ALBUM REVIEW: Black Panther The Album: Kendrick Lamar’s Curated Playlist For The Black Superhero
The highly anticipated Black Panther The Album has finally hit shelves and music streaming services, a week before Black Panther’s official North American release, on February 16th. The ambitious project, curated by both Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment founder Anthony Tiffith, delivers fourteen tracks that were inspired by the film.
At less than an hour long, there is a lot of diversity to be found in both the artists and the songs that contribute to the effort. Opening the album is “Black Panther”, a kinetic Kendrick Lamar joint produced by Kendrick and frequent collaborator Sounwave, with eclectic, constantly changing layers. From its haunting piano to its abrupt beat switches, the landscape is perfectly laid for Kendrick to do what he does best – spitting rapid fire bars, with near laser precision. Thematically, Kendrick steps into the perspective of T’Challa, the alter ego of the Black Panther, and quickly establishes what he believes his role is, as king of the fictional African nation Wakanda:
King of my city, king of my country, king of my homeland
King of the filthy, king of the fallen, we living again
King of the shooters, looters, boosters, and ghettos poppin’
King of the past, present, future, my ancestors watchin’
King of the culture, king of the soldiers, king of the bloodshed
King of the wisdom, king of the ocean, king of the respect
King of the optimistics and dreamers that go and get it
King of the winners, district, and geniuses with conviction
Following the atomic energy of “Black Panther” is “All The Stars”, a silky collaboration between Kendrick Lamar and his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmate, SZA. Geeks of Color wrote previously about this song, when it was released. The visuals for it are quite stunning, and are one key reason that since its release, the song has been holding steady in the middle of the Billboard 100.
Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd teams up with Kendrick Lamar for “Pray For Me”, the third official single released from the album. Although short, the record manages to showcase the best of both artists; the Weeknd finds his trademark falsetto rather quickly, while Kendrick punches out his bars with his usual syllabic dexterity.
Jorga Smith’s lovely “I Am” is another standout. Another track co-produced by Kendrick Lamar and Sounwave, the song samples Travis Scott’s “Drugs You Should Try It”, and has a soulful, smoky vibe that is sure to complement the film.
Perennial hitmaker and Atlanta native Mike WiLL Made-It offers up “King’s Dead”, a star-studded joint that features Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future and James Blake. The rest of the soundtrack includes an impressive roster of talent, ranging from Khalid to Vince Staples. Check out the full track listing below:
- “Black Panther” Kendrick Lamar
- “All the Stars” Kendrick Lamar, SZA
- “X” – Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz, Saudi
- “The Ways” – Khalid, Swae Lee
- “Opps” – Vince Staples, Yugen Blakrok
- “I Am” – Jorja Smith
- “Paramedic!” – SOB X RBE
- “Bloody Waters” Ab-Soul, Anderson .Paak, James Blake
- “King’s Dead” – Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future, James Blake
- “Redemption Interlude”
- “Redemption” – Zacari, Babes Wodumo
- “Seasons” – Mozzy, Sjava, Reason
- “Big Shot” – Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott
- “Pray For Me” – The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar