Lyrical genius and icon to many, Kendrick Lamar has done it again. On Feb. 9, he and the members of Top Dawg Entertainment dropped “Black Panther,” a soundtrack with music from and inspired by the new Marvel Studios film, “Black Panther.” As co-executive producer with writing credits on all 14 tracks, rapping isn’t the only thing Lamar can deliver. With the help of chart-topping creators including SZA, Khalid, The Weeknd, ScHoolboy Q, 2 chainz and Future, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200.
Alongside Lamar is producer Sounwave, who continues to prove his producing skills by creating the perfect transition of beats from one voice to the next.
The album begins with Lamar rapping as the superhero’s alter ego, T’Challa, king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. He highlights the importance of the film’s comic book politics in the lyrics, reciting “What do you stand for? Are you an activist?”
While focusing on the film in his songs he also relates himself back to the music by calling himself “King Kendrick.” The song “Pray For Me,” featuring The Weeknd, is an upbeat addition to his work. Lamar’s meaningful lyrics, “I fight the world, I fight you, I fight myself/ I fight God, just tell me how many burdens left,” gives purpose behind the piece.
Lamar teased fans back in January with the release of “All The Stars,” featuring SZA. Its soft bass paired with Solana’s angelic range skyrocketed its popularity, giving the upcoming release attention.
As well as many A-list music artists included in this album, Lamar joined forces with talented South African musician Sjava, who pairs up with Mozzy and Reason in the song “Seasons,” which brought traditional African-American sounds to the track.
English Songwriter Jorja Smith sings “When you know what you got, sacrifice ain’t that hard,” in the featured song, “I Am.” Smith alludes to the fact that everyone has a certain purpose in life.
“The Ways,” where Khalid and Swae Lee come together to give the album a softer, more heartfelt sound, contrasts with “Big Shot,” featuring Travis Scott. The call-and-respond, bass-heavy duet feels like an unreleased Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight demo.
SOB X BRE, a Bay Area-based rap group, was given the spotlight in Kendrick’s song “Paramedic!” Widely known for their track “Anti,” this monumental move for SOB X BRE will grow their fanbase tremendously with the help of Kendrick.
Director Ryan Coogler said Lamar was an easy choice for creating the soundtrack, not because of his well-known name but because of his art. Kendrick’s piece of work is powerful in more ways than one. Not only is the music highly enjoyable, but you can feel Kendrick’s passion. It grips your heart and tells a story about the first African-American superhero, Black Panther.