When the world saw the tracklist for the Black Panthe it seemed too good to be true. We saw our favorite artists from Travis Scott, Vince Staples, the whole TDE camp and more. Now imagine a group of white men in corporate office, just picking these names we often see on the Billboard 100 charts because of their names. After the disappointing Fate of the Furious Soundtrack, I didn’t want to get my hopes up but I never looked at Kendrick Lamar and TDE as an artist to fall short of expectations even if him and TDE were executive producing the soundtrack.
Black Panther might as well be Kendrick Lamar’s 5th album, it’s more than a movie soundtrack, it’s an album with a real theme, messages and motifs. The common themes found in Kendrick Lamar’s music blends perfectly with the motivation behind the movie. Songs on the album blend perfectly and that only happens with albums that are very detail oriented and have equal efforts from both artist and producer.
The album starts with the wonderfully weird “Black Panther”, showcasing Kendrick’s lyrical versatility. Kendrick’s delivery and the heavy beat let the listener know from the start that this is more than a mere soundtrack, this is a full-fledged Kendrick Lamar opus. “Black Panther” transitions effortlessly into the mellow single “All the Stars”. On the album, I noticed a pattern of hype track, laid back track, hype track, laid back track, etc.. This could’ve made the album tonally inconsistent, but it still works well because all of the tracks have similar themes. Loss, triumph, pride, confidence, and more tie the songs together in a cohesive manner. Every artist brought on for a song contributes greatly, I can’t think of a single person who was just there because of their name. 2 Chainz, SZA, Khalid and Swae Lee, SOB X RBE, and Jorja Smith’s contributions come to mind when I think of standouts. Black Panther blends Hip-Hop and R&B together masterfully, even throwing in some Dancehall with “Redemption”. The production of the album was great from start to finish, too. The percussion, in particular, was great, heavy and hard-hitting. It seems like they were inspired by African drumming, which ties together with the movie perfectly.
It will be interesting to see how the movie utilizes the album. There were some definite moments where I could visualize the exact type of scene the movie would use a song, but some spots where I wasn’t sure. “Opps” sounds like a fight scene to me, but where will they place “King’s Dead”? What scene in the movie goes with Future belting “La-di-da-di-da, slob on me knob”? Only time will tell, I guess. Black Panther is a great album even without the movie, I’m sure that the movie will add new layers of meaning that will make the album even better. When the dust settles, Black Panther will be discussed with soundtracks like 8-Mile, Shaft, and Superfly. Soundtracks that went above and beyond expectations and stand on their own as definitive works of the artist’s discography.
Our favorite tracks:
“Black Panther”, “The Ways”, “Paramedic!”
If you haven’t already read our review of Black Panther.