William Rodger (The Friendly Critic)
You know what people. Before we do this, lets see what the people are saying.
“Curated by and largely featuring Kendrick Lamar, the soundtrack is a diverse, daring, and holistic pairing with the blackest movie in the Marvel Comic Universe.”
“The Black Panther saga has strong feminist overtones – T’Challa is aided and goaded by a corps of female warriors called the Dora Milaje – and some of the strongest songs on the soundtrack train the spotlight on women.”
Before we talk about the album that will go down as a sort of Frankensteins Monster hodge podge of a rap-centric soundtrack, we must discuss the man behind the madness. Kendrick Lamar.
Lamar serves as a twisted Robin Hood of super producer and curator on this album which brings together regional talents and rap and RnB mainstays to create an album full of contrast and sophistication.
SZA, Vince Staples, Jay Rock, Lamar himself. The gang’s all here.
Lamar has 5 official features on the album, but he appears either physically or in spirit on every track listed.
Just as Black Panther shifts the focus onto traditional African folk and myth (albeit through superhero tinted glasses about a man in a panther suit) each song creates a different narrative and collectively adds to a sort of politically and racially driven mythos the soundtrack creates for itself. Not to mention the aforementioned feminist undertones that are reinforced when Lamar recruits the best of the best in female-led hip hop on songs like All The Stars and I Am with Jorja Smith.
This being said this album was produced for a Walt Disney film, meaning Lamar does not undercut his offerings with his racially charged flair quite as poignantly as he does on previous albums of his own like 2015s DAMN, but the messages conveyed here are just as relevant to the fictional country of Wakanda as they are to Trump’s USA.
The track list, and moreover the talent recruited by Lamar the super producer is what makes this album stand out even from other recent Rap records.
Standouts include Kings Dead, towards the end of the album, in which Lamar freakishly impersonates the villainous Eric Killmonger like a fucked up Henry Jekyll. His flow is obviously ridiculous, but it goes beyond that its as if Lamar to me is almost chronicling Bowie and his various characters to convey the almost colonial emotions the song references. Both, naturally, are legendary.
So we have here an album of stories, Lamar and co have created here a listening experience comparable to eating tapas, but in Compton LA. Herein lies the mass appeal of the record. Its messages are relevant to those of every race colour and creed.
Regardless of the fact this artwork was created for a billion dollar movie about a fictional African king and his trials and tribulations.
Crazy. But admit it, you’re intrigued