Fans eagerly awaiting the Friday release of 2018’s most anticipated movie “Black Panther” can get a taste of what they’ll be hearing on the movie’s soundtrack, “Black Panther: The Album.”
“Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler recently revealed in an interview with NPR how famed rapper Kendrick Lamar and Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith of Top Dawg Entertainment became involved with and eventually curated the project.
Originally, Kendrick was only going to do two songs for the soundtrack but chose to sign on for the whole thing after watching the movie himself.
“Next thing I know, they were booking a studio and going at it,” Coogler said with a laugh.
The album begins with a track of the same name by Lamar, who, in a way mirrors Wakandan ruler and current Black Panther T’Challa by creating and maintaining a respectful representation of his culture.
In “Black Panther,” Lamar says “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 the respect” before ending with “I am T’Challa.”
In a literal sense, the track outlines Black Panther’s responsibilities as not only the leader of his people but also their protector. He is responsible for all of his people’s safety and takes their problems on as his own.
Kendrick, on the other hand, is not an actual king despite being one of the great musical luminaries of his time. Still, his music includes commentary on issues he and other black people are affected by every day. By bringing them out into the light, he technically takes responsibility and uses his platform to speak up for good.
Each time you listen to the 14-track album, you discover something new in the diverse musical blend of hip-hop, R&B, Afrobeat and reggae. Kendrick and Top Dawg’s smooth transition, beat and artist choices (including famed South African singer Sjava) build not only the world of Wakanda but Afro-centric music alike.