Did you know that the Blank Panther movie received an 100% rating from Rotten Tomatoes after 51 reviews? It is believed that one of the many reasons people gave the movie such a high mark was because of the revolutionary approach the directors took when it came to displaying African culture. With such an approach, I feel like it was imperative that the movie had a soundtrack that complimented its roots, which is why I think this soundtrack has a chance to be pretty memorable. Backed by Kendrick and his powerful T.D.E. label, Black Panther looks to feature a great showing of unrefined urban heritage through our favorite rap stars of today, something that feels perfect for the highly anticipated Marvel film.
HONORABLE MENTION. KING’S DEAD In a song featuring two of raps heaviest-hitters, Jay Rock shines pretty bright; that’s not to say Kendrick and Future put up bad features, I just think Jay Rock’s part was that damn good! I like how he raps with this relentless flow, and feel like he let out all this pent up anger into this one big verse. Don’t sleep, Jay Rock ain’t no pushover! You know what’s ironic? I was just listening to Kendrick Lamar on J. Cole’s classic “Forbidden Fruit” track, and I thought to myself: “Damn, I like Kendrick when he’s only on the hook of a rap song”! On “King’s Dead,” that is what you get, a feature from him that hypes up the rest of the individuals through this rebellious nature. Future fits the song very well, because he’s the king of getting a track hyped up to the next level. To me, he simply completes “Kings Dead” with his energy — energy that is both clubby and bizarre at times. I spoke too soon: Kendrick Lamar killed the track at the end! Sorry for lying in the beginning.
5. BLACK PANTHER
I closed my eyes while listening to this track, and I felt like I was listening to yet another sequel from King Kendrick. It has that passion that he rapped with in his previous three albums, as the award winning rapper gets pretty aggressive over this tender instrumental. The song is only 2 minutes long, but is powerful enough to make you excited to listen to every second of this project.
4. I AM
In the midst of all these superstars, I think Jorja Smith does her thing on “I Am.”
You know what I love about Jorja’s style? she sounds like one of those starving artists that don’t mind showing a myriad of emotions on whatever song she’s on. In “I am,” Jorja drops this passionate track that promotes a slow paced/gritty style musically, shining bright on it by grabbing a strangle hold of the beat every step of the way. The words that she delivers on the song are pretty powerful, and her vocals are absolutely beautiful.
3. PRAY FOR ME
Both the Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar have taken their music to another stratosphere, so much so that I believe it takes a special kind of artist to get them excited to do business these days. On “Pray For Me,” the duo crossed paths for this galvanizing track, giving us something that I think fits the courageous feel of the Black Panther movie. With The Weeknd delivering this impassioned hook, Kendrick lets the world know about his relentlessness to succeed on the verses, killin’ em with powerful words and a steady flow. All in all, the track is as perfect as I thought it would be, especially considering its potential.
You multimillionaires need to be praying for us! twwwwwww.
2. ALL THE STARS
Did any other artist have a bigger year than Kendrick or SZA in their respective genres? They both dominated their competition by being themselves — an approach that I believe is being emulated more and more in Hip Hop today. In “All The Stars,” the best of both worlds decide to collaborate for this feel good track that promotes both determination and prosperity.
As expected, SZA adds a bunch of soul to the song on her part, singing this inspired hook that sorta reminds me of a 2018 version of “One Shining Moment.” The Grammy nominated singer sounds amazing vocally, creating the perfect platform for Kendrick to talk his s–t.
On his verse, Kendrick drops something gentle for us, discussing the importance of succeeding as the underdog. You don’t quite get Kung-Fu Kenny on his part, but you still get this competitive version of the Compton rapper that I think sounds extra hungry.
To me, this is the definition of a flawless tune.
1. BIG SHOT
I’m sure Black Panther promotes cultural unification, but part of this movie has to also promote some kick assery! If so, “Big Shot” is the perfect song for the latter. Over this amped up instrumental, Kendrick Lamar loses his marbles, practically letting loose with this highly animated contribution that reminds me of an NBA player that is imploring the crowd to get off their seats. I can already see chairs being flipped when his part comes on in the club, which is why we should probably refrain from encouraging it.
Travis Scott’s verse isn’t as explosive as Kendrick’s, but it definitely does its job in feeding hip hop fanatics some wavy s–t that we all want to hear. Even though both artists never really cross paths in their respective lanes, I feel like their chemistry is pretty unstoppable when they do decide to unite.
This songs playbackability is unbelievable! I probably heard it 500 times since writing this review.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. BLACK PANTHER (5/5)
2. ALL THE STARS (5/5)
3. X (4/5)
4. THE WAYS (4/5)
5. OOPS (4.1/5)
6. I AM (5/5)
7. PARAMEDIC! (4.5/5)
8. BLOODY WATERS (4/5)
9. KING’S DEAD (4.8/5)
10. REDEMPTION INTERLUDE (N/A)
11. REDEMPTION (5/5)
12. SEASONS (4.9/5)
13. BIG SHOT (5/5)
14. PRAY FOR ME (5/5)
This project is not a soundtrack, it is a full blown compilation album! It has a consistent sound to it, and features a bunch of talented artists that were willing to help make this project something very special.
You know what I like about this project? It has a good combination of both youthful and veteran energy. In one sense, you get this club track by an up and coming act like SOB X RBE, and in another, you get a vintage sounding track like “Bloody Waters” that features veterans such as Ab-Soul, James Blake and Anderson .paak. The project is experimental without trying, something that is refreshing to listen to.
For those who clicked on the Black Panther album to hear Kendrick Lamar, he is literally on 75% of the tracks on this project. In some songs he has a full feature, and in other songs he spotted the featured artist(s) a few lines. But in all honesty, its Kendrick’s spirits that will mostly resonate with you. I think his astute ability to make songs feel cinematic is sprinkled throughout each song on this album, making for this riveting project that begs to be played over and over again.
So do I think this album lived up to its potential? I believe so. Its addiction to sound organic is invigorating, as I can tell everyone involved was encouraged to be themselves on whatever track they were on. It’s interesting that our favorite rap artists decided to give us some of their best work on a soundtrack, but even more interesting that a movie in which urban culture is portrayed as super heroes resulted in some of the most authentic music out today!