lyrics and interesting beat and tempo changes.
The album then segues into “All the Stars (with SZA).” This song has already gained widespread popularity and for good reason. SZA and Lamar’s verses flow together with ease and beauty. The catchy beat and powerhouse vocals make the track a bonafide hit.
Another notable favorite from the album is “King’s Dead (with Kendrick Lamar, Future & James Blake) by Jay Rock.” The second half of the song was performed by Lamar during the 2018 Grammys. Future’s feature, along with Lamar’s signature flows, make the song feel like a timeless classic. The beat change midway through the track is refreshing and exciting.
Perhaps one of the most successful characteristics of the “Black Panther” album is the wide range of genres incorporated into the soundtrack. “X (with 2 Chainz & Saudi)” by ScHoolboy Q is a more traditional rap song with exciting flows and a pulsing trap beat. The following track on the album, “The Ways,” performed by Khalid and Swae Lee, is a sweet R&B love ballad with a bouncy beat.
“I Am,” sung by Jorja Smith, is a slower, heart-wrenching ballad in the style of Kehlani and SZA. Directly following that song is the track “Paramedic!” featuring SOB X RBE, another pulsing rap song in Lamar’s signature style. The diversity in terms of genre, artists and lyrical content makes the “Black Panther” album incredibly unique and exciting.
Another important element of the “Black Panther” album is its multiple references to African culture. The Black Panther superhero of the film is named T’Challa, and is the king and protector of a fictional African nation named Wakanda. The track “Redemption,” performed by Zacari and Babes Wodumo exemplifies this. Wodumo is one of four South African artists featured on the album. The track has a drum-heavy beat that’s traditional of South African music.
Another song in this tradition is “Seasons,” performed by Mozzy, Sjava and Reason. Sjava, a native from Johannesburg, raps the entire first verse of the track in Zulu. The relationship between the first verse in Zulu and the second verse in English, performed by Mozzy, is shown in the lyrics of the second verse: “Trapped in the system, traffickin’ drugs/ Modern-day slavery, African thugs/ We go to war for this African blood/ We go to war for this African blood.” This recurring motif of Africa throughout the album relates to the Afrocentrism of the Black Panther comic.
Between the incredible array of artists, genres and lyrics, the “Black Panther” album is wildly creative and unique. Lamar has shown himself to be a prodigious curator; his artistic fingerprint is all over the soundtrack. The release of the album has hyped-up the release of the film, coming this Friday Feb. 16, and clearly for good reason. If the soundtrack is such a piece of creative genius, there’s no telling how incredible the film itself will be.
Lucie Turkel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.